Beginning with a stirring African folk song (Zélié performed by Angélique Kidjo) the roots are established and rapidly swell into a trunk thickened by the hardships of the Great Depression (Gamblin' Man performed by David 'Honeyboy' Edwards) and the oppression of segregation (Jim Crow Blues performed by Odetta). Finally, this Blues family tree shows off vibrant new growth as it reveals the Blues' influence on our modern wealth of talented musicians (Midnight Special performed by John Fogerty and Hound Dog done by Macy Gray). Ruth Brown gives Blll Cosby a full-throttle serenade (and a playful smoldering gaze), along with Mavis Staples and Natalie Cole. Angélique Kidjo persuades Buddy Guy to an unforgettable rendition of 'Voodoo Child,' shortly before Bonnie Raitt and Robert Cray accompany B.B. King and Lucille for the final number, 'Paying the Cost to be the Boss.' This documentary presents to the audience, with authority and candor, an authentic history of this musical form. The ... Written by
[referring to a crowd that booed him once after his name was announced]
At first, they didn't care nothin' about the blues. They didn't know nothin' about me. The reason they booed 'cause it was blues. When they said "blues", hey, it's like being black twice.
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Lightning in a Bottle was not exactly what I expected. I went into the film expecting more of a documentary, and came out with more of a concert film. Yes, there were bits of history in the film, which were well presented. I am not terribly knowledgeable on the blues; just having enjoyed the music rather than learning it's history. Regardless of what I expected versus what I got, I enjoyed the film.
My favorite scene was simply a great camera angle. Watching Buddy Guy play, from below the guitar, while the light streamed between his deftly moving fingers gave me a feeling that is difficult to describe. Something about the light, and the music, and the hands that brought me there.
Several of the musical numbers were outstanding, notably Buddy Guy, BB King, Natalie Cole and Bonnie Raitt. I also enjoyed some of the "oldsters" like Hooker and Clarence Gatemouth Brown.
When Angélique Kidjo convinced Buddy Guy to come back on stage and accompany her on "Voodoo Chile" I was amazed! She was so full of energy, and she had that old pro wrapped around her tiny finger as she strutted on stage. To me, the performance was electric, and the smile on Guy's face makes me think he agreed.
I also enjoyed watching India.Arie perform Strange Fruit. Her voice is soothing, and there was an underlying passion that I think embodies the blues.
As for Lightning in a Bottle...I think it was described in the film, but not named specifically. It was said that you can write down all the lyrics, and the notes, there is still unmistakably something not present on the page. It takes a blues artist to find the missing essence and infuse it into the performance. If we could bottle it, we'd be millionaires, huh?
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