“You lookin’ for me?”
“Are you Lightnin’?”
“Lightnin’,” I said, “I sure am.”
Lightnin’ Hopkins was born Sam Hopkins in 1912, in Centerville, Texas. Often considered to be one of the greatest country blues singers of all time, he reached legendary status in his own lifetime—a status probably augmented by the fact that almost nothing was known about him. He was also nearly impossible to find, even as he continued putting out records after his first in 1947.
Charters, following the trail of Hopkins’ pawned electric guitar and asking nearly everyone in Houston of his whereabouts, was eventually found by Hopkins. They went back to Lightnin’s furnished room on Hadley Street the same day to record what would become a classic in just one session.
Written the day he recorded Hopkins in a “shadowy room with a bottle of gin on the floor,” the freshness of this letter allows the reader to share Charters’ excitement. The only option then is to pop in Lightnin’ Hopkins and imagine what it must have been like to sit in the room on Hadley Street and share that bottle with a legend.
Listen to samples of this classic recording: http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=2097