Sunday, October 10, 2010

LIGHTNIN' (Afterword) ~

Chris Strachwitz, Arhoolie Records


You probably have this track, but I've always loved it. I grew up listening to the Arhoolie recordings of Lightnin'. My father actually picked him up hitchhiking on Highway 82 in Mississippi in the 60s. My father was heading home to Greenwood from college and saw a guy with a guitar walking along the road. He had no idea who the guy was, despite the guy assuring him he'd made records. They stopped at a little burger joint on the side of the road, but Lightnin' couldn't go in because of segregation laws, so my father bought him a burger and Lightnin' agreed to come to Greenwood and play a house party my father was throwing (his parents were out of town). A few months later a package arrived postmarked from Houston and it contained several of Lightnin's records with a note saying 'I told you I was famous.' Oh how I wish my father still had that.


unknown, Long Gone Miles, Lightnin' Hopkins, Chris Strachwitz

Photo By Mack McCormick

Dear Whit,

Great great story about Lightnin' and your father. Someone had to pick up the hitchhiking musician! Glad it was your father.

Someone else has a similar story about picking up Townes Van Zandt in Texas. Again, just trampin', picked up, said he was known had records etc., and later he either sent the driver some records or else pulled them out of his pack after or during the drive.

Speaking of drive, I collect Arhoolie Records. One time we were in Taos after spending some days in Wisconsin with Cid and Niedecker events/readings. We had a train ticket west to Milwaukee and made it further (at about the same price) since someone, quite kind, paid our way out and so we made the itinerary to Denver. After Wisconsin and friends (including Ted) we went westward and ended up spending some days traveling around New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas...where I plugged into some Arhoolie finds for my collection back home. There was a fellow opening a used LP store, and it looked momentary, in Taos, and he had just picked up at the town dump a scarf of Arhoolie. He said he wasn't sure what he really had but he priced them at $3-5 because he needed the money for the first month's rent. I bought them all. Some more Lightnin' included. The next day I mailed my clothes home and wouldn't part with my LP treasures, or trust the mail. I lugged them through Denver, Chicago, Albany, Springfield, Brattleboro. Companions.

24 degrees this morning. Hard frost.

all's well, Bob

Here's more on Whit, his terrific new book of poems, and the UK wonder
Skysill Press