Samuel L. Jackson is no stranger to singing on the silver screen, despite the fact that he has never made a frequent thing of it. Whenever he does decide it's time once again to croon a tune (or several tunes), Jackson invariably sings good old fashioned southern blues. This will be no different in his upcoming film The Hitman's Bodyguard, but having Sam singing wasn't originally part of the plan. Before we get into how this turn of events came about, let's take a brief glance back at Jackson's surprising track record of singing the blues.
The Blues And Sam Go Back Like Rocking Chairs
In the 1996 action film Long Kiss Goodnight (in which he stars with a proto-Atomic Blonde Geena Davis), Jackson plays Mitch Henessey, a blues-loving private eye. Throughout the film, Mitch croons Bo Diddly's "I'm A Man," with hilariously improvised lyrics that help him feel confident in times of self doubt: "Ba-da-da-da-dun, got me a handgun, ba-da-da-da-dun, got a rifle too, ba-da-da-da-dun, anybody #%&$ with Mitch, he's knows just what to do, cuz I'm a bad mother#$%^er." (Side note: He's not.)
On the more serious side of things, in the 2006 drama Black Snake Moan, Jackson plays Lazarus Redd, a man on a mission from God. Redd is a fanatically religious farmer and a former blues guitarist who believes he's been called to intervene in the life of a promiscuous young woman (Christina Ricci) who's on the road to ruin. To ready himself for the role, Jackson actually spent half a year studying for six or seven hours a day to learn to play blues guitar for his performances with the instrument, which are layered throughout the film.
In keeping with what's shaped up to be about an every 10-year average, Jackson is singing on screen once again. This time it's for The Hitman's Bodyguard, his 2018 action comedy with co-star Ryan Reynolds. Here, Jackson takes on the role of Darius, a notorious hitman who is scheduled testify at the International Court of Justice, and it's the job of his mortal enemy (Reynolds), the world's top bodyguard, to get him there alive. That is, of course, if they don't kill each other first!
A Hitman With A Hit Song?
On the morning of Friday, August 4, the movie hitman himself fired off a tweet to announce to fans on Twitter the release of "Nobody Gets Out Alive," Jackson’s new song on the soundtrack for #TheHitmansBodyguard. A link to Spotify and iTunes accompanying the Tweet leads listeners to the track, which features the actor’s trademark tenor. It's a song that bubbles with the classic notes of a good blues ditty, complete with stretched slide guitar licks, a bottoming bass groove, and soulful sopranos on the backing vocals. All combined, it creates a sweet marriage of southern blues and southern gospel spiced up with curse words.
Surprisingly, “Nobody Gets Out Alive” wasn't originally planned for the film. It wasn't even a song at all, but just grew organically out of a scene in which Jackson's high-strung hitman is sitting in a car with Reynolds's boring bodyguard. The song's creation was mostly the result of in-the-moment improvisation, but director Patrick Hughes liked what he heard and asked Jackson to keep fleshing the song out.
To make sure that the song lived up to its potential, the director also shared what had been captured on film with Atli Örvarsson the film's soundtrack composer. Örvarsson then worked with Jackson to help mold it into the song heard on the soundtrack today, complete with wisdom-filled but R-rated lyrics written by Jackson himself.
Raised In The Land Of Blues Legends
Considering Jackson's past, his cinematic brushes with the blues over the course of his storied career make perfect sense. Although born in Washington, D.C., Jackson was actually raised by his grandparents in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the birthplace of the blues music queen Bessie Smith. Tennessee at large was also the birthplace and the home of several blues music legends like John Lee Hooker, Memphis Minnie, B.B. King, Ike Turner and too many others to name.
Ironically, whenever asked about his preferences in music, Jackson has professed an appreciation for hip-hop, but the man clearly has blues music in his soul, too. With all hope, between now and sometime around 2027, we’ll get yet another chance to hear his inner bluesman crooning once again.
Also starring Salma Hayek, Gary Oldman and Elodie Young, The Hitman’s Bodyguard opens on August 18.
Are you looking forward to seeing Sam "Nick Fury" Jackson and Ryan "Deadpool" Reynolds in this sure-to-be-hilarious, non-Marvel team-up? Let us know in the box below!