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When I asked Son House to listen to a particular line from a song by Charley Patton that I could not make out, House laughed. He said "You could sit at Charley's feet and not understand a word he sang." - Jeff Todd Titon, Early Downhome Blues

Author Topic: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics  (Read 25070 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Re: God Moves On the Water
« Reply #75 on: February 03, 2016, 04:26:16 PM »
One thing I do know for sure is that "...without a 'c'..." is balderdash. Amazing how such tosh gets enshrined as fact when one person types something on the net and a second person repeats it. It's the aptly named echo chamber effect in action.

The thought process of the poor sod who first dreamed that one up might have gone something like this:

"Let's see now, he's singing about the letter 'c', or perhaps it's 'The Sea', in a song about an ocean liner. Clearly, it must be the letter 'c', because "without a sea" makes even less sense".

Good grief. Talk about twisting the facts to fit an incorrect theory. In other words if you accept that the alphabet thing is wrong, and was designed to fit the first two or three words of the line, the conclusion must be that "Without a..." is also wrong. "Without a sea"? They had more than enough sea. Too much in fact.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2016, 04:30:08 PM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #76 on: March 14, 2016, 06:42:56 AM »
Hi all,
I merged Harriet's recent thread on "God Moves On The Water" into the Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics thread.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Delta

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #77 on: March 27, 2016, 07:35:16 AM »
Maybe I missed it in the thread, but I listen to this song a lot. It's on my favorite CD in the truck.

I came here to see if someone could help me understand it.

Here's how I hear one line:

"Everybody wailed when the war was on
Registered everybody when the war was on"

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #78 on: May 16, 2016, 04:59:29 PM »
Hi all,
I recently was requested to figure out "Trouble Will Soon Be Over" in order to teach a lesson on it.  It's one of Blind Willie Johnson's non-slide thumb lead songs, picked out of Vestapol.  The left hand of the guitar part has a beautiful economy and can be played with just one or two fingers.  I love the sound of Blind Willie Johnson singing with his female musical partner.  Here is the song:



REFRAIN: Oh, trouble, soon be over, sorrow will have an end
Trouble soon be over, oh, sorrow will have an end

Well, Christ is my burden bearer,
He's my only friend
Tell me the end of my sorrow
And tell me to lean on Him

REFRAIN: Trouble, soon be over, sorrow will have an end
Trouble soon be over, oh, sorrow will have an end

God is my strong protection
He's my bosom friend
Trouble rose around me
I know who will take me in

REFRAIN: Trouble, soon be over, sorrow will have an end
Trouble soon be over, oh, sorrow will have an end

Well, though my burden may be heavy
My ailments crush me down
Someday I'll rest with-a Jesus
And wear, starry crown

REFRAIN: Trouble, soon be over, sorrow will have an end
Trouble soon be over, oh, sorrow will have an end

I'll take this-a yoke upon me
And live a Christian life
Take Jesus for uh-my Saviour
My burden will be light

REFRAIN: Trouble, soon be over, sorrow will have an end
Trouble soon be over, oh, sorrow will have an end

All best,
Johnm




« Last Edit: May 16, 2016, 10:29:55 PM by Johnm »

Offline Chezztone

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #79 on: December 17, 2017, 09:56:00 PM »
I don't have any new interpretation of "God Moves On the Water" to add. Just want to point out that it is included on the 2016 Blues Images calendar CD. Maybe the remastered version will help decipher the words! Let us know what you hear. Thanks, Ch.

Offline laservampire

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #80 on: March 15, 2018, 02:38:03 PM »
One of the lines in "God Moves On The Water" has been bugging me for ages, specifically the "liable to crush" line which seemed awkward.

As suggested by Chezztone above, I used the newest remastering on the Blues Images CD and I think I've finally nailed it!

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 alive were crushed
God moves on, God moves, God moves, ah, and the people had to run and pray

Ahh-ah

How 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 loved ones, seek for their safety
When they heard their loved ones was doomed, hearts did almost break
God moves, God moves, God moves, ah, and the people had to run and pray

​A.G. Smith, mighty man, built a boat that he couldn't understand,
Named it a name God didn​'​t intend, middle of the sea, Lord, that pulled it in
God moves, ah, God moves, God moves, ah, and the people had to run and pray

(spoken: Well) Ahh, ah, Lord

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #81 on: July 22, 2019, 10:34:25 AM »
Hi all,
Blind Willie Johnson recorded "Let Your Light Shine On Me" at a session on April 20, 1930, performing it as a solo number and backing himself out of G position in standard tuning.  After a lovely out-of-tempo rendition of the chorus, sung in his natural voice, he launches into vigorous boom-a-chang-a time-keeping for the remainder of his version, which he sings with his bass growl from the second verse onward, with the exception of the end of the final chorus.  Here is "Let Your Light Shine One Me":



REFRAIN: Let it shine on me, let it shine on me
Let your light, from the lighthouse, shine on me
Let it shine on me, let it shine on me
Let your light, from the lighthouse, shine on

My Lord, He done, just what He said
Let your light, from the lighthouse, shine on me
Healed the sick, and He raised the dead
Let your light, from the lighthouse, shine on

REFRAIN: Oh, let it shine on, oh, let it shine on
Let your light, from the lighthouse, shine on me
Shine on, oh, let it shine on
Let your light, from the lighthouse, shine on

