Blues was not only present on Broadway; Blues is also found in space. The song is : “Dark was the night; cold was the ground”. It is an instrumental song, moaned by Blind Willie Johnson. It was warped into space in 1977 on the Voyager Golden Record which contains 27 media samples to represent the diversity of life on Earth, should the record ever fall into the hands of some extra-terrestrial life. The song was chosen to represent loneliness.
Not many details are known or confirmed about the life of Blind Willie Johnson, but the little that is known can perfectly make us understand the background of this magnificent song that cuts you in the soul, and has been covered so many times afterwards.
Blind Willie Johnson was born in 1897 in Texas and died at the age of 48 from malaria. He was probably not born blind, but became blind as the result of an agressive act by his stepmother who defended herself from her husband who had caught his wife going out with another man. At the age of 5 (believe it or not !?), Blind Willie Johnson already expressed the wish to become a preacher. It is a fact however that his total musical oeuvre is made up of religiously inspired blues/gospel songs. He is also considered as on of the greatest slide guitarist that ever lived. His life was less fortunate. He remained poor all his life, getting his means for survival from singing and preaching in the streets.
At the time Europe was confronted with the start of WW II, his house burnt down and since he had no other place to go to, he just stayed in the ruined place. He died the same year.
Loneliness : Dark was the night, cold was the ground.