Blind Willie Johnson: His Life and Music

Posted: October 31, 2011 in Blind Willie Johnson, Jas Obrecht, Pre war blues

Author : Jas Obrecht

Source :


“A singing street-corner evangelist, Blind Willie Johnson created some of the most intensely moving records of the 20th century. Void of frivolity or uncertainty, his 78s from the 1920s and ’30s are clearly the work of a pained believer seeking redemption. A slide guitarist nonpareil, Johnson had an exquisite sense of timing and tone, using a pocketknife or ring slider to duplicate his vocal inflections or to produce an unforgettable phrase from a single strike of a string. Eric Clapton cites his “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine” as “probably the finest slide guitar playing you’ll ever hear,” and Ry Cooder calls “Dark Was the Night – Cold Was the Ground” the “most transcendent piece in all American music.”

“Blind Willie Johnson had great dexterity,” Ry Cooder described, “because he could play all of these sparking little melody lines. He had fabulous syncopation; he could keep his thumb going really strong. He’s so good – I mean, he’s just so good! Beyond being a guitar player, I think the guy is one of these interplanetary world musicians, the kind of person they talk about in that Nada Brahma book, where the world is sound and everything is resonating. He’s one of those guys. There’s only a few. Blind Willie Johnson is in the ether somewhere. He’s up there in the zone.”



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