Dark Was The Night
Posted in Contemporary,Gospel,Instrumental on 02.20.09

Dark Was The Night is my favorite song of all time, let me first say that.

There is a new charity compilation by Red Hot called Dark Was The Night with a bunch of indie bands doing mostly covers , and like all things like this is pretty hit and miss. Antony (of Antony and the Johnson’s) does a great cover of the Bob Dylan B-Side “I Was Young When I Left Home” and Sharon and the Dap-Tone’s cover of Inspiration Information is equally excellent.

Kronos Quartet takes on Blind Willie Johnson’s Dark Was The Night and it leaves me confused. I’ve listened to it a dozen times or so and i can’t really pick out if i like or hate it – it’s this rambling confusing take on the side and I just can’t wrap my head around if it’s successfully or not – which isn’t a shining recommendation I know, but download and let me know what ya’ll think.

Kronos Quartet – Dark Was The Night (2009)


12 Comments so far
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By Reilly on 02.20.09 10:28 pm

This piece leaves me pretty confused too, but pleasantly so. It reminds me of traditional Chinese erhu music for some strange reason…meets slide guitar blues and played by a classical string quartet.

By oook on 02.21.09 8:17 am

I like it… as is often the case with alternate readings of a sacred text, the effect is to inspire more careful listening to the original, which makes me realize just WHY I like it so much. Thanks!

By Andy on 02.21.09 8:23 am

I like it, very much; stays (only) just the right side of losing the plot.

By michael on 02.23.09 12:03 am

They really found the spirit of this song.I can really hear the exchange between the different voices, and yes, it does make me like blind willie even more.

By Ronson on 02.23.09 2:26 am

There appears to be one too many slashes in the MP3 link.


By Tony Renner on 02.23.09 2:48 am

sounds pretty cool.

By Marcelo on 02.23.09 12:25 pm

It’s just “interesting” for me. I respect the KQ, but I think they just don’t understand the emotional language Blind Willie used. They just read it, and there’s too much lost in translation.

By Muddy on 02.24.09 4:41 pm

I like this a lot!
I’ve loved BWJ’s recording since I first heard it over 20 years ago.

This version is both fresh and respectful.

By Will Hancock on 02.26.09 2:17 pm

I think its good…in all but a very few number of circumstances im disapointed, no, more like offended, by the “covers” of this sort of material that are produced.Songs of the old gospel/blues idioms are often not all that hard to “play”, and people make the mistake of thinking that its the song that it is cool, not just the performance. or else they conflate the two – a product of the artificial medium of recorded sound (god bless it). In this case KQ is obviously strongly cognicient of this distinction and I think they’re faithful in their efforts to capture its essence while still remaining artistically valid in that they are certainly not trying to BE blind willie johnson (duh.) I cant tell you how embarresed i feel for 21st century white people who try to adopt the personal and colloquial idiosyncracies of these performances or musicians verbatum.

By Jason on 04.26.09 9:53 am

Decent enough, I guess. A bit soul-less. It’s probably not something I would crave listening to again.

By john ellis on 07.20.09 11:05 pm

I love it. I’m aware of the Kronos Quartet, but haven’t heard them in years. I think they did some Hendrix stuff that wasn’t for me. “Dark Was The Night” is among my favorite songs…I’m trying to find the lyrics somewhere.

By Andy on 12.23.15 1:40 am

cakelunch – Got all the parts no problems. Was going to ask touhgh if there were any issues with CD1 and CD6? I’ve downloaded these twice each and for both the extracted files are called KRONOS~1.APE and KRONOS~1.CUE . The CUE doesn’t is not able to position track markers in the .APE with any of a number of players I’ve tried. I can play the (ahem) naked .APE files, but without markers. The other 8 CDs seem fine touhgh. ANyway, of the Kronos Quartet you can’t question their versatility! I was listening to CD4 (Glass- with whom I am at least a little familiar) and CD5 (Golijov/ Gubaidulina/ Ali-Zadeh that I’ve never heard of) today at work- recordings that span melodic melancholy to jarring dissonance. Compilations are a funny thing. You sort of want a decent break after the compelling journey that is The Dreams & Prayers of Isaac the Blind , but then before you can take a breath, you’re hit with the conservatory exercises that follow! That’s not a criticism, mind, I could equally enjoy these in isolation, but such is the nature of compilations that the pieces just follow one after the other!

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