Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Messin' With The Hook; John Lee Hooker profile excerpts from SPIN

I got given carte blanche at SPIN to write whatever I wanted, really — really! —  but one time I got asked point blank:  Who do you most want to write about?  Who would you write about if you could write about anybody?

Three-word instant response:  John Lee Hooker.

And because it was SPIN.... well, hell —just go do it.  That easy.  Oh, and write as best you can. Period.

I'm'na post the whole thing eventually, maybe, but I guess I'll just cherry-pick some stuff.   There were one or two paragraphs edited out —great paragraphs, of course, deathless prose crucified, don't you know — but because it was SPIN,  I really got to tell a whole set of tales.   And then... well, there's another small set of tales to go with it, about what happened after, but really, the real tale is the story.  Which won an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, for what that's worth.  SPIN's first, and I don't know, maybe only. (Journalists, those tough-minded cynics, offer each other more gilded bowling trophies than Hollywood would ever dare.)

Here's a couple of hunks.  (And I always kinda loved the subhead, the subtitle.  "Messin' With The Hook:  John Lee Hooker,  the living link between country blues and uptown R&B, answers the question that has baffled mankind throughout the ages: How Can I Impress The Ladies?"

(In retrospect, I wish we'd added another How or two or three in there, maybe.  How?  I don't know how.)

Some hunks:

"Elderly Bluesman interviewing Little Stevie Spielberg: 'So, tell me, man — what Is The Movies?'"

"Hooker may have been the toast of Detroit when he drifted in during the mid-'40s, but he supported his celebrity by sweeping factory floors and swabbing urinals."

"Hooker is saying:
'We got about ten [songs] there now.  Like I told you, don't take no three days for me to do no album, er um...'
Hite: We'll go for a triple album!
Hooker: 'You go for a triple album, you gonna go for triple money.' [Laughs}
Hite: 'We got lots of money.  This is a hit album — don't worry about that money, it'll come rollin' in.''  It's a carefree phrase that echoes through the ages, spoken who knows how many white times, etched into how many million black minds. 'Don't worry about that money...'
Hooker: [serious as death] 'You gotta worry about that now.  Nothin' but the best and later for the garbage.'
Hite: 'What's that?'
Hooker: 'Natural facts.'
The song that follows is 'Burnin' Hell,' and it's—"

And it's a masterpiece, one of the great frozen moments of the entire Twentieth Century.  Sometime I'll put up the rest of this, the whole thing.  Everything.  Nothin' but the best and later for the garbage.