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True Blood: John Lee Hooker and the Home-School Blues

Alan Ball was known for his masterful use of music in Six Feet Under. He's lost none of his touch when it comes to his current HBO series, True Blood -- which happens to be set in the Louisiana swamps, not terribly far from Houston.

True Blood: John Lee Hooker and the Home-School Blues

We're down to the last two episodes of True Blood this season. With this being the final season under Alan Ball's producership, this may be the last great Bon Temps story.

The vampire conspiracy is unraveling even as it gains momentum, with Russell Edginton (Denis O'Hare) dropping all semblance of piety to declare his desire to start experimenting on faerie blood to synthesize it and allow them to walk in the sun. Oh, and they killed Tina Majorino because fuck everything cool, that's why.

Meanwhile, Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) continue their quest to find out which vampire killed their parents. They're aided by a piece of blood-stained vellum that's been hidden under Sookie's bed since the time of her grandmother. Upon deciphering it, it is a contract between her ancestor and a vampire named Warlow to hand over the first female faerie in the Stackhouse line. Once again, the power of her bodily fluids comes to the forefront of the plot.

But for my money the real heartbreaker of the story is our Cheeto-headed baby vamp Jessica. First, she's asked by her ex-boyfriend to erase his memories of her in a very painful scene. Then, Bill's (Stephen Moyer) goons send for her to live in the Vamperatican and basically begin undead Bible-study.

This immediately brings back painful memories for her of her strict religious upbringing, something she considers herself saved from by Bill. Now she's trapped once again in the middle of muddled orthodoxy threatening her freedom in the name of God.

True Blood: John Lee Hooker and the Home-School Blues

You know who else that happened to? The one and only John Lee Hooker. Even though the episode is presumably named after the Everly Brothers tune "Gone Gone Gone," it ends with Hooker's "You Know, I Know." Not that I'm complaining.

Hooker is responsible for, oh, let's say around 30 percent of all the blues in the world. He got started as a solid recording artist in 1948 with the hit song "Boogie Chillen," and went on to be an amazingly prolific and influential musician. He recorded more than 100 albums over the course of his long, long life, and was still touring when he died at the age of 83. He's had every award in the book thrown at him, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Yet, he came from a background that damn near threatened to ensure that none of this awesomeness ever came to pass. He was home-schooled in a very strict religious household, and not allowed to learn any music but spirituals and hymns. It was only after his parents divorced and Hooker's mom married a blues musician that he started on his true path.

 

True Blood: John Lee Hooker and the Home-School Blues

Like Jessica, Hooker was constrained to a very small world with very arbitrary rules all centered around the desires of an invisible, silent, yet all-powerful deity. Both were at first content to live their lives shrouded and secluded, until drastic circumstances and windows to the world opened their eyes. For Jessica, it was death and rebirth. For Hooker, it was that old devil the guitar.

Where would either have been if they had followed what is called a righteous path? Here in the real world I think we can fairly certain music itself would have a hole big enough to drive a truck through it. Instead of the weird, insular world his father envisioned for him, Hooker went on to blaze a new path and enshrine his name among the greats that can never be forgotten.

Jessica... well, her accomplishments aren't nearly as grand. Of course, she is younger, but there is the fact that her vampire life has allowed her to feel things that she might have felt as a human had she not been weighted down with the misused word of God.

As the episode closes, we see her troubled form in the background as she worriedly digests the vampire Bible because her maker, basically father, told her she should and she loves him.

The truth of the matter can be seen in the corner of her eyes though. In some ways, she is wiser than the collected millennia in the vampire authority. She knows, first hand, how a book can be used to bind by those desperate for justification for their lesser and baser urges.

It's too bad she couldn't have met Molly, Marjorino's character, before they made her a puddle. I'm sure they would've found common ground over what happens when religion becomes a chain. Hooker could've told them, but of course, he's gone too.


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