Singing through the Dark—Blind Blues & Gospel

You can't trust anyone in the music business. And by that I don't mean the record companies. As a music lover who turns to words and sound with which to harmonise your feelings, you can't trust the impulse of artists who may, for all you know, only be in it for their name in print, face on TV, free drugs, easy sex, the roar of the crowd, assistance with their hair and money. Perhaps they just want to be better than people like you (nevertheless having the nerve to ask you to worship them). You can turn to the underground, but there's absolutely nothing to support the prejudice that the indies are any more sincere than the hit list whores.

And, you may ask, where is the music in all this? Remember music? That primal energy conjured to comfort you, cheer you up, transport your mind and bring you closer or even at one with eternity? Yeah, I'd forgotten it, too…

So no trendy, possibly phony recordings for this post. The artists on this comp recorded music in a time (1927-1957) before such massive attention and cash was lavished on song and dance men and women as it is today. In fact, they made music because they had to: being blind, they had to work for their food somehow. And so the history of country blues and gospel is littered with blind singers and players. They'd busk from town to town, playing sinful blues for the adults and switching to gospel whenever the constable was near. (Doesn't look good to arrest a man or woman of God.) Many recorded songs and even had modest hits that since have become legendary among academic blues listeners. And though they might not have been nearly as pious as they often pretended to be, this music has soul.

There's barrelhouse song and piano pioneer Arizona Drane, husband-and-wife teams AC & Blind Mamie Forehand and Blind Benny & Pauline Parrish. There's Blind Willies Johnson and McTell, Blind Joes Taggart and Reynolds, and Blind Boys of both Alabama and Mississippi. Blind Gary Davis was a reverend and street corner preacher. Harmonica whooper Sonny Terry was blind, as was white fiddler Alfred Reed. Of course, legends Blind Lemon Jefferson and Blind Boy Fuller are on here, as is the obscure Blind Teddy Darby, for good measure.

This is not charity music for your sympathy vote. This is deeply heartfelt singing through the dark. Music you can trust… in chronological order.

Shut yer eyes and listen.

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