Blind Willie Johnson: “Soul of a Man”

The trailer for Son of God is making the rounds, and it includes a modern version of an old song by blues legend Blind Willie Johnson. You really should listen to more Blind Willie.

Here’s the trailer:

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And here’s the new version in its entirety:

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It’s a not a bad cover: a little overwrought (why does everything have to sound like Media Ventures these days?), but it’s movie music and it works well in the trailer.

Compare it, though, with the original:

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Put aside the primitive recording and focus on Blind Willie’s voice and guitar, which has a power that no amount of studio production gloss can surpass.

If you want an idea of how good he could be, just try this wordless meditation on the death of Christ: “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground.”

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And here’s “If I Had My Way I’d Tear This Building Down,” about Samson:

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And one more: “God Moves on the Water,” about the sinking of the Titanic as punishment for man’s hubris:

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • Brian Sullivan

    Soul of a Man was the 1st thing I noticed about the trailer. Bruce Cockburn has a great vesion:

  • Jakeithus

    Well the cover starts off a little too slow for my taste, but it picks up as it goes along. Not all terrible.

    You’re right, it doesn’t compare to the power held in the original. The grit and dirt found in the blues is sorely lacking from most music these days.

  • Manny

    You know, he’s a new one for me. I thought I had something from Blind Willie Johnson, but I was thinking of Blind Lemon Jefferson. I also have The Blind Boys of Mississippi. But no Willie Johnson. I thought I had most of the old blues, but Johnson probably is more Gospel than blues. Thanks, I’m going to have to get a sample record. I really do like “Soul of a Man,” both the cover and the original. The cover fills in more of the tonal range (if that’s the right term) with more accompaniment instrumentation, so it doesn’t sound as flat. But the original has a raw honesty to it. Love the melody.

  • Manny


  • Viola Larson

    Thank you for putting all of the Blind Willie Nelson videos up.