“Have mercy,” sings “Lightnin” Hopkins in “California Mudslide (and Earthquake). Mudslides in California have taken their human toll today, and it seems to be of Biblical importance, as California natural disasters often do. And after all of that flooding, the ground will be begin to shake. The song “California Mudslide (and Earthquake)” was written and performed by Lighnin’ Hopkins and recorded in 1969. It tells it all with a power that only the blues can have.
Lightnin’ Hopkins was born Sam John Hopkins in Centerville, Texas, in 1912. He was a country blues singer, songwriter, guitarist, and pianist. Rolling Stone magazine has Hopkins on their list of “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” He has been a great influence on country blues and rock guitar players. He had a distinctive fingerstyle that allowed him to be, in effect, a one-man section (i.e., bass, rhythm, lead, percussion, vocals).
Hopkins grew up with the blues, influenced by musicians such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Alger “Texas” Alexander, and Frankie Lee Sims. Hopkins recorded for Los Angeles-based record label Aladdin Records and Houston-based Gold Star Records. In the 1940s and 1950s, he mainly performed in Houston. With the folk music revival that occurred at the end of the 1950s and early 1960s, Hopkins’ music became known by a wider audience. He debuted at Carnegie Hall, New York, on October 14, 1960, with Joan Baez and Pete Seeger. Hopkins was part of the blues music in the Sixties scene.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Hopkins released one and sometimes two albums a year and played at folk festivals, folk clubs, and college campuses in the U.S., and internationally. He became Houston’s poet-in-residence for 35 years, and recorded more albums than any other bluesman. Hopkins died of cancer in 1982 at the age of 69.
Here are the lyrics for “California Mudslide (and Earthquake) by Lightnin’ Hopkins:
“Take me outta this bottom, take me outta this bottom, baby, little girl, fore this water rise
Take me outta this bottom, take me outta this bottom, little girl, fore this water rise
You know I must-a been born by the devil, po’ Lightnin don’t wanna be baptized
See, it’s rainin’ in ol’ California’s the reason I said it, the houses slidin’ down off the hill
Many, many many friends have lost their home, just because the water was falling so hard,
And the mudslide had taken their home And I said
Lettin’ ya know how it’s happenin’ now
Take me outta this bottom, take me outta this bottom, baby, po’ Lightnin can’t feel satisfied
Take me outta this bottom, take me outta this bottom, po’ Lightnin just can’t feel satisfied
Just you know many friends of mine lost they home, by that old mudslide
Don’t take me to be wrong people, forgive me for my mistake
You know, please, please, please, forgive me for my mistake
Well, after all that flood come in California, do you know, the good Lord old ground begin to shake? That’s that earthquake that was comin’
Check Out The Groove Pad for More 1960s Music
The Pass the Paisley Groove Pad is a resting stop, a place to chill out and listen to the featured song on the stereo. If the mood strikes you, click on the juke box to access and listen to the 50+ free online songs there. The TV has several channels, with selections updated twice a week. Every now and then, Pass the Paisley hosts an all-request of 1960s and 1970s songs for a Be-In at the juke box in the Groove Pad. Keep on truckin’.