Thursday, June 1, 2017

Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground

In 1927 Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris and Babe Ruth swatted sixty home runs.  On December 3, 1927 Blind Willie Jefferson (1897-1945) recorded Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground at a studio in Dallas, Texas for Columbia Records.

The title comes from a 1792 hymn by an English clergyman.  Jefferson's version does not use lyrics and he plays a slide guitar in a style that inspired generations of future musicians.  Dark Was The  Night is one of 27 musical samples chosen for the Golden Record placed on the Voyager space vehicle launched in 1977 and now somewhere in interstellar space.  If Voyager encounters aliens this is what they'll hear.  Wonder what they will think.

Blind Willie recorded 30 songs in five recording sessions between 1927 and 1930 and enjoyed some commercial success.  However, with the advent of the Depression the market for this music collapsed. Jefferson was one of many Negro musicians promoted by the Reverend Gary Davis in the late 50s and early 60s as part of the American folk revival.

Here's another Blind Willie tune, Nobody's Fault But Mine.

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