Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

Revelation: Blind Willie Johnson The Biography by D. N. Blakey

I have been asked to explain what motivated me into writing my book Revelation Blind Willie Johnson The Biography, well firstly of course is a love of the subject matter which for me goes back many years! I was always impressed and moved by the power that came across from Blind Willie's records and wanted to know all I could about the man who created them.To most people a lot of what Johnson is singing about can not be easily understood and over the years I had tried to find out what the hell he was singing about!! I did find a lot in the Yazzoo Records lyrics books by R. R. MacLeod etc., who incidentally has praised me for my work in adding to his understanding of the lyrics of Johnson, which to me is praise indeed! Also though elswhere you will see examples of misheard Johnson's lyrics which are so wrong it's hilarious!

So as the main plank of my book I present all the lyrics to all of Johnson's songs for the first time ever in print, I am certain that at least 95% are correct and also explain where each song comes from, some many years before Blind Willie was born, for example, the book contains the whole story of Samson from the Bible to reveal the story in the song If I Had My Way I'd Tear The Building Down. Also, how and why Willie sings each word and even the apparent ad libs to demonstrate how he organised each song in his mind. After the lyrics I examine his guitar work, the different tunings etc. and reveal, for example something unusual he did while tuning his guitar.

To decipher all of this took a lot of time over the years and more intensively over the last two years once I had decided to have a go and writing the book, I as a fan was hoping one day to read! To comlete the book as a biography I had to collect and collate all known information out there including the new research carried out by Texas journalist, Michael Corcoran, which finally tipped me into taking on the project. I was helped editorially by my pal Phil who shares the love of the music with me, writers on the Blues etc. like Sam Charters, Dave Evans and Elijah Wald advised and passed on material to me, although the book may not be as scholarly as some would like but there is lots of new stuff on Blind Willie's life in there even for the aficionados!

I was offered money by an organisation who wished to publish the book but decided to go it alone and publish through Lulu which worked out really well, after one or two teething problems I am satisfied with the book and recommend it as do Amazon where it is now on sale, especially as a companion while listening to Blind Willie's music, specifically perhaps, The Complete Blind Willie Johnson!

I hope this explains why I wrote the book and hope it helps readers to understand and enjoy Blind Willie Johnson even more!!


D. N. Blakey January 21st 2008


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