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Origins: John the Revelator?

Related threads:
Lyr Req: Time (The Revelator) (G Welch, D Rawlings (19)
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Lyr Req: John the Revelator (5)


Mick@capable.demon.co.uk. 14 Jan 97 - 08:09 PM
Truman Price 25 Jul 99 - 07:16 PM
katlaughing 25 Jul 99 - 07:26 PM
25 Jul 99 - 08:42 PM
katlaughing 25 Jul 99 - 09:15 PM
The Resonator 26 Jul 99 - 12:14 AM
Arkie 26 Jul 99 - 12:44 AM
RWilhelm 02 Aug 99 - 11:54 AM
Arnie Naiman 02 Aug 99 - 12:54 PM
ideot 06 Nov 03 - 10:27 AM
GUEST,kay-kay 05 Sep 04 - 08:04 AM
wysiwyg 05 Sep 04 - 08:18 AM
ddw 05 Sep 04 - 10:15 AM
Bobert 05 Sep 04 - 08:00 PM
Peace 05 Sep 04 - 08:25 PM
Bobert 05 Sep 04 - 08:55 PM
Peace 05 Sep 04 - 09:44 PM
Peace 05 Sep 04 - 09:46 PM
Devilmaster 05 Sep 04 - 11:03 PM
Bobert 05 Sep 04 - 11:23 PM
Phil Cooper 06 Sep 04 - 12:50 AM
GUEST,Richard's other computer 06 Sep 04 - 02:38 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Sep 04 - 07:22 PM
wysiwyg 06 Sep 04 - 07:26 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Sep 04 - 07:56 PM
GUEST,JPJohnson@C21Cornerstone.com 26 Sep 05 - 11:40 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Sep 05 - 03:17 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 Sep 05 - 10:33 AM
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Subject: John the Revelator
From: Mick@capable.demon.co.uk.
Date: 14 Jan 97 - 08:09 PM

This is a song by Blind Willie Johnson and I'm trying to decipher the lyrics.Does anyone have them, or have they been published anywhere?


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Subject: John the Revelator?
From: Truman Price
Date: 25 Jul 99 - 07:16 PM

Who else did John the Revelator? & where to find? (i.e., someone like Mississippi John Hurt, for example, or many other possibilities)


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Jul 99 - 07:26 PM

Truman,

If you go to the Forum Search function (above) and put "John the Revelator" in the Subject line, several postings to 2 or 3 threads about this song come up. Here's a link to the listings John the Revelator

I didn't look at each of them, but I do know one of them has the lyrics and hopefully more info, too.

Good luck,

katlaughing


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From:
Date: 25 Jul 99 - 08:42 PM

katlaughing, Thanks for the help. I'd tried the database search to no avail, but didn't know about the forum search. Will use it in the future. Truman


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Jul 99 - 09:15 PM

No problem, Truman. Glad to be of help. Welcome to the Mudcat!

kat


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: The Resonator
Date: 26 Jul 99 - 12:14 AM

"Tell me who's that riding? John the Revelator. Wrote the book of the seven seals."

Son House has a version of that on the album from 1965. It's also on his CD in the "Mojo Workin'" series and, for the full effect, he's on video singing the song. I believe the video is on Shanachie, perhaps Yazoo. He does it a capella. Powerful.

Blind Willie Johnson also has a duet version of that great old song. I bet if you get around those church singers you'll find plenty of versions. Anyway, here's a couple to get you started.

Peace.


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: Arkie
Date: 26 Jul 99 - 12:44 AM

Check out Blues Brothers 2000. Couple of versions in the film. My favorite version, which I think was done by Taj Mahal, was left off the CD, however.


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: RWilhelm
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 11:54 AM

Also included on the new Holy Modal Rounder's CD, "Too Much Fun"


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: Arnie Naiman
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 12:54 PM

Andy Cohen Marimac recording entitled "Preachin' In The Wilderness" - very cool!


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: ideot
Date: 06 Nov 03 - 10:27 AM

The white stripes have a song called cannon on their self-titled album and part of "John the revelator" is in the middle. It's real rockin but jack white manages to keep it real.


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: GUEST,kay-kay
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 08:04 AM

Trying to find ORIGINAL artist...John the Revelator. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 08:18 AM

Try WFMU Sinner's Crossroads, searchable online archives.

