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I'm so poor I have to lean up against a fence to gargle - Big Bill Broonzy, Looking Up at Down

Author Topic: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics  (Read 25066 times)

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Offline harriet

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Re: God Moves Across The Water. I need some help with this one
« Reply #60 on: August 30, 2013, 09:13:01 AM »
Cool, thanks DJ - Lyndvs transcription checks out here as well, though I didn't hear it that way before.:)

Offline Lyndvs

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Re: God Moves Across The Water. I need some help with this one
« Reply #61 on: August 30, 2013, 10:47:50 AM »
Thank you DJ,Thank you Harriet.Glad to be of help.

Offline harriet

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God Moves On the Water
« Reply #62 on: January 19, 2016, 07:18:41 AM »
This was posted on Bluestalk as the last verse which finally makes sense to me - I agree with it so am posting the lyrics in the spirit of any thoughts appreciated and apologies if its been posted here before:

God Moves on the Water
Blind Willie Johnson

Year of nineteen hundred and twelve, April the fourteenth day
Great Titanic struck an iceberg, people had to run and pray
God moves, moves, God moves, ah, and the people had to run and pray

The guards who had been a-watching, asleep 'cause they were tired
When they heard the great excitement, many gunshots were fired
God moves, moves, God moves, ah, and the people had to run and pray

Captain Smith gave orders, women and children first
Many of the lifeboats piled right up, many were liable to crush
God moves on, God moves, God moves, ah, and the people had to run and pray

Ahh-ah

So many had to leave their happy home, all that they possess
Lord Jesus, will you hear us now, help us in our distress
God moves, God moves, God moves, ah, people had to run and pray

Women had to leave their loving ones, see 'bout their safety
When they heard the liner was doomed, hearts did almost break
God moves, God moves, God moves, ah, and the people had to run and pray

​AG Smith, mighty man, built a boat that he couldn't understand,
Named it a name God didn​'​t intend, the will of the sweet Lord  pulled it in.

God moves, ah, God moves, God moves, ah, and the people had to run and pray

(spoken: Well) Ahh, ah, Lord

« Last Edit: January 19, 2016, 07:34:01 AM by harriet »

Offline Johnm

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Re: God Moves On the Water
« Reply #63 on: January 19, 2016, 08:26:48 AM »
Hi Harriet,
Thanks very much for posting this transcription.  There has been an attempt here, before, to transcribe "God Moves On The Water".  I agree with most of the transcription but for the second half of the last line of the last verse, before the refrain, I'm hearing:
   Made that-a sea, Lord, that pulled it in
I wonder what other folks are hearing.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Gilgamesh

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Re: God Moves On the Water
« Reply #64 on: January 19, 2016, 06:34:08 PM »
"Named it a name God didn​'​t intend, the will of the sweet Lord pulled it in."

This has always been the toughest line. Willie gets a little tongue-tied but that certainly makes a lot of sense.

Offline Johnm

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Re: God Moves On the Water
« Reply #65 on: January 19, 2016, 07:09:14 PM »
Hi all,
However much sense the line makes, the sound doesn't match up with the sound of what Willie Johnson sang.  The sound is much closer to:
   Gave it a name of God in the tin, made that-a sea, Lord, that pulled it in
The second half of the line is enunciated very clearly, it seems to me.  He sings nothing that sounds anything like "the will of sweet" there, and Willie Johnson clearly ends the line with "THAT pulled it in".  It would be nice to have the line solved, but only if it is solved correctly. 
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 19, 2016, 07:26:47 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: God Moves On the Water
« Reply #66 on: January 19, 2016, 08:23:42 PM »
The first part of the end of that last line sounds crystal clear to me as "the middle of the sea, Lord"

I also hear:

Women had to leave their LOVED one, SEEK FOR the safety
When they heard THEIR LOVED ONES was doomed, hearts WOULD almost break.
Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: God Moves On the Water
« Reply #67 on: January 20, 2016, 01:45:43 PM »
I agree after re-listening, Chris.  Second half of that line seems pretty clear:
   middle of the sea, Lord, that pulled it in
The first half of that line is tough!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Gilgamesh

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Re: God Moves On the Water
« Reply #68 on: January 21, 2016, 02:27:33 AM »
The first part of the end of that last line sounds crystal clear to me as "the middle of the sea, Lord"

I also hear:

Women had to leave their LOVED one, SEEK FOR the safety
When they heard THEIR LOVED ONES was doomed, hearts WOULD almost break.
Chris

I think you're right on all the above.

