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Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Books and Articles => Topic started by: Bunker Hill on September 03, 2009, 09:34:58 AM

Title: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on September 03, 2009, 09:34:58 AM
I've received this from Chicago Review Press.

I don't know what became of the book by Tim O'Brien (see topic Blues Biographies In Progress) but one can only hope it's not going to be a case of two biographies published within years of each other as happened with Muddy Waters.

Govenar is a well respected authority on Texas music and has numerous publications to his name.
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Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues by Alan Govenar
Chicago Review Press
Publication May 2010

By the time of his death in 1982, Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins was likely the most recorded blues artist in history. This brilliant new biography--the first book ever written about him--illuminates a man of many contradictions. He poured out his feelings in his songs, but it was hard to tell if he was truly sincere. He appeared to trust no one, yet he knew how to endear himself to his audience, whether he was playing for black audiences in Houston?s Third Ward or for white crowds at the Matrix in San Francisco or in the concert halls of Europe.

Born in 1912 on a small farm to a poor, sharecropping family in the cotton country between Dallas and Houston, Hopkins left home when he was only nine years old with a guitar his brother had given to him. Picking cotton was not what he wanted to do, so he made his living however he could, sticking to the open road, playing the blues and taking odd jobs when money was short. This biography delves into Hopkins? early years, debunking the myths surrounding his meetings with Blind Lemon Jefferson and Texas Alexander, his time on a chain gang, his women, and his life-long appetite for gambling and drinking.

Hopkins didn?t begin recording until 1946, when he was dubbed "Lightnin?'"during his first session, and he soon joined Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker on the national charts. But by the time he was "rediscovered" by Mack McCormick and Sam Charters in 1959, his popularity had begun to wane. A second career emerged--now Lightnin? was pitched to white audiences, not black ones, and he became immensely successful, singing about his country roots and the injustices that informed the civil rights era with a searing emotive power.
  
More than a decade in the making, this biography is based on scores of interviews with Lightnin's relatives, friends, lovers, producers, accompanists, managers, and fans.
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: jostber on September 09, 2009, 08:26:32 AM
This looks like a winner! A bit long to wait though. :) Here's the Lightnin' part from Govenar's previous book "Texas Blues":

http://books.google.com/books?id=68Re4trXKqoC&pg=PA42&lpg=PA42&dq=govenar+lightnin+hopkins&source=bl&ots=jsyeZjUQ16&sig=-u43oiCK4CNfzGCMzsmUzvnJCd0&hl=no&ei=FcmnSsCUHonp-Qab-am7CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=govenar%20lightnin%20hopkins&f=false

Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on September 09, 2009, 11:09:57 AM
This looks like a winner! A bit long to wait though. :)
He's been working at it for a decade or more, I guess the publisher has to fit it in with their schedule. In the meantime here's an interesting interview with AG who seems have other books he's currently researching. http://musictomes.blogspot.com/2008/12/interview-with-alan-govenar.html
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on December 21, 2009, 10:37:33 AM
I've just been supplied with the Table of Contents

  Acknowledgments
  Introduction
1 Early Years
2 Travels with Texas Alexander
3 The Move to Houston
4 Rediscovery
5 The Blues Revival Heats Up
6 The Touring Intensifies
7 Mojo Hand: An Orphic Tale
8 An Expanding Audience
9 The Last Decade
  Discography
  Selected Bibliography

Unfortunately there's no pagination to give an idea of the size of the work but I'm reliably informed it should be in the region of 350 pages.
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: doctorpep on December 22, 2009, 06:53:01 AM
Excellent! I can't wait!
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: jostber on December 29, 2009, 10:14:32 AM
A whole chapter dedicated to Texas Alexander is pretty cool.

Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on December 30, 2009, 10:37:12 AM
Amazon are quick off the mark http://www.amazon.com/Lightnin-Hopkins-His-Life-Blues/dp/1556529627
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Richard on December 30, 2009, 11:40:49 AM
I've just pre-ordered on Amazon uk...
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on December 30, 2009, 11:49:06 AM
I've just pre-ordered on Amazon uk...
Snap. ?17 for 368 page hardback seems like a bargain to me. It's been a longtime coming and I never thought I'd see an LH biography before I got put in an old folks home. Phew just made it in time!  ;D
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on January 10, 2010, 12:22:52 AM
I note US Amazon have recently reduced this to a pre-order price of $19.53 whilst UK Amazon now up to ?21.71.
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on March 13, 2010, 12:23:58 PM
The Blues & Rhythm web site announces "coming up in B&R 248, Lightnin' Hopkins First Recordings by Alan Govenar" which I'm guessing is a 'come-and-buy-me' gleaned from the biography due for publication in May.
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on March 24, 2010, 07:02:19 AM
You can now view the index, read some of the first chapter and complete bibliography here: http://tinyurl.com/ylrmh8r

running the mouse pointer over the cover displays a limited search feature.
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on April 10, 2010, 02:02:11 AM
The Blues & Rhythm web site announces "coming up in B&R 248, Lightnin' Hopkins First Recordings by Alan Govenar" which I'm guessing is a 'come-and-buy-me' gleaned from the biography due for publication in May.
It's out and I do B&R an injustice, it's a specially written feature by Govenar.
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: blueshome on April 10, 2010, 02:03:47 AM
There's also an article on collecting in the 70's by our own Oddenda.
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Stuart on April 10, 2010, 08:45:59 AM
http://www.bluesandrhythm.co.uk/documents/hopkins.pdf
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: jostber on April 17, 2010, 03:38:10 AM
http://www.bluesandrhythm.co.uk/documents/hopkins.pdf

Great stuff, thanks!

Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on April 17, 2010, 04:35:15 AM
Officially due for piublication 1st May, Amazon US are already sending out pre-ordered copies.

Amazon UK will be dispatching pre-orders on 9th May.
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: jharris on May 17, 2010, 04:43:14 PM
Just a quick head's up that I interviewed Alan Govenar for yesterday's show which was devoted to Hopkins. You can listen to an edited version of the interview at my website (at the bottom): http://sundayblues.org (http://sundayblues.org). Those who want to listen to the entire program can find it here: http://baddogbl.startlogic.com/feeds/brb_5.16.mp3 (http://baddogbl.startlogic.com/feeds/brb_5.16.mp3). Just a note that the last 25 minutes weren't recorded so I just tacked on the tracks I played and the remaining interview.

Curious if anyone else has read the book? I would certainly recommend it. The book is very well written, thoroughly researched and paints a vivid portrait of a man who, despite his fame, was something of an enigma. In the end, at least to me, Hopkins still remains something of a mythic figure which I imagine is how he would have wanted it. I guess that's the reason I titled my show after one of his great 50's numbers, "They Wonder Who I Am." I guess the only somewhat negative thing I would say is that I would have liked a bit more in-depth look at the music itself. I guess it's not a bad thing, but this is one of the few blues books that left me wanting more.

Another big plus is the inclusion of a complete discography which obviously entailed a tremendous piece of research in itself.

-Jeff H.
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on May 18, 2010, 05:17:28 AM
In the end, at least to me, Hopkins still remains something of a mythic figure which I imagine is how he would have wanted it.
Mythical? Perhaps. Enigmatic, certainly. It?s a shame that LH?s long time partner, Antoinette Charles, proved to be so unwilling to fully co-operate. Given that she was married to someone else during the thirty year relationship I suppose it?s understandable.  It's certainly an easy and informative read even if at times I too found myself wanting more discussion of his songs. However, I'm please that AG didn't fall into the trap of writing a biography just by following the sequence of events in his discography.
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Another big plus is the inclusion of a complete discography which obviously entailed a tremendous piece of research in itself.
Andrew Brown has done a wondrous job on the discography. To be honest I?m astonished that the publishers gave its inclusion the thumbs up, especially in light of its extraordinary length. I guess that if Andrew had included within the chronological sessions all the artists who LH accompanied that would have been a "discography too far" for the publisher and out all of it would have gone. :)
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on June 04, 2010, 10:41:20 AM
The CD of the book?  ;D

http://www.acerecords.co.uk/content.php?page_id=59&release=8503
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: oddenda on June 05, 2010, 07:42:55 PM
I found the book a bit underwhelming. The first three chapters deal with the meat of the matter: those after with his post "rediscovery" years, about which there is a LOT more information. The chapter about the affair with author J.J. Phillips would have better been an appendix - it interrupts the biographical flow. A decent book, then, but not a great one; probably as good as it's going to get from this vantage point. To quote Kevin Kline's character in "A FISH CALLED WANDA"... "Disappointed!". Oh, the McCormack/Oliver fiasco looms large over our potential knowledge. C'est la bloody guerre.

Peter B.
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on June 06, 2010, 01:01:32 AM
I found the book a bit underwhelming. The first three chapters deal with the meat of the matter: those after with his post "rediscovery" years, about which there is a LOT more information. The chapter about the affair with author J.J. Phillips would have better been an appendix - it interrupts the biographical flow. A decent book, then, but not a great one; probably as good as it's going to get from this vantage point.
You never know maybe Tim O'Brien has been awaiting the publication of this to turn his 2006 University of Houston MA thesis - Sam Lightnin; Hopkins Houston Bluesman 1912-1960 - into an "alternative" biography. It won't be the first time that two biographies of the same artist have appeared within years of each other.
Title: Re: Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on November 25, 2011, 10:17:29 AM
This has just arrived in my email

"Lightnin? Hopkins: His Life and Blues," has won the 2011 ARSC Award for Best History in Music.

David N. Lewis, ARSC Awards Committee Co-Chair
1110 E. Main Street Apt. 802
Lebanon, OH 45036

Winners are chosen by the ARSC Awards Committee: five elected judges representing
specific fields of study, the ARSC President, and the Book Review Editor of the ARSC
Journal. The members of the 2011 ARSC Awards Committee are:

Roberta Freund Schwartz (Committee Co-Chair)
David Lewis (Committee Co-Chair)
Vincent Pelote (ARSC President)
James Farrington (Book Review Editor, ARSC Journal)
Dennis Rooney (Classical Music Judge)
Cary Ginnell (Judge-At-Large)
Dan Morgenstern (Jazz Music Judge)
William L. Schurk (Popular Music Judge)
Richard Spottswood (Judge-at-Large)

Additional information about ARSC, including lists of past ARSC Award Winners and
Finalists, may be found at www.arsc-audio.org (http://www.arsc-audio.org) <http://www.arsc-audio.org/>
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