Friday, July 18, 2014

Dark Was the Night - Cold Was the Ground

Blind Willie Johnson was born in born in Brenham, Texas in 1897. He wasn't born blind, some say his stepmother threw lye in his face after he told his father of her affair.

With simple slide guitar melodies matched to his solemn tenor or striking false bass voice, Johnson grips every bone and trembles them. The profoundly smooth blues riffs shudder the spine while Willie's voice conveys a longing beyond this world. Apt then that the Voyager spacecraft's Golden Record has Blind Willie's classic lyric-less Dark Was the Night - Cold Was the Ground on the first side.

This site contains information about Johnson's life as a musician including his upbringing, influences, and recording career.

Here is a website that provides information on Voyager 1, including the song list of 'Music from Earth' on the Golden Record.

This is an excellent example of Willie's  powerful voice, classic blues melodies, lasting lyrics, and beautiful harmonies.

Willie's music resonates with me because it is so naturally infused with and driven by his raw emotions. His eagerness for a better world, sadness at its state, and ecstasy at its beauty construct his music's core. Blind Willie conveys  the obvious but taken for granted truths in the universe, and he does it poetically and harmoniously with seemingly no effort.