~S~


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: ddw
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 10:15 AM

Truman,

As mentioned above, Blind Willie Johnson recorded this song, along with a woman singer named Willie B. Harris, during his fifth recording session, which was held in Atlanta on April 20, 1930. There may be an earlier recorded version, but if there is I've never encountered it. I think Rev. Gary Davis and a few later players may have covered it, but I'm not sure. I know Davis did cover a lot of BWJ's stuff and I've run into a lot of people who think his versions are the original. I found some gratification in knowing Davis (whose work I admire, but don't particularly like) was doing bad copies of a much greater talent's stuff.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: Bobert
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 08:00 PM

Well, I've always thought it was Son House's song since I don't know of anyone who recorded it any earlier than Son. Also, for those less knowledgeable about Son, he was also quite a preacherman who was known to play blues and drink way into the night in the juike joints and be the firts up delivering a Sunday morning sermon... He was also a tormented man because of problems squaring his drinkin' and bluesin' with his Faith...

So, unless someone knows somethin' that a lot of blues folks, such as myself, about the origin of the song, Iz sticken with Son House.

Bobert


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: Peace
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 08:25 PM

www.nederpoparchief.nl/bluesbrothers/john.html

This site (above) credits Son House as the author.

www.ibiblio.org/jimmy/folkden/ php/search/individ.php?mid

The above site says what follows:

This song was recorded originally in 1930 by Blind Willie Johnson. He was one of the foremost African American singers of religious songs, with thirty records to his credit. On his recording of this song, his wife, Angeline sang the answer back part.


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: Bobert
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 08:55 PM

That's the problems when it comes to the blues... So much stuff was allready out there before it started being recorded in the 20's, that's it's almost impossible to say wyho wrote what.

A good example can be found on Mudddy Water's "Plantation Recordings" with Alan Lomax askin' Muddy about the origins of songs and Muddy takes credit for something that Lomax had heard had been done by Son House and then Muddy says "Yeah, Mr. Son House taught me that song." And look at "Walkin' Blues" that lots of folks attribute to Robert Johnson, yet other musicans at the time were recording similar songs with some of the same phrases...

We had this very discussion a couple two or three years ago over at Tweedsblues and eventually just had to throw in the towell on it because there just isn't much documentation. There are a few remaining recordings, thanks mostly to the Lomaxes, but lots of these folks didn't write and so other than recordings, which do no prove authorship, we just don't have much to go on...

As fir Blind Willie Johnson being the first to record the song in 1930 one has to keep in mind that Son House was allreaqdy not only a legendary bluesman in 1930 but a heavily copied one at that...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: Peace
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 09:44 PM

Yeah. And memories tend to change--fade--embellish over time. I have trouble remembering stuff I wrote thirty years back, and we take traditional stuff and arrange it to suit our styles and performances. There is a neat site

Tribulation.com

Has an organy-sounding thing playing melodies from various churchy songs. Amongst them is the melody for John the Revelator which I have never heard before. Is that the melody that would have been used by Son House?

Back to you, buddy.

PS How's the ticker?


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: Peace
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 09:46 PM

PS Sure doesn't sound like something that would have been done by an ol' blues guy.


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: Devilmaster
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 11:03 PM

Checked my copy of Blues Brothers 2000 (i know, I know, the movie was so-so, but I had to have the video of the louisiana gator boys)

Anyways, the movie says that John the Revelator is a traditional piece, arranged by Son House.

The song was used twice in the movie, in the opening credits acapella by Taj Mahal. And then later in the movie by Sam Moore with a gospel chorale.

Steve


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: Bobert
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 11:23 PM

Well, brucie, the ticker is better than the sound card in my pudder, which is dead as Kelsey's d***.......

Son was a strange bluesman. Just when ya' think ya had him pegged he'd come up with an entire different arrangement. Some of them were very much influenced by Charlie Patton, but hey, who wasn't influenced bt Charlie Patton... I'd like to know where he *stole* (half kiddin') his stuff from but there ain't no recorded roadmap back that far.... But that lick that Son uses in "Death Letter", and that Robert Johnson uses in "Walkin' Blues" and whomever it was that originally recorded "Red Rooster Blues" is all Charlie Patton...

But back to Son House. He had a lot of tricks of his own. Some of them I'm sure he learned from Willie Brown and lots from others. One thing that Son did with alot of his stuff was a repetion within the the first two lines of a verse:

Well, there was a mean ol' fireman, mean old fireman
Cruel engineer

Yeah, mean ol' fireman, mean ol' fireman and a
cruel engineer

Got my baby on board but
left me standin' here

Sometimes Son would repeat the "mean ol' fiemaqn a third time within the verse... This is different that what we're finding in others of his day...

