One of the most revered and renowned recordings in music history.
You’re listening to Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground by Blind Willie Johnson. Music historians cite the song as a retelling of Christ’s crucifixion. Hard to be completely sure, though, with Johnson’s characteristic humming, and moaning in place of lyrics.
There’s a parallel to be drawn between the song and Johnson’s life. He was blinded as a boy, during a domestic dispute, and though a huge influence in both Gospel and the Blues, he’d remain penniless much of his life. So much so that when his house burned to the ground in 1945, he stayed put. Sleeping on a wet bed in dry heat will get you malaria, and that’s what killed Blind Willie Johnson at the age of 48.
Try to stump our crack musicologists…request an episode right now at sound beat dot org.