Blind Willie Johnson’s blues genius lauded in upcoming tribute album

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By Steve Newton

Blues legends don’t get much more legendary than Blind Willie Johnson, whose recordings in the 1920s of songs like “John the Revelator”, “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine”, and “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning” have inspired versions by everyone from Hot Tuna to Warren Haynes to Led Zeppelin.

So it’s more than fittin’ that Chicago-based blues label Alligator Records announced today that next year it will release an 11-track tribute to the artist titled God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson.

The lineup of musicians performing on the album–which will be released on vinyl as well as CD–is mighty impressive.

Tom Waits performs “Soul of a Man” and “John the Revelator”. Lucinda Williams tackles “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and “God Don’t Never Change”. And Rickie Lee Jones takes on the haunting “Dark Was the Night, Cold was the Ground”:

Speaking of wicked slide-guitar, Derek Trucks will attempt to do Jorma Kaukonen one better with “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning”, which also features his wife Susan Tedeschi on vocals.

“I never heard a slide player, even to this day, play with that much emotion,” says Trucks in the Alligator press release. “I’ve only heard a few things that have hit me quite that strongly. There’s something so honest about his recordings.

“He’s one of the few handful of musicians whose music really feels sacred to me,” adds Trucks. “Johnson’s songs, lyrics and the ability to pair the slide with the voice were amazing. It feels like it came out of a different world.”

Complete track listing:

1) Soul Of A Man (Tom Waits)

2) It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine (Lucinda Williams)

3) Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning (Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi)

4) Jesus Is Coming Soon (Cowboy Junkies)

5) Mother’s Children Have A Hard Time (The Blind Boys of Alabama)

6) Trouble Will Soon Be Over (Sinéad O’Connor)

7) Bye And Bye I’m Going To See The King (Luther Dickinson featuring The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band)

8) God Don’t Never Change (Lucinda Williams)

9) John The Revelator (Tom Waits)

10) Let Your Light Shine On Me (Maria McKee)

11) Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground (Rickie Lee Jones)

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