Offline Gilgamesh

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Re: God Moves On the Water
« Reply #69 on: January 21, 2016, 02:35:30 AM »
Hi all,
However much sense the line makes, the sound doesn't match up with the sound of what Willie Johnson sang.  The sound is much closer to:
   Gave it a name of God in the tin, made that-a sea, Lord, that pulled it in
The second half of the line is enunciated very clearly, it seems to me.  He sings nothing that sounds anything like "the will of sweet" there, and Willie Johnson clearly ends the line with "THAT pulled it in".  It would be nice to have the line solved, but only if it is solved correctly. 
All best,
Johnm

"God in the tin" doesn't make sense.

"God didn't intend" makes sense, though that isn't exactly what Willie sings.

Perhaps he realized that six syllables would ruin the meter and improvised a metrically-sound but lyrically-challenged "God n't 'tend" three syllable substitute.

Offline harriet

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Re: God Moves On the Water
« Reply #70 on: January 21, 2016, 04:34:28 AM »
Its definitely tough. I brought it into transcribe, slowed it down and altered the pitch and listened to it through bose speakers.

After listening to it that way I still go with "God didn't intend" although as IMHO Gilgamesh posted it's metrically sounded, and similarly I think the last part is  not exactly to the transcription but - and I used asterisks for dropped letters where I heard them- something like "the wi**of the sweet Law* that pulled it in" for the posted phrase "the will of the sweet Lord  pulled it in"

The idea in this phrasing that God was first offended and then His will sank the boat has a cause and effect meaning which is  a bit more straightforward than other interpretations IMHO, and one that I am satisfied with, though others might not.

So basically no AHA moment on that in any case, thank you for your comments.

Offline Rivers

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Re: God Moves On the Water
« Reply #71 on: January 22, 2016, 07:24:52 PM »
I haven't listened to it in a while but always thought it was:

Named it a name of God in a tin, middle of the sea, Lord, bowled it in

.. as in using tin cans for games of skittles, the iceberg is the ball released from the hand of God. I theorize that someone or other, maybe a journalist or more likely the builders and/or captain, coined the 'God in a tin' phrase. As we know a lot of religious people were unhappy with the adulation shown to that particular work of man, considering it blasphemy. I have no proof of any of this immediately to hand and I've got to get back to work in a few minutes, may have time to research later.

There's a thread on here somewhere that discusses people's attitudes to the sinking, including an element of schadenfreude. Perhaps it was in Johnm's Titanic thread.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: God Moves On the Water
« Reply #72 on: January 23, 2016, 12:45:18 PM »
The problem with "God didn't intend", even if he's dropping syllables to fit it rhythmically, is that he seems to pretty clearly sing "name of" before the word God. I don't think it's just an addition of a rhythmic syllable either "name-uh God...". Pretty sure I hear an F.

I don't know what words he sings though hear a something like "tin" or "ten". Using a "tin god" image here could make sense and apply either to Smith or to the ship itself. But the word order does not come that way unfortunately. And perhaps the name of god is not referring to Willie's Christian God but somehow a reference to the Titans that the ship was named after - e.g. ship named after false gods sucked into the sea. Just throwing things out there.

Offline Rivers

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Re: God Moves On the Water
« Reply #73 on: January 23, 2016, 01:15:53 PM »
It's relatively seldom that we encounter lines in these songs that are wholly devoid of meaning. I tend to think that if it doesn't make sense, we still haven't got the transcription.

The flip side is the temptation to formulate a coherent narrative pass, that is close syllabically, and, by definition, coherent, but simply isn't what's being said. I've been guilty of that many times.

In the end the ears will have it, wish I had the time to sit and listen a few dozen times.

Offline Slack

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Re: God Moves On the Water
« Reply #74 on: January 25, 2016, 01:07:29 PM »
here is an interesting interpretation of the line in question.  Not sure I agree, but 'God in a tin" ... seems pretty darn clear.

http://theforlornpath.blogspot.com/2012/04/remembering-titanic-god-moves-on-water.html

And a similar interpretation here:

http://patwictor.com/index.php?page=news&category=01--Newsletter&display=1560

And Ari's forum discussed it here:  Everyone is stumped.

http://members2.boardhost.com/acoustic_blues/msg/1163883916.html

« Last Edit: January 25, 2016, 01:12:31 PM by Slack »