For the upcoming movie “Black Snake Moan,” Samuel L. Jackson, in addition to acting, contributed four songs to the soundtrack. In the film, Jackson portrays an aging blues singer that takes it upon himself to rehabilitate a promiscuous young lady, played by Christina Ricci. And by “rehabilitating,” I mean he ties a tow-chain around her skinny little waist and holds her hostage while using his bluesy wisdom to cut through her self-destructive behavior. Here’s the trailer.
One of the songs on the soundtrack sung by Jackson, “Stack ‘O Lee” is a cover of a classic blues tune. A tune, by the way, that has a fascinating backstory, which reaches goes all the way back to 1895 in the Mississippi Delta. I wholeheartedly recommend that you read up on it.
The song is really good. The growling electric guitar sounds like it’s coming out of a crappy Peavey amp in a shifty bar, the drums sound chest-shakingly guttural, and Jackson’s gravelly voice is grimy and tough. When I listen to the song I can imagine standing in a bar full of stale cigarette smoke, with the humming neon beer signs providing the majority of the room’s light. I can almost taste the bitter aftertaste of the last beer still lingering on the back of my tongue. The floor’s sticky from thousands of spilled drinks, and everyone in the room is fixated on the band on the stage at the end of the room. The stage, by the way, which is only six inches off the sawdust covered dance floor. The band isn’t dressed up in fancy outfits. One or two of the band members are still wearing their work clothes from their day jobs, and instead of playing to the audience with outlandish behavior, they’re simply there to play. They don’t talk to the crowd in between songs or sets. They don’t even introduce the songs. They just play. And they play with the intensity and soul that only comes from having nothing else good in their lives except the music that they play. Have a listen (There’s some cussing in the song, so if you’re at work, don’t turn it all the way up):
I love music that tells a story and that has an actual narrative. And that’s one hell of a narrative, ain’t it? You’re damn right it is.