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Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues [NOOK Book]

Overview

Based on scores of interviews with the artist’s relatives, friends, lovers, producers, accompanists, managers, and fans, this brilliant biography reveals a man of many layers and contradictions. Following the journey of a musician who left his family's poor cotton farm at age eight carrying only a guitar, the book chronicles his life on the open road playing blues music and doing odd jobs. It debunks the myths surrounding his meetings with Blind Lemon Jefferson and Texas Alexander, his time on a chain gang, his ...

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Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues

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Overview

Based on scores of interviews with the artist’s relatives, friends, lovers, producers, accompanists, managers, and fans, this brilliant biography reveals a man of many layers and contradictions. Following the journey of a musician who left his family's poor cotton farm at age eight carrying only a guitar, the book chronicles his life on the open road playing blues music and doing odd jobs. It debunks the myths surrounding his meetings with Blind Lemon Jefferson and Texas Alexander, his time on a chain gang, his relationships with women, and his lifelong appetite for gambling and drinking. This volume also discusses his hard-to-read personality; whether playing for black audiences in Houston’s Third Ward, for white crowds at the Matrix in San Francisco, or in the concert halls of Europe, Sam Hopkins was a musician who poured out his feelings in his songs and knew how to endear himself to his audience—yet it was hard to tell if he was truly sincere, and he appeared to trust no one. Finally, this book moves beyond exploring his personal life and details his entire musical career, from his first recording session in 1946—when he was dubbed Lightnin’—to his appearance on the national charts and his rediscovery by Mack McCormick and Sam Charters in 1959, when his popularity had begun to wane and a second career emerged, playing to white audiences rather than black ones. Overall, this narrative tells the story of an important blues musician who became immensely successful by singing with a searing emotive power about his country roots and the injustices that informed the civil rights era.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this first full-length biography of the prolific and influential blues icon Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins, Texas blues expert Govenar, author of the encyclopedic Texas Blues: Rise of a Contemporary Sound, presents important new research and employs neglected primary sources to offer an accessible critical analysis of Hopkins's artistic achievement buttressed by generous quotations from his lyrics. Hopkins, a guarded individual who lived most of his life in Houston's Third Ward, left a murky trail that Govenar follows with an admirable skepticism. The incarcerations of Hopkins's youth remain a mystery, with his scarred ankles the only concrete evidence of his chain-gang experience. His better-documented later years are highlighted by his rediscovery (a misnomer, as he recorded from the late 1940s onward without break) by blues enthusiasts whose treatment of him ranged from idolatrous to shameful. VERDICT This first biography of an important figure in blues history is an essential purchase for anyone interested in American popular music or African American culture.—John Frank, Los Angeles P.L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569766200
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Alan Govenar is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker. He is the author of numerous books, including Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound; Extraordinary Ordinary People: Five American Masters of Traditional Arts; Stompin’ at the Savoy: The Story of Norma Miller; Untold Glory: African Americans in Pursuit of Freedom, Opportunity and Achievement; and Osceola: Memories of a Sharecropper’s Daughter. The off-Broadway premiere of his musical Blind Lemon Blues, cocreated with Akin Babatunde, received rave reviews in the New York Times and Variety.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I have my doubts about this book but at the same time, I am looking forward to it at the same time.

    I am looking at this book in 2 different ways. I personally am at a Crossroads(no pun intended towards the iconic Robert Johnson) on whether to get this book or not.
    On one hand, there are barely any book out on the late and great Texas Bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins and I guess now a days, get what you can because not many people write books about such legendary figures such as Lightnin' anymore.
    On the other hand, from what I read on this description, it doesn't seem to speak very highly about my Blues Guitar Hero and in all honesty, if this is the case, keep in mind that Po Lightnin' isn't here to defend himself. Now I know that as a human being, we are not perfect and we all have our faults and excellencies but the truth is, it doesn't sound like Govenar speaks well of Lightnin'. You can have all the countless commentaries of friends, family, lovers, and what have you but to understand the man and his music is something completely different.
    Big difference.
    If people can understand where he is coming from and how he grew up, you'd have the Blues too. I'm not saying I know Lightnin' Hopkins and that's the reason why I don't want to see a man I admire be spoken badly of towards an ignorant public. The fear I have is for some idiot dope who doesn't understand the Blues or the culture to pick up this book and think negatively of Lightnin'. We'll see but as for now, I have a huge debate on getting this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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