MOTHER'S CHILDREN (HAVE A HARD TIME)

Latest update on 17/03/2016

Artist: Blind Willie Johnson
Author: S.C. Brown/Charles Driscoll
Label: Columbia
Year: 1927

Copyrighted in 1904, but the oldest written version with Motherless Children in the lyrics is from 1911. Uptempo gospel blues, thematically influenced by older hymn Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child (see there).

Covers:

1929:

Carter Family [as Motherless Children; knew it as a gospel song but met Blind Willie Johnson personally in '28]

1930:

Bessemer Melody Boys [idem; crediting Thomas Dorsey]

1933:

Josh White [idem]

1935:

Blind Gussie Nesbitt [idem]

1939:

Dixie Hummingbirds

1949:

Blind Willie McTell

1955:

Jesse Fuller

1956:

Odetta

1960:

Mance Lipscomb

1961:

Rev. Gary Davis

1963:

Dave Van Ronk

1965:

Son House

1965:

John Renbourn

1966:

Gospelaires

1969:

Steve Miller

1970:

Jerry Garcia & Friends

1970:

Joe South

1972:

Taj Mahal [in film Sounder]

1974:

Eric Clapton [knows what he's singing about]

1975:

Roscoe Holcomb

1976:

Charlie Rich

1978:

Big Joe Williams

1979:

Lucinda Williams

1992:

Big Sugar

1992:

Tim & Molly O'Brien

1994:

Henry Qualls

1995:

Kelly Joe Phelps [most versions as Motherless Children]

1997:

Elmo Williams & Hezekiah Early [as Mother's Dead]

2009:

Rosanne Cash

2016:

Blind Boys Of Alabama

Not to be confused, neither with Barbecue Bob's Motherless Child Blues (see there), nor with Elvie Thomas' Motherless Child Blues, cut for Paramount in 1930 and covered by Tracy Nelson and Earl Scruggs. Motherlessness is a popular song topic throughout history, for both sheetmusic publishers and streetsingers. Sentimentality sells.

Contact


If you noticed blunt omissions, mis-interpretations or even out-and-out errors, please let us know by contacting us:

Arnold Rypens
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B-2840 Reet (Rumst)

info@originals.be

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