Corey Harris: Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground


Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground


Corey Harris (guitar, vocals)


Mississippi to Mali (Rounder Records 11661-3198)

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Corey Harris (guitar, vocals).

Composed by Blind Willie Johnson


Recorded: Dundee and Senatobia, Mississippi, March 2003


Rating: 89/100 (learn more)

Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" is not an easy song to cover; the original is one of the most haunting documents of 20th century American music. But Corey Harris is not one to walk away from a challenge. After all, this is the fellow who traveled to Mali to play with Ali Farka Touré , collaborated with filmmaker Martin Scorsese, and won a MacArthur genius grant. And he's only a thirty-something. Of course, he can play mean blues, when he's not doing reggae or working on some other project. He knows the tradition, and when he plays this music, it comes vividly to life; and can inspire others with its power. Blues needs people like Corey Harris - so let's hope he doesn't get sidetracked into soundtracks or folk music or some other commercial deal. But my fear is that this artist - like so many other blues talents of his generation - will merely look at acoustic blues as a way station on the path to bigger markets.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


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