The Blues Are Dead: Long Live The Blues

According to me, The Blues was a musical genre that encompassed many styles of roots music beginning in the late 1800s, ending in the 1950s. Anyone who started playing ‘the blues’ after the 1950s, especially twelve-bar blues and extra-especially if they’re from England, isn’t playing The Blues, they are playing. . .Oh heck, I don’t know. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has just reissued Samuel “Lightnin” Hopkins self-titled solo guitar/vocal record recorded in his tiny apartment (2803 Hadley Street, Houston, Texas, USA) remastered from the original 1959 master tapes! This is country blues, real roots music, captured to tape by Sam Charters who, as the story goes, loosened Lightnin’ up with some gin and hit record.

There’s so much subtle nuanced beauty in this deceptively simple music my heart cries when it plays.

Here’s another theory—the more notes played on a guitar per minute, the less subtle nuanced beauty lies therein. I have lots of these silly little theories and none of them really mean anything but they’re fun to roll around in my head over and over like rocks in a tumbler getting smoother with time.

This, on the other hand, is no theory—you want Lightnin’ Hopkins, Lightnin’ Hopkins on vinyl.