Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Inspiration: John the Revelator

There was period last year that I didn't want to listen to any music. Weird, right?  A collision of personal events left me empty and numb, and my soul just didn't want to be succored. But then one day, it broke, and then all I wanted to do was listen to music, but not any or all kinds of music. All I wanted to listen to was the blues, Delta Blues to be exact. Old, gritty, and deep, the kind of music that seems to break me down to a mass of molecules. There is a misconception that the blues is all about wallowing in sadness. To me it is worlds and universes more. It is all about connecting with some of the raw things that make us human, things like grief and pain and lost of any and all kinds, those type of things that don't discriminate among people. Life is all about separation and connection, breaking apart and building up, and that is what the blues is all about. And sometimes, you just want to be sad, but don't know how to express it, so you let the music do it for you.

And now that that time has past and my little tattered heart has once again embraced a lotta music stuffs, on Sundays, those quiet days that I  can sink a little deeper into life, I still turn to the blues, clapping my hands and declaring to everyone and no one at once, Sunday is for the Blues.

John the Revelator has become one my favorites Sunday morning serenades, it's like going to the hippest  church around.   And I am not alone in my love of this song, it has been covered so many times, each new voice adding another layer of human experience.

Blues legends Blind Willie Johnson and Son House both have wicked versions of it. Wicked, as in Whoa Nelly, this is good.

Son House's version is Son House at his best, just his rich voice and hand claps keeping the beat.

Blind Willie Johnson's version is in the traditional call and respond format and his voice has a sense of of doom in it, that adds a level of intensity that, it you will let it, will shake you down.

On the more modern front, I love, love this version by The Dustbowl Revival. If I were to ever to be in a swanky jazz band, I would want it to sound like this:

And Jack White/The White Stripes do a total-blast out the speakers- rock and roll version of it, that just is kind of amazing in it own right.


  1. Oooh, love the DBR version! I've got one of them singing it but it's not nearly this fun! Gotta see if I can track this one down somehow.

    1. This live version is a little bit differently from their album version, but I mean, a horn section is a horn section.