Lightnin’ Hopkins Gets Your Head Tore Up

Longreads

In the summer of 1960, Dallas, Texas journalist Grover Lewis went to Houston’s Third Ward in search of Bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins. Lewis found him in an old ’54 Dodge. The resulting essay, published in the Village Voice in 1968, is a small masterpiece of personal music writing, offering a snapshot of artistic endurance, 1960s race relations, and the daily life of one of the pivotal figures in the ’60s Blues revival. It’s also a shining example of how to blend first-person interiority with reporting in a way that shows the effect music can have on our lives. Lewis isn’t as well known as his New Journalism counterparts Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe, but he’s just as good. You can read the essay in the book Splendor in the Short Grass: The Grover Lewis Reader:

            Accepting the bedrock necessity of unceasing struggle for existence as a simple, inflexible condition…

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