The Best Songs: Lord, I just can’t keep from crying sometimes by Blind Willie Johnson
Chuck Berry, Louis Armstrong, Bach, Beethoven and Blind Willie Johnson was included on the golden record that was sent into deep space in 1977 as part of the Voyager missions. What potential alien life forms might make of Johnson humming along to his slide guitar on “Dark Was The Night (Cold Was The Ground)” is anyone’s guess. The track moves me in a way that’s hard to explain, it’s the sound of pure emotion.
Steve Martin, the actor, once told a story about the golden record: “the first message from extraterrestrials has been received… ‘Send more Blind Willie Johnson’.”
Today we will give you more Blind Willie Johnson, we will present the fantastic, “Lord, I just can’t keep from crying sometimes” (audio only):
“Blind” Willie Johnson (January 22, 1897 – September 18, 1945) was an American singer and guitarist, whose music straddled the border between blues and spirituals.
While the lyrics of all of his songs were religious, his music drew from both sacred and blues traditions. His music is distinguished by his powerful bass thumb-picking and gravelly false-bass voice, with occasional use of a tenor voice.
Johnson was not born blind, and, although it is not known how he lost his sight, Angeline Johnson told Samuel Charters that when Willie was seven his father beat his stepmother after catching her going out with another man. The stepmother then picked up a handful of lye and threw it, not at Willie’s father, but into the face of young Willie.
Johnson made 30 commercial recordings (29 songs) in five separate sessions for Columbia Records from 1927–1930.
“Lord, I just can’t keep from crying sometimes” is sung along with an as-yet-unidentified female singer. They complement each other, he sings in a gruffy voice, she shimmers above with a high pitched soft style of singing.
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