The Story Of A Blind Texan Sharing His Light With The Universe

A new children’s book recalls the life of Blind Willie Johnson.

By Laura RiceNovember 5, 2020 11:21 am,

Gary Golio has written many children’s books. He says he was drawn to the history of Blind Willie Johnson. Johnson was born near Temple in 1897.

“The reason I wrote it is because I think it kind of speaks to the magic and mystery of being a human being on planet Earth.”

“As a young boy, he had a beautiful, beautiful singing voice. Unfortunately, his mother died when he was about five, and then he lost his sight when he was about seven or eight. But he quickly recouped and became a popular singer in gospel circles, in churches at that time and on street corners singing with people like Blind Lemon Jefferson. And Willie eventually made some records, some very popular records in the late 1920s, early 1930s.”

“They were sending this beautiful record, this this gold-plated copper record up into space in the hope that someday, perhaps extraterrestrials would find this and learn something about the sights and sounds of planet Earth. And Alan Lomax listened and he said…  ‘there’s one song that I think you’re missing. And for me, it’s the embodiment of human loneliness.’ And the song, of course, was ‘Dark Was The Night’ by Blind Willie Johnson.”

“People from Eric Clapton to Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Lucinda Williams, Jack White. If you ask them who’s the greatest slide guitarist that they know of, they’ll all say Blind Willie Johnson.”

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