Election Soundtrack #12: Trouble in Mind

Perhaps your mind is on the economy, or you're fretting that this election is going to slip from our grasp or be stolen. Just keep in mind these indelible words, sung here by Sister Rosetta Tharpe:

Trouble in mind and I’m blue
But I won’t be blue always
'cause the sun is going to shine in my backdoor someday

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a gospel singer and musician popular in the 1930’s and 40’s, who merged the line between the sacred and the secular. Roseanne Cash reportedly said that Tharpe was one of her father Johnny's favorite singers. She was also known for strapping on that white Gibson SG guitar and wailing away, so she's a bit of a cult favorite of many guitarists. This clip was from the "American Folk Blues and Gospel Caravan" -- a 1964 tour of the U.K. that brought artists such as Muddy Waters and Reverend Gary Davis across the pond.


Unknown said...

Sister Rosetta rocks so hard! She is beyond cool! I've confessed to very few people that when I was in high school I sang bass in a gospel quartet, and we weren't bad (although we weren't really good, either). Sister Rosetta was pretty much unknown in my redneck of the woods -- we were much more Thomas A. Dorsey, which is also a very good place to be -- but I'd stumbled across Sister Rosetta's music and was utterly blown away. Like the Blind Boys and the Gospel Hummingbirds and a few others, she'd draw massive crowds across the South, almost always of black fans and almost never reported in the white press. The gospel story is so important to American pop music. Sam Cooke started as a gospel singer. Marion Williams leads to Aretha Franklin. And of course, Elvis learned it all from the black church. (Although there's also a terrific heritage of white gospel, largely from Appalachia.) I could go on and on ...

MightyToyCannon said...

I wholeheartedly agree about the underappreciated part gospel music played in shaping American pop music. I've also been interested in hearing how gospel groups, such as the Blind Boys, have been interpreting contemporary music in recent recordings.

I recommend another clip of Sister Rosetta from the same U.K. performance, "Didn't It Rain."

This one came to mind as the skies opened up and drenched Portland this evening.


shobiz said...

Thank you for this. I am by no means a music historian (and I'm barely even a musician) but I fancy myself a bit of an afficianado, and am surprised to have never heard of Sister Rosetta before this. From what I've now seen, heard and read, I'm pretty sure she would be overqualified to be a vice presidential candidate by today's standards. Awesome.

MightyToyCannon said...

Here's a link to a review of a biography about Sister Rosetta Tharpe, "Shout, Sister Shout" (Gayle F. Wald).


May I suggest casting Queen Latifah in the role of Sister Rosetta when they make the film biography?