Various Artists: God Don't Never Change; The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson (Alligator/Southbound)

 |   |  <1 min read

Jesus is Coming Soon (Cowboy Junkies)
Various Artists: God Don't Never Change; The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson (Alligator/Southbound)

Late last year Elsewhere essayed the life and music of the great Blind Willie Johnson, the man who gave blues (and then rock and country) such cornerstone songs as It's Nobody's Fault But Mine, John the Revelator (which appeared on the Harry Smith collection) and Dark was the Night, among many others.

Johnson was a man for whom Jesus and Satan were as real as his fellow travelers on this earth and his lyrics possess an often terrifying emotional resonance.

This collection of artists is a stellar and sympathetic cast which includes Tom Waits (The Soul of a Man and John the Revelator), Lucinda Williams (It's Nobody's Fault But Mine and the title track), Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi (Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning), Cowboy Junkies (a gritty Jesus is Coming Soon) and Sinead O'Connor (Trouble Will Be Over Soon).

Elsewhere are the Blind Boys of Alabama with an aching Mother's Children Have a Hard Time (sometimes rendered as Motherless Children), Luther Dickinson with a fife and drum treatment of Bye and Bye I'm Going to See the King, Maria McKee and Rickie Lee Jones.

All get inside Johnson's songs in a respectful but raw way, much of the music parallels Johnson's narrow range and melodic repetition, and the thorough liner essay by academic Michael Corcoran fill in Johnson's life and times.

Great songs, great versions.

The force is strong in this one. 

Share It

Your Comments

Jamie - Apr 4, 2016

Couldn't agree more. First time in a while I've put an album on and sat and loved every song on it, so much so that when it finished I went and opened a beer and sat and listened to it right through a second time! Every track a pearler.

post a comment

More from this section   Blues articles index

Louisiana Red and Little Victor's Juke Joint: Memphis Mojo (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Louisiana Red and Little Victor's Juke Joint: Memphis Mojo (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Almost an octogenerian, Louisiana Red (aka Iverson Minter) has understandably become a fixture on blues circuits. Born in Alabama and his father lynched by the Klan, he once recorded for... > Read more

Jeff Healey: Heal My Soul (Warners)

Jeff Healey: Heal My Soul (Warners)

Blind blues guitarist Healey – who died in 2008 – would have been 50 this year and these previously unreleased songs confirm he was in a class of his own (Mark Knopfler, George... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Guns N Roses: Chinese Democracy (Geffen)

Guns N Roses: Chinese Democracy (Geffen)

On a recent Panel discussion on National Radio the topic of this new Guns N' Roses album came up. Why you would ask these people (columnist Rosemary McLeod and Investigate magazine editor Ian... > Read more

REEL KIWI UNDERGROUND: Local films that make a noise

REEL KIWI UNDERGROUND: Local films that make a noise

The phone call from Simon Ogston is gratefully received because he was the guy who made that fascinating doco about New Zealand's Skeptics, Sheen of Gold. And when he says he is putting on a... > Read more