Posts Tagged ‘Gospel’

A Real Oldie

October 13, 2010

Closer Walk With Thee – Leroy Jodie Pierson from Country Blues

I had no idea who Leroy Jodie Pierson was when I ended up in St. Louis for a blues festival with my friend Yvette a few years ago.  But after seeing him perform, I bought one of his CDs that he was selling after his set.  A throwback, he played a mean acoustic guitar and had a voice made to sing the blues.  It was a highlight of a great day of being in a new city, enjoying great weather and a great music festival with a friend.  So, the CD definitely brings me back to that experience.  I think that everyone has songs and music that evoke good memories that taints our rational thoughts on how “good” that music is.  Having said that, I’d like to believe that I would still love this song without the experiences that it reminds me of.

Part of the reason I think that’s true is because this song is a traditional gospel number that many of us have probably heard at one time or another.  It’s been recorded by a large number of artists since the first known recording in 1941 ranging from Little Richard to Jim Nabors (that may be the one and only time in this blog I can link those two).  Pierson takes a simple approach to his version.  It’s him, his steel guitar (I think as opposed to a regular acoustic), and his voice.  He takes a few liberties with the lyrics (at least from versions I found online) but it’s not really anything to change the meaning of the original song.  Plucking the guitar along with his pleasant but slightly gruff voice, this is as about as simple as music gets.  It’s a reminder that you don’t always have to throw a bunch of instruments and musical styles in the mix to have a great song (a lesson I feel is sometimes forgotten by current musicians).

Sadly, can’t find his version online and none of the other versions I found really were any reasonable facsimile of Pierson’s.  Might be time to break down and start paying to upload my own music…


April 16, 2010

Amazing Grace – Blind Boys of Alabama from Spirit of the Century

My dad is a big bluegrass, gospel, blues, and country fan.  I’ve dabbled in a little of each in my musical lifetime, but recently I’ve been systematically raiding his CD collection (dad hasn’t yet gotten to this whole mp3 fad) and downloading stuff.  Then I listen to it when I can.  A couple songs of the Blind Boys of Alabama had come up in my revolving Itunes shuffle, but then I heard this.

Whether you’re religious or not, you’ve probably heard Amazing Grace sometime in your life.  But you’ve probably never heard it like this before.  This is a bluesified Amazing Grace, which isn’t that out of the ordinary.  The interesting part is that it’s sung to the tune of another song I’ll be writing about someday, the Animals’ House of the Rising Sun.  Now that’s something.  And it works really well.  It makes sense that it does, House, at its core, is a great blues song.  Amazing Grace is a great hymn.  Thanks to the Blind Boys for thinking to put them together.  It’s like an old-fashioned mashup.

They change the key of the Animals’ original so that I swear the guitar sounds like the beginning of Metallica’s The Unforgiven.  The Boys, both lead and backing vocals, sound great.  Deep baritones give the song a gospel feel, while the lead guitar and drums definitely are on a blues tip.  I’m absolutely loving this song, one of the favorite songs I’ve heard this year, even if it’s almost 10 years old now.

Final note, if you’re a fan of the Wire, you’ve probably heard the Blind Boys and didn’t even know it.  Their cover of a Tom Waits song was the theme song of Season 1 of the show.  Damn, another reason for me to dust off the Season 1 DVD and begin my immersion in the Wire.

You can find the song here.