It is taking longer than expected to fetch the next song to play. The music should be playing soon. If you get tired of waiting, you can try reloading your browser.


Please check our Help page for information about troubleshooting Pandora on your browser.

Please ensure you are using the latest Flash Player.


If you are unable or do not wish to upgrade your Flash Player,
please try a different browser.


Please check our Help page for information about troubleshooting Pandora on your browser.
Your Pandora One subscription will expire shortly.
More Info
No Thanks
Your Pandora One trial will expire shortly.
Restore
Close
close
Your Pandora One trial subscription will expire shortly. Upgrade to continue unlimited, ad-free listening.
Upgrade Now
You've listened to hours of Pandora this month. Consider upgrading to Pandora One.
More Info
No Thanks
Close
Hi . Pandora is using Facebook to personalize your experience. Learn MoreNo Thanks
-0:00
0:00
Change Skin

We created Pandora to put the Music Genome Project directly in your hands

It’s a new kind of radio –
stations that play only music you like

 
Create an account for free. Register
Now Playing
Music Feed
My Profile
Create a Station
People who also like this

Blind Willie Johnson

Seminal gospel-blues artist Blind Willie Johnson is regarded as one of the greatest bottleneck slide guitarists. Yet the Texas street-corner evangelist is known as much for the his powerful and fervent gruff voice as he is for his ability as a guitarist. He most often sang in a rough, bass voice (only occasionally delivering in his natural tenor) with a volume meant to be heard over the sounds of the streets. Johnson recorded a total of 30 songs during a three-year period and many of these became classics of the gospel-blues, including "Jesus Make up My Dying Bed," "God Don't Never Change," and his most famous, "Dark Was the Night -- Cold Was the Ground."

It is generally agreed that Johnson was born in a small town just South of Waco near Temple, TX, around 1902. His mother died while he was still a baby, and his father eventually remarried. When Johnson was about seven years old, his father and stepmother fought and the stepmother threw lye water, apparently at the father, but the lye got in Willie Johnson's eyes, blinding him. As he got older, Johnson began earning money by playing his guitar, one of the few avenues left to a blind man to earn a living. Instead of a bottleneck, Johnson actually played slide with a pocketknife. Over the years, Johnson played guitar most often in an open D tuning, picking single-note melodies, while using his slide and strumming a bass line with his thumb. He was, however, known to play in a different tuning and without the slide on a few rare occasions. Regardless of his excellent blues technique and sound, Johnson didn't want to be a bluesman, for he was a passionate believer in the Bible. So, he began singing the gospel and interpreting Negro spirituals. He became a Baptist preacher and brought his sermons and music to the streets of the surrounding cities. While performing in Dallas, he met a woman named Angeline and the two married in 1927. Angeline added 19th century hymns to Johnson's repertoire, and the two performed around the Dallas and Waco areas.

On December 3, 1927, Columbia Records brought Blind Willie Johnson into the studio where he recorded six songs that became some of his most enduring recordings: a song about Samson and Delilah called "If I Had My Way," "Mother's Children Have a Hard Time" (often understood as "motherless children"), "It's Nobody's Fault but Mine," "Jesus Make up My Dying Bed," " I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole," and Johnson's single most-acclaimed song, "Dark Was the Night -- Cold Was the Ground," which is about the crucifixion of Christ. But after this session, Johnson didn't return to the studio for an entire year. The second visit (which took place on December 5, 1928) found him accompanied by his wife, Angeline, who provided backing vocals. The two recorded four songs, including "I'm Gonna Run to the City of Refuge" and "Lord, I Just Can't Keep From Cryin'." Songs from these first two sessions were also issued on the Vocalion label. Several months later, Willie and Angeline Johnson met Elder Dave Ross and went with him to New Orleans where Blind Willie Johnson recorded ten songs for Columbia. From this December 1929 session came a few more of his best-known songs, including "God Don't Never Change," "Let Your Light Shine on Me," and "You'll Need Somebody on Your Bond."

Although Blind Willie Johnson was one of Columbia's best-selling race recording artists, he only recorded for them one more time -- in April 1930 -- after which he never heard from them again. This final session took place in Atlanta, GA (again, Johnson was accompanied by Angeline who actually sang lead on a few numbers this time), and consisted of ten songs, including "Can't Nobody Hide From God," "John the Revelator," and the slightly altered "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond." These last two songs were issued on one record that was withdrawn shortly after its release. Despite the fact that Johnson did not record after 1930, he continued to perform on the Texas streets during the '30s and '40s. Unfortunately, in 1947, the Johnsons' home burned to the ground. He caught pneumonia shortly thereafter and died in the ashes of his former home approximately one week after it was destroyed. Purportedly, Angeline Johnson went on to work as a nurse during the 1950s.

