Alligator Records to Release Blind Willie Johnson Tribute
While many of the early bluesmen were six-string pickin’, singing and whooping it up at juke joints throughout the Mississippi Delta, focusing more on vice than virtue, Blind Willie Johnson was playing his unique guitar style and singing in his gruff vocal delivery on street corners in Texas, focusing largely on salvation and all things spiritual. Because the former type of musician was the favored one of the time, and because Blind Willie Johnson was more concerned with preaching the gospel than being a bluesman, he spent most of his life underappreciated and in poverty. This reluctant bluesman and passionate street corner evangelist, who truly lived a life of trials and tribulations, sadly did not become a music legend until he was long in the ground. Since then, his music has proved highly influential to bands and singer/songwriters from a number of genres. His songs have been re-released here and there, and they have become widely appreciated by music lovers all over the world. His song “Dark Was the Night – Cold Was the Ground” was included in the material sent to outer space in the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1977. And an honorary monument was erected in 2010 in the Beaumont, Texas cemetery in which Johnson was laid to rest in 1945. Most recently, Jeffrey Gaskill put together an impressive tribute to Blind Willie Johnson titled God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson, which will soon be made available by Chicago-based label Alligator Records.
Scheduled for a February 26, 2016 release on CD, and a vinyl release sometime in mid-March, God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson features song contributions by Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Derek Trucks & Susan Tadeschi, the Cowboy Junkies, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Sinéad O’Connor, Luther Dickinson, Maria Mckee, and Rickie Lee Jones. Out of the twenty-nine songs Blind Willie Johnson recorded for Columbia Records in the late ’20s, eleven were selected for God Don’t Never Change, including “Soul of a Man,” “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” “Trouble Will Soon Be Over,” “John the Revelator,” and “Dark Was the Night – Cold Was the Ground.”
Pre-orders for God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson are available now at Alligator Records’ webstore.