I know Iíve got religion, and I ainít ashame
Let your light, from the lighthouse, shine on me
Angels in the heavens, done wrote my name
Let your light, from the lighthouse, shine on

REFRAIN: Oh, let it shine on, oh, let it shine on
Let your light, from the lighthouse, shine on me
Shine on, oh, let it shine on
Let your light, from the lighthouse, shine on

REFRAIN: Oh, let it shine on, oh, let it shine on
Let your light, from the lighthouse, shine on me
Shine on, oh, let it shine on
Let your light, from the lighthouse, shine on me

REFRAIN: Shine on, oh, let it shine on
Let your light, from the lighthouse, shine on me
Shine on, oh, let it shine on
Let your light, shine on me

Edited 7/23 to pick up correction from taft
Edited 7/24 to pick up corrections from Johnm

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 24, 2019, 10:42:07 AM by Johnm »

Offline taft

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #82 on: July 23, 2019, 04:09:28 AM »
I hear: Healed the sick, and He raised the dead

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #83 on: July 23, 2019, 05:59:07 AM »
I hear that too, taft.  Thanks for the catch.  My stupid spell check sand-bagged me again.  I will fix that.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #84 on: July 23, 2019, 02:08:29 PM »
Hi all,
Blind Willie Johnson recorded "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning" at a session on December 5, 1928, for which he was joined by Willie B. Harris on vocals.  As was the case on most of the songs that the duo recorded together, "Keep Your Lamps" employed a complex three-way call-and-response phrasing, in which the actors were Willie singing, Willie B. singing and Willie's slide guitar singing.  In practice, this was made even more complicated by the fact that on occasion Willie and Willie B. sang lines together, often with slightly different words or placement of words.  I've tried to reflect the way the song was performed in the transcription.  If a line is shown in parentheses with no preceding indication, it was sung by Willie B. alone, otherwise the choices are Willie by himself (no parentheses), the guitar (with a preceding indication shown) or Willie and Willie B. together (with a preceding indication shown).  I'm not at all sure I have the lyrics right in the verse that begins "I been journeyin'", and I would very much appreciate correction or corroboration of what I heard there.  Here is "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning":



INTRO SOLO

REFRAIN: Keep a-your lamp (trimmed and burning)
Keep a-your lamp (trimmed and burning)
Keep a-your lamp (trimmed and burning), oh
(See what my God has done)

Sister, donít (get worried)
(Both: Sister, donít) (get worried)
(Both: Sister, donít) (get worried)
(For the work is Ďmost done)

REFRAIN: (Guitar begins line), trimmed and a-burning
(Keep your lamp) (Both: trimmed and a-burning)
(Guitar begins line) (Both: trimmed and a-burning), oh
(See what my God has done)

Brother, donít (get worried)
(Both: Brother,) donít (get worried)
(Both: Brother, donít) (get worried)
(For the work is Ďmost done)

SOLO

Heaven's journey (on before)
Heaven's journey (heís gone before)
Heaven's journey(heís gone before)
(See what my God has done)

(Both: Elders donít, get worried),
Aaah (donít get worried)
Elders (Both: donít) (get worried)
(For the work is Ďmost done)

(Guitar begins line) almost (Both: over)
(Guitar begins line) (Both: itís almost over)
(Guitar begins line) (Both: almost over), uh
(See what my God has done)

Brother, donít (get worried)
(Both: Brother, donít) (get worried)
(Both: Brother, donít) (get worried)
(For the work is Ďmost done)

SOLO

Edited 7/24 to pick up correction from banjochris

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 24, 2019, 02:04:31 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #85 on: July 24, 2019, 01:41:19 PM »
Here's what I hear, John Ė

Heaven's journey (on before)
Heaven's journey (he's gone before)
Heaven's journey (he's gone before) - I think she sings befo-ore rather than "before God"
(See what my Lord has done)

Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #86 on: July 24, 2019, 02:01:58 PM »
Thanks so much, Chris.  As so often happens, once you point it out, I can hear it as plain as day--and it was just as unclear before you pointed it out.  Thanks, and I will make the change.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #87 on: July 25, 2019, 11:51:50 AM »
Hi all,
I posted lyrics for "Trouble will Soon Be Over" further up this page in the thread, using a video that came from one of the Wim Wenders-directed parts of Martin Scorsese's "Story of the Blues".  Unbeknownst to me at the time, the video had two verses edited out, and was pitch "corrected".  Here is a video that has Blind Willie Johnson's full rendition.  The added verses are the third and the sixth, which are the same as each other.  I'd very much appreciate corroboration or correction of that verse--it seems like the last word in the second line should be "cave", but it sounds as though he is pretty clearly saying "cage".  Here is the video, with what I have for the third and sixth verses posted below it:



Here is what I have for the verses that were missing from the previous post:

He proved a friend to David
How they hid him in a cage
But the same God that David served
Will give me a rest someday

Thanks for any help with it.
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #88 on: July 29, 2019, 10:26:57 AM »
For what it's worth, John, I hear it the same way, with "cage."
Chris

Offline harriet

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Re: Blind Willie Johnson Lyrics
« Reply #89 on: July 30, 2019, 05:56:30 PM »
I hear that as well. I found on wikipedia there's reference in the Old Testament that David was hid in a "cave" but I don't know if that's what BWJ's referring to.

Harriet

 


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