Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

The Songbook of John

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

The Songbook of John

Article excerpt

John the Revelator," first recorded by Blind Willie Johnson in 1930, has seen an impressive range of treatments throughout the years. This chronicle of John of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelation, has been interpreted by everyone from traditional artists Son House and Sister Rosetta Tharpe to rock singersongwriters Tom Waits and Beck.

The hardy song lends itself to different melodic and harmonic approaches. Blind Willie Johnson (profiled on page 24) sang it in the major mode, with a static harmony, while Son House sang it in the minor, a capella, for instance.

Our arrangement, not based on any particular version, is based on an eight-bar blues form in E minor, containing the i, iy and V7 chords (Em, Am, and B7, respectively).

The eight-bar form is shown here in notation and tablature and is used for both the chorus and verse sections. …

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