Blind Willie Johnson had a voice that could burn the skin off your back. When he sang he might as well been gargling with rocks. He made Howlin’ Wolf sound like Frank Sinatra. His gospel recordings are legendary. Most famous, perhaps, is “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground,” or maybe “John The Revelator.”
“Johnson’s music was charred with purgatorial fire — more than sixty years later, you can still smell the smoke on it,” wrote Francis Davis in his book, “The History of the Blues.”
Now a tribute album is in the works. Tom Waits is contributing covers of two songs: “Soul of a Man” and the amazing “John The Revelator.” Lucinda Williams checks in with “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” the Cowboy Junkies recorded “Jesus Coming Soon,” and there are contributions from the Blind Boys of Alabama, Luther Dickinson, Rickie Lee Jones, Sinead O’Connor and more.
To fund the project, producer Jeffrey Gaskill is using Kickstarter. For more of the story, or if you’re interested in checking out what you get for what you give, head to this Kickstarter page.
Listen to “John The Revelator”:
And “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was the Ground.”