THE BLUES ACCORDIN’ TO LIGHTNIN’ HOPKINS (1968)

lightnin

Christopher

I have waited almost half my life to watch this film. (Sam) Lighnin’ Hopkins has been a personal favorite since I got into blues music in high school and now that I live in Texas, Hopkins being known for Texas Blues, it seems right that I stumbled upon it on Hulu Plus. Now I have to say this really isn’t a traditional documentary. You really need to know about Hopkins to probably be as interested as I was, I’m sure Elizabeth’s post will be about that though since I think she watched about five minutes of the fifty-minute video. The documentary is split into three parts. The first is “The Blues Accordin’ To Lightnin Hopkins,” the second is “The Sun’s Gonna Shine,” and the last video, which does not hold a name is Hopkins and Billy Bizor telling a story and singing a song.

First, “The Blues Accordin’ To Lightnin’ Hopkins.” This part, which is probably around thirty minutes basically shows Hopkins in his environment. It’s a string of performances while also following Hopkins around his hometown. This is exactly what I wanted from this film. I have been trying to watch this whole thing for a while. I first came across part of the opening on Youtube more than 10 years ago but I was never able to get my hands on the whole thing. Finally Criterion has brought it to the people. This whole section is dedicated just to watch Hopkins be. It’s one of the greatest things I have ever seen. Again, there is nothing better than just watching a legend live his life, while along the way playing some of his most well-known songs.

Second, “The Sun’s Gonna Shine.” This part felt like it was going to be more organized but I felt like this little section wasn’t as necessary as the first. There are parts where the camera follows a kid, presumably a young Hopkins as he explores the Texas countryside while Hopkins plays songs over the video. It was nice to be able to hear live performances for it but having a kid play a younger Hopkins felt irrelevant and a waste of time to me. You have a real guy, just use him!

Third, a story and a song. I do not remember what the song was but this video, maybe 7 minutes long, and can be found on Youtube, has Hopkins and Billy Bizor performing to children. Hopkins tells a pretty long tale, and it’s obvious here how difficult it can be to understand his speaking voice, but his story is essentially about how if a person might have a stutter, they might actually have a beautiful singing voice. He then goes on to sing a song about that subject. This scene has always confused me though, since watching it a while ago, but Billy Bizor totally looks like he is in a prison jump suite. I think it’s just a weird suit but from what we can see it almost looks like inmates in some kind of musical scared straight program.

WATCH THIS IF YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST CAUSE IT’S ONE OF THE BEST 50 MINUTES IN FILM HISTORY!!!!!!

Elizabeth

Umm . . . so I sort of pretty much slept through this one. In my defense, I don’t know anything about this musician or his music, and the documentary doesn’t give a ton of context or explanation. But . . . yeahhhhh, whoops.

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