The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Ancient Voices #23


Blind Willie Johnson

6 comments :

Brent McKee said...

From The West Wing:
"Voyager, in case it's ever encountered by extraterrestrials, is carrying photos of life on earth, greetings in fifty-five languages, and a collection of music from Gregorian chant to Chuck Berry, including "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" by 1920s bluesman Blind Willie Johnson, whose stepmother blinded him at seven by throwing lye in his eyes after his father beat her for being with another man. He died penniless of pneumonia after sleeping bundled in wet newspapers in the ruins of his house that burned down, but his music just left the solar system."

joel. said...

The greatest of all "blues" men (or should he be considered a gospel singer?). Either way that voice chills me like no other!

Vanwall said...

Don't know what way the man himself would say he sang the blues, didn't matter, tho - was there ever a more true voice and aching sound?

homesteader said...

His enunciation can be hard to follow sometimes, yet he communicates volumes. My favorite Blues Primitive.
Tommie Hicks

erik hogstrom said...

Blind Willie Johnson is amazing. I listened to him one day getting lost while driving through an overgrown forest on a steamy hot day. Best day of getting lost I have ever had.

operator_99 said...

Singing alone or with his wife, his sound and soul are timeless - Dark Was the Night, and Cold was the Ground and John the Revelator are two of my favorites. If you are not familiar with Reverend Gary Davis, you might check him out as well, great guitar player, songwriter and singer.