Over the years, many artists have covered the gospel songs made famous by Blind Willie Johnson, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and Ry Cooder ("Dark Was the Night" inspired Cooder's score for the movie Paris, Texas). Johnson's song "If I Had My Way" was even revived as a popular hit during the 1960s when it was covered by the contemporary folk band Peter, Paul and Mary. Several excellent collections of Blind Willie Johnson's music exist, including Dark Was the Night (on Sony) and Praise God, I'm Satisfied (on Yazoo). Johnson's music also appears on many compilations of country blues and slide guitar. ~ Joslyn Layne
full bio

Comments

Report as inappropriate
'Dark was the night' as good as music gets. That song was selected to be part of the 'Sounds of Earth' on the 1976 space launch of Voyager 1
Report as inappropriate
Needs a bio.
Report as inappropriate
THANK YOU PANDORA!
Report as inappropriate
...about as good as it can get
Report as inappropriate
A Little bit of everything in TEXAS!
Report as inappropriate
Blind Willie is one of the greatest slide guitarist of all time. Born in Temple, Texas in 1897. Went blind because of lye accident. Died poor in Beaumont, Texas. Said to have used a broken bottle top for his slide.
Report as inappropriate
horacio78613
meteor breath
Report as inappropriate
frijoles_ver d e s
You might watch the Wim Wenders documentary 'The Soul of a Man', about Blind Willie Johnson, Skip James, and JB Lenoir. It was part of the 'Blues' documentary series produced by Martin Scorsese.
Report as inappropriate
hey gals, if you like Blind Willie, you are going to LOVE Memphis Minnie!!
Report as inappropriate
you can tell that these recordings are pretty old, not very sophisticate d at all, but be blessed that we have them all, cause they tell of a time/history that we wouldn't have known about otherwise. Thank you pandora.
Report as inappropriate
who is this guy
Report as inappropriate
Much like Rev. Gary Davis, the music may have roots in blues but the style was used to reach those "unchurched" in the delta and other southern cities. The music reminded them of the old style of home.
Report as inappropriate
like to see his biography

We're sorry, but a browser plugin or firewall may be preventing Pandora from loading.

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please upgrade to a more current browser.

Please check our Help page for more information.

It looks like your browser does not support modern SSL/TLS. Please upgrade your browser.

If you need help, please email: pandora-support@pandora.com.

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please upgrade to a more current browser
or install a newer version of Flash (v.10 or later).

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please install Adobe Flash (v.10 or later).

[70, 106, 97, 87, 76, 117, 104, 116, 100, 71, 77, 104, 110, 120, 109, 120, 104, 126, 112, 125, 73, 96, 68, 66, 118, 68, 97, 88, 91, 80, 116, 74, 99, 66, 105, 115, 72, 111, 111, 69, 68, 107, 103, 122, 78, 119, 92, 100, 66, 65, 94, 92, 101, 104, 75, 77, 83, 70, 119, 103, 65, 81, 92, 107, 85, 122, 113, 114, 84, 64, 123, 126, 123, 122, 68, 116, 73, 111, 112, 110, 96, 102, 75, 122, 80, 110, 114, 69, 84, 119, 94, 127, 64, 95, 111, 78, 91, 125, 75, 79, 69, 89, 114, 94, 121, 67, 81, 109, 65, 112, 103, 89, 101, 111, 68, 84, 92, 75, 68, 118, 96, 66, 65, 93, 72, 98, 82, 65, 81, 100, 83, 82, 104, 73, 116, 127, 110, 98, 112, 123, 113, 106, 115, 71, 79, 78, 90, 67, 71, 104, 114, 88, 84, 67, 88, 75, 102, 93, 72, 70, 111, 76, 123, 85, 91, 67, 78, 79, 117, 77, 92, 119, 124, 78, 77, 106, 106, 125, 126, 85, 117, 104, 75, 125, 86, 122, 117, 112, 87, 78, 86, 81, 78, 112, 100, 114, 78, 112, 97, 75, 104, 107, 113, 100, 118, 124, 95, 76, 81, 99, 114, 86, 71, 114, 65, 98, 85, 87, 64, 95, 114, 118, 103, 90, 80, 103, 81, 117, 97, 117, 99, 95, 126, 98, 79, 101, 82, 113, 118, 118, 94, 119, 111, 107, 66, 107, 72, 109, 109, 68, 81, 122, 125, 111, 108, 110, 66, 117, 101, 105, 109, 117, 83, 79, 86, 107, 84, 91, 64, 64, 81, 120, 110, 65, 97, 100, 82, 91, 75, 68, 124, 90, 75, 86, 73, 86, 125, 104, 105, 123, 66, 114, 118, 86, 72, 70, 67, 98, 116, 80, 122, 66, 102, 80, 87, 70, 76, 91, 84, 68, 124, 91, 86, 73, 71, 111, 72, 70, 125, 87, 69, 115, 104, 122, 117, 122, 119, 104, 77, 92, 113, 75, 124, 95, 87, 101, 107, 87, 81, 69, 78, 92, 119, 87, 109, 104, 69, 98, 93, 113, 112, 86, 65, 81, 121, 116, 86, 118, 77, 82, 110, 115, 99, 107, 107, 127, 86, 117, 112, 86, 93, 89, 94, 124, 127, 103, 89, 72, 118, 122, 112, 64, 105, 82, 89, 117, 68, 107, 83, 80, 70, 84, 67, 98, 102, 112, 102, 96, 115, 72, 103, 78, 112, 108, 88, 112, 77, 120, 84, 92, 121, 122, 125, 88, 85, 117, 109, 121, 109, 105, 118, 101, 83, 92, 65, 80, 92, 79, 70, 82, 102, 85, 72, 74, 86, 81, 105, 72, 66, 87, 77, 112, 127, 126, 89, 93, 108, 83, 73, 79, 96, 111, 127, 95, 65, 102, 81, 105, 81, 108, 84, 77, 116, 123, 74, 67, 112, 126, 91, 119, 99, 110, 126, 114, 99, 93, 66, 99, 124, 109, 87, 73, 91, 121, 118, 90, 110, 73, 65, 110, 113, 98, 84, 127, 93, 96, 97, 64, 120, 119, 94, 125, 115, 122, 83, 68, 96, 91, 93, 90, 82, 121]