But "John the Revelator" is entirely different in that it is very much a sermon... No music... Just spoken... This is very much a believable manner in which Son House would have given a prepared sermon and not far from the impromptu serman he gives on the '64 taping (availbale on video) of one of his sessions where ha just stands up between songs and pours his heart out about the inner conflicts between blues and Faith...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: John the Revelator?
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 12:50 AM

There's also a version by British guitar sideman Andy Roberts from his first album "Homegrown," done in the '70's.


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Subject: RE: Origins: John the Revelator?
From: GUEST,Richard's other computer
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 02:38 PM

My clearest recollection of it is the Wild Man Fisher version - not spoken but sung with pitch (at least as much as WMF ever did).


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Subject: RE: Origins: John the Revelator?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 07:22 PM

A bit of trivia- the phrase "John the Revelator" first is known in pring in 1801 in the 'Massachusetts Spy,' a newspaper.

The song with Johnson's words (not his singing) may be downloaded at the site given by brucie. Here is the link:
John the Revelator
Also good eight-verse lyrics.

Allmusic has 86 listings (1970 on), plus "New John the Revelator," and "Alphabets of the Bible" (based on John the Revelator). In addition to Johnson, Son House and Rusty Goodman are listed as 'composers.'


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Subject: RE: Origins: John the Revelator?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 07:26 PM

As posted elsewhere:

The more you listen to the spirituals that are documented as authentic spirituals, the more you hear songs that you realize later became blues or some variant of "gospel" you might have heard on a commercial recording. When these adaptations got recorded, whoever recorded it often grabbed a songwriting or arranging copyright, and thus established a toehold in the commercial music economy by making fair use of songs they had heard from their cradles. We confuse ourselves when we assume that they sat down one day and actually composed the song. As you hear the spirituals, you realize these commercial songs mostly floated up out of people's bellies, memories, and souls.

Stylistic features attributed to particular performers (especially the guitar work that fascinates us today) are actually representations of what they'd heard sung-- vocalizations improvised originally and then folk-processed into traditional parts of songs.

As an example, I always thought Gary Davis wrote some really cool gospel. Well, he didn't. He applied what he had heard, in so many cases I have found, that I suspect that's true of ALL his gospel work. "Wrote" is a pretty loose term, it turns out.

So "origins" questions can be, "what did this first mean" or "what is the earliest recording" or "when was it written down" or "who has copyright and why" or "who collected it in the field and when" or "who made the first dollar on this"......... And in our own time, "who recorded it" usually means vinyl. But to me it means WAX-- field recordings. Cuz it's FOLK music, whether it later got commercial enough to catch others' attention, or not.

At a certain point you stop documenting these relationships between spirituals and later, commercial songs, because there are too many, and there are so many versions, that it all finally just comes across as music to be enjoyed and taken into oneself.


~S


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Subject: RE: Origins: John the Revelator?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 07:56 PM

For a particular song, the best way of defining its origin is based upon when and by whom it first appeared in a recognizable form that may be credited to a particular person or persons. Otherwise the first person who included 'blue skies' in lyrics could be credited with Irving Berlin's song "Blue Skies."


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Subject: RE: Origins: John the Revelator?
From: GUEST,JPJohnson@C21Cornerstone.com
Date: 26 Sep 05 - 11:40 PM

Earliest recorded version is by Blind Willie Johnson 1930. It's an old slave song. Earliest written version is from 1880's


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Subject: RE: Origins: John the Revelator?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Sep 05 - 03:17 PM

Blind Willie Johnson's 1930 recording was cited by Dicho, 19 Mar. 02, thread 5825: Add John the Revelator

"John the Revelator" or the use of the word 'revelator,' has not yet been found in the 19th c. spirituals or slave songs, although there are a number of them about John saw the holy number, the book of seven seals, or John of the holy order.
As mentioned elsewhere, the name appeared in a white newspaper in 1801. I would not doubt that there is a hymn with the term 'revelator' but haven't seen it.

A 19th c. African-American spiritual , "John Saw the Heav'n and Earth Made New," is in the Cyberhymnal, but not recorded in the Cleveland Index. No mention of 'revelator'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: John the Revelator?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Sep 05 - 10:33 AM

A couple of gospel versions of "John the Revelator," are found on the internet, but without date or author. They seem to be 20th c.


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