Week 62 (or 61 depending on you count them) and, looking back, it has amazed me that the overwhelming literary source for the high end material known as "litrock" has been the Bible.
Then again, maybe I shouldn't be so amazed. First and second generation blues musicians frequently talked about the relationship of gospel music and blues, juke joint Saturday nights and church singing Sunday mornings. Blues, of course, being the Devil's music and gospel, the Lord's.
This week's selection for Issa's Sunday Service is a song that is positively possessed, a song of the prophet who wrote the book full of hell fire and redemption, speaking in tongues and apocalyptic visions: "John the Revelator." There are a gazillion renditions of this number: rock, folk, blues, gospel, you name it. Since this feature is geared to rock, with the occasional detour, today's rendition is by one of only a handful of jam bands that are a blip on the ordinary music listeners radar: Gov't Mule (two others being the Grateful Dead and Phish).
While looking around for a decent version of "John The Revelator," I discovered that Nick Cave made it all his own, including some new lyrics. Maybe not my favorite, but certainly worth a listen for Cave fans and, the more I listen, the more possessed by it I seem.
Jack White of White Stripes, channeling early Black Sabbath, has also made this his own by writing an intro about war and devastation, the whole becoming the medley "Cannon/John The Revelator," here done live in France in 2007.
Of course, this is Son House's song, plain and simple, so I was hoping to find some video of hime performing it for full effect, but no luck. So, here's Son House's acapella version, with the complete lyrics:
Albert Huffstickler has been featured here many times and this week's poem adds to an impressive list of fine work: from Lilliput Review, #93, back in December 1997, a little waft of cool air in this abysmally hot weather, to tip us towards things to come:
Autumn is how
the distance grows
in the vacant lot a ruckus
translated by David G. Lanoue