Friday, November 29, 2013

The Great Lightnin' Hopkins

 Yesterday, on Thanksgiving, my wife was telling me the story of John Fante. I've read one of his book, but she's read them all. Fante has inspired a number of more relevant authors (more relevant to today's society anyway) like Charles Bukowski. She was telling me how his works are no longer in print, falling into the cracks of oblivion, because publishing houses don't want to spend the money to keep him around.

It made me kind of sad. And it made me think about things. I started wondering if that is the way that it just has to be in today's world. In the past, you know like 500 years ago, there weren't as many artists, so there wasn't as much art thrown away. Even if there was, would we want to read it or see it? There's only a certain amount that we can absorb, and most people want to absorb a substantial amount of contemporary art.

John Fante is going out of print, hmmm. The book I read by him was good, and it's a shame that his voice isn't going to be heard too much longer. But, it's also sad that nobody is going to hear my voice one day, and it's sad that nobody is going to hear your voice one day. I've had great conversations with people over the years, and it's sad that those are also going to die. But, that is just the way it goes I guess. However, there are a few exceptions. Certain artists that society has deemed to be great will last through time. Shakespeare is not going anywhere, Beethoven either. That's the way it is. To never die, you have to be that good.

Today, we are doing our best to keep certain artists alive through the internet. There's something so eerie and magical about roaming Youtube, slowly unraveling a man's career. This past month, I've been obsessed with old blues musicians...Big Mama Thornton, Elmore James, John Lee Hooker, etc. But, none have been as great as Lightnin' Hopkins.

I've been stuck on him for days, watching his progression over the years. I love his weaving acoustic guitar solos and his drawling voice. He is so unbelievably cool in his fedora hat with his gold teeth. His stories tell about life, the way it really is, but he keeps his sense of humor with him. Right now, in my mind, I believe him to be one of the greatest artists, let alone blues artists, I've heard. He died thirty years ago, and like Fante, he's influenced countless artists along the way. But, right now, I'm also wondering how much time Lightnin' Hopkins has until his artistry dies.

So, I want to do my part to keep his memory alive. Here is the late, great Lightnin' Hopkins. Check him out and keep this dude alive.

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