Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground

This is the legendary 'Blind' Willie Johnson, recorded in the late 1930's, doing the truely disturbing, aethereal 'Dark was the Night...' (a tune based on an old African-American spiritual originally referred to as 'Gethsemene').  Probably the most seminal piece of music recorded over the past 100 years (aside from Westlife's stuff, of course)...

I try to play along on slide to this on my Dobro sometimes but can never finish it for some reason - it's weird as I can get the notes & tuning down fairly easily, and it's not as if there are many words to remember, but it is almost like an impenetrable wall of sadness hits half-way through.

Willie was an itinterent musician who endurded a pretty horrific life of abuse and poverty, and died pretty young but his music had a huge influence in later years - Led Zeppelin, Ry Cooder, Duane Allman, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rev. Gary Davis, Fairport Convention, Clapton, Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher and so many other great people were deeply influenced by him.

A recording of this tune was allegedly included in a capsule sent into space on the 1977 Voyager flight. Am still waiting for it to land in my back garden or at least somewhere local (hopefully on the head of Louis Walsh).

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