Thursday, February 04, 2010

Second Thoughts, Re: Memorializing Lightnin' Hopkins

After our previous posting it occurred to us that the large and probably insurmountable obstacle to Sam Hopkins' attainment of big-time post-mortem memorializing here in Houston is that he just died too early. If Hopkins, who exited from this vale in 1982 at 70 or thereabouts, had somehow defied the actuarial odds for a hard-living black man of rural background and continued chooglin' up into at least the early 1990s, we suspect he'd be rating more than a small historical marker in Third Ward.

Just a few more years of drawing breath and he'd certainly have a cut an album of duets, or two, with Willie Nelson. He might have won a Grammy or three for Best Traditional Blues Album, an award that was inaugurated the year after his death. Maybe there would have been a brief sit-down set at the Rodeo. Posthumously, there'd be a couple of tribute albums, including the one with that ballsy, bombastic version of Let Me Play With Your Poodle by Rufus Wainright. (It might work.) If somehow he'd lived past the turn of the century, a marvel of medical science, we all would have gotten a chuckle from the light-hearted number he recorded with Beyonce, during which he ad-libbed that lecherous PG-13 observation on the 'liciousness of her booty.

As it is, Hopkins got frozen in time too soon. With his shades, his extra-long mentholated cigarettes, that leering laugh, those decidedly non-P.C. lyrics and the fierce native intelligence, he's as foreign to the Houston of today as the ghost voices captured on those old Marvin Zindler radio broadcasts. He didn't stick around to let time sand those rough edges down to smooth, marketable contours.

1 comment:


Lightnin' and Steve Earle mighta worked too. Hey, Steve mighta enlisted Lightnin' into the international bro'hood of Marxism, come to think of it.