By Steve Newton
Gov’t Mule is one of my favourite bands, and not just because their original music is so damn fine. Once in a while they’ll do a cover of an old blues tune that inspires me to search out previous versions, with wonderful results.
Like back in 1998 when they recorded “John the Revelator” on the album Dose. That got me to check out Son House’s acapella version from the ’60s, and it’s one of the bluesiest things I’ve ever heard.
Last year the Mule turned me on to another deathless blues gem, Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground”, when they recorded it on Revolution Come…Revolution Go.
“We had been talking about taking an old existing Delta blues song or something from a long time ago, and reworking it,” the Mule’s Warren Haynes told me. “And when I started listening to ‘Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground’ with that in mind we thought, ‘Yeah, we could come up with a cool arrangement.’ A lot of people feel like it’s one of the most haunting recordings ever, and I agree. I’m one of those people.”