Friday, September 25, 2009

It Must Be Jesus


Gospel music had a big influence on Rock And Roll. In fact, the words "rocking" and "rolling" have been used in prayer meetings for over 100 years. That's where the term "Holy Rollers" came from! Religious chanting is hundreds of years old, but Gospel music as we know it today probably got started in the late 1800's. This music ranges from slow church hymns to wild uptempo black spirituals, and both of these forms had an impact on early Rock And Roll.

Ray Charles got into trouble when he "borrowed" the tune of a well-known Gospel song called It Must Be Jesus, adding new lyrics to create his first big hit, I've Got A Woman. Here's the actual song he copied, done by the Southern Tones on Duke 205 from 1954!


Listen to this early recording of an actual prayer meeting and see if you can tell how these rhythms evolved into Rock And Roll. This is from a 1916 recording on the Little Wonder label, a record company known for producing children's records! The artists are identified only as Male Quartette and the title on the record was simply The Camp Meeting Jubilee. A little warning, by the way, some of the lyrics in this are NOT considered Politically Correct these days!


There's another Gospel record that I'd like you to hear called Pains Of Life by Elijah Fair And The Sensational Gladys Davis Trio. This appeared on Feron 108 in 1967, a full year before Aretha Franklin belted out her big 1968 hit, Chain Of Fools. Of course, Chain Of Fools was written by Don Covay and produced by Jerry Wexler on Atlantic Records. Some people claim that Don Covay ripped off this earlier recording without giving any credit to the original author! Take a listen and you'll clearly hear the similarity. Aretha Franklin, by the way, was born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee. She was raised in Buffalo, New York, and then moved with her family to Detroit, Michigan. She was the daugther of Reverend Cecil L. Franklin, pastor of the Bethel Church in Detroit. She was taught to sing gospel at age nine by Reverend James Cleveland. Clearly, she'd heard and sung a lot of Gospel music in her lifetime.


Speaking of Aretha, her cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water is a very nice Gospel treatment of the Simon And Garfunkel hit. Obviously, Gospel and Rock And Roll music are tightly woven together.


Of course, you'll hear all these recordings, and MUCH more, on MusicMaster Oldies!

I was in Philadelphia for the past few days, but now I'm back with a whole bunch of fresh ideas for future posts. Stay tuned!




4 comments:

  1. I get more emails than comments on my posts. Here's an interesting message I got regarding Pains Of Life, along with my response:

    "First of all, thanks for posting Where Did That Song Come From. It was informative and quite fun. If you have any more like that, I know many would love to see them. I have a friend with Feron 108, who can see in the run off grooves 1967, so that confirms what your site stated. However, Chain Of Fools was recorded in June 67, and released in November 67.
    So, now the question becomes: What month was Pains recorded and what month was it released.
    Pains might have actually been ripped from Chains.
    I'm hoping its the other way around, because its a far better piece of music trivia that way. Anything you might be able to add regarding the Feron 108 release will be much appreciated. I have a bet going with another collector."

    My response:

    "I have Faron 108 as well, but it's buried in my 300,000+ collection somewhere. It would be good to see who got composer credits on that one. I think it was C. L. Davis, but I may be mistaken. It certainly wasn't Don Covay. That would tend to indicate that somebody at Atlantic Records heard Pains and thought nobody would ever notice if they borrowed the melody. That being said, I've played this for a guy who is an A&R guy for a big record label and he got really excited about it. He heard something in Pains that was in the original mix of Chains that didn't end up on the record. That also tends to confirm that Chains is borrowed from Pains. If the gospel record copied the hit, how could they copy something they never heard? Also, Chains didn't become a hit until early 1968. If you're going to hear a hit record and copy it, doesn't it need to BE a hit already?"

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  2. Good day my friend, very good information. I have also a question: Where can i find the lyrics of 'it must be Jesus'? i want them, and because english is not my native language, there are words i can't understand in the song. Thank you

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    1. I'm happy to transcribe them for you. These are the words being sung, according to my hearing of them. I believe this is correct:


      (The background singers repeat "Must be Jesus" throughout, except where noted)

      Oh there's a man,
      Goin' around,
      The land.
      Oh oh yeah.

      There's a man,
      Goin' around,
      Taking names.
      Oh Lord.

      You know he took,
      My mother's name,
      Yes and he left,
      My heart in pain.

      There's a man,
      Goin' around,
      Taking names.
      Oh yeah.

      That man,
      Is giving sight,
      To the blind.
      Oh yeah.

      That man,
      Is giving sight,
      To the blind.
      Oh Lord.

      He healed the sick,
      He raised the dead,
      Yes Jesus gave (yes my Jesus gave),
      Poor and needy bread (poor and needy bread).

      There's a man,
      That's giving sight,
      To the blind.
      Oh yeah.

      And there are days,
      When I'm sad.
      I go to him,
      He'll make me glad.

      He's my water,
      He's by bread,
      And he's my doctor on my sick bed.

      He's my rock,
      My mighty tower,
      He's all my strength,
      And all my power.

      He'll be your mother,
      When mother's gone.
      He'll be your shelter,
      In time of storm.

      When you are burdended,
      Don't know what to do.
      Just trust in him,
      And he'll see you through.

      Oh there's a man,
      Goin' around,
      The land.

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  3. Yes, where can we find the lyrics to "It Must Be Jesus?"

    ReplyDelete