Alligator Records has announced the release of God Don't Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson. Sinéad O'Connor, Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams and a number of other artists have contributed newly recorded versions of the iconic slide guitarist and vocalist's seminal material to the tribute compilation which is due out February 26th.
Also featured on the tribute to the late gospel blues legend are Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Cowboy Junkies, Luther Dickinson, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Maria McKee and Rickie Lee Jones. You can check out the full tracklist at the end of this article.
The forthcoming record is led by producer Jeffrey Gaskill, who also produced Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan but referred to the Blind Willie Johnson project in a press statement as his life's work. The project has been officially in the works since at least 2008, and was backed at least partially by close to 1000 donors via a Kickstarter campaign back in 2013.
On the release, Luther Dickinson said, "He touches everybody. His music is so of the earth that it still sounds completely modern. It's timeless and like nothing else ever recorded. If we could hip anybody to Blind Willie Johnson, their lives would be enriched for sure," reports Jambands.com.
Derek Trucks added, "I never heard a slide player, even to this day, play with that much emotion. 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."
As Pitchfork points out, Johnson's songs have famously been covered by Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Nick Cave, The Be Good Tanyas and many others.
To put things into perspective, Johnson is such an icon that one of his songs that will be featured on the tribute compilation entitled "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" was etched on a gold-plated 12" and sent into space aboard the Voyager 1 alongside the likes of Bach, Mozart and Stravinsky. Listen to that track, below.
The tracklist for God Don't Never Change: The Songs Of Blind Willie Johnson is below:
01. "The Soul of a Man," feat. Tom Waits
02. "It's Nobody's Fault But Mine," feat. Lucinda Williams
03. "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning," feat. Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi
04. "Jesus Is Coming Soon," feat. Cowboy Junkies
05. "Mother's Children Have a Hard Time," feat. The Blind Boys of Alabama
06. "Trouble Will Soon Be Over," feat. Sinéad O'Connor
07. "Bye and Bye I'm Going to See the King," feat. Luther Dickinson
08. "God Don't Never Change," feat. Lucinda Williams
09. "John the Revelator," feat. Tom Waits
10. "Let Your Light Shine on Me," feat. Maria McKee
11. "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground," feat. Rickie Lee Jones