Bryars: Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet
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Bryars: Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet
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GAVIN BRYARS - JESUS' BLOOD NEVER FAILED ME YET - CD
This late minimalist, 74-minute piece for orchestra and tape has had, and continues to have, a near-legendary effect on its audience. It's the rare work created specifically to tug gently at one's heartstrings that actually does, and not subtly, either. It starts with a found recording of a homeless man singing a halting, simple melody looped over and over. Then Bryars builds and buttresses this with a full orchestra brought in incrementally, from the first carefully placed short pendulum string sweep to, 10 minutes from the end, the gravelly-voiced singer Tom Waits joins in. It's an obvious but effective work--appealing to all the basics of our emotional nervous system, but still tragically beautiful. --Robin Edgerton
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Sometimes thevright person shows up at the right time and is never seen again. Some might say these people are angels.
The story of this piece is well-documented--a found sound recording of a homeless man singing a hymn, with musical accompaniment added and expanded over the years.
What people often don't mention in their (justified) praise of Bryars' ever-deeper layers of strings and horns that he brings in over this song is the effectiveness of the tramp's voice. It's frail yet hopeful, and it serves as the base for the piece. Without this loop, Bryars' music would be good, but nothing special for a person without a classical background. With the loop, it transcends the bounds of minimalist classical music and reaches into our cultural zeitgeist, into ever-increasing melancholy that digs deep down into the soul of the listener, while retaining a sense of enlightenment.
For me, listening to this piece is a spiritual experience.
Tom Waits' musical contribution here is well done but ultimately negligible--some singing along with the tramp, then a solo bit in the coda. But it served to introduce me (and surely other fans) to this incredible piece of music, and that is his true contribution to the piece, in my opinion.
"Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet" is an incredibly moving piece of music that still affects me as deeply today as it did all those years ago. Amazing.
As the five stars would indicate I was not disappointed. At once I was captivated by the beauty of the heart felt and simple song that The Tramp was singing. It spoke volumes on the faith and comfort that this individual took in his relationship with Jesus. Whether onr shares his faith or not you could not help but be touched by the tranquility and hope that came through in his voice.
Now, how to keep this feeling fresh and alive for 74 minutes?
Bryars achieves this admirably with the simple and elegant accompaniment supplied by an orchestra that is coupled in various movements by a string quartet, low strings, full strings and finally culminating with Tom Waits joining The Tramp on vocals,with full orchestra, in the 5th movement.
It is topped off with a coda featuring Tom Waits on vocals with high strings.
By the time the piece was finished I felt thoroughly at peace. This piece is not something you could listen to without fully devoting yourself to the time it takes but it is well worth the time. Enter this musical landscape with an open mind and an open heart.
When I first heard the original on Sinking Of The Titanic, I thought it was really irritating, and I couldn't get the tune out of my head for days. I put the cd away for a few weeks......and then something made me pull it out and listen again. Still irritating.....but there was something about it that made me want to come back and give it another go. The third time around, I *really* started to listen -- and I was hooked. The gradual background (at first) orchestration grows into something fascinating and wonderful, and you just *have* to listen.
Forget about the religious aspect. It's doesn't detract from the music, and I don't think Bryars meant for this to be a religious work anyway. It's an extremely moving piece, simple, rich, and gloriously done. And probably unlike anything else you've ever heard.
Listening to a short clip won't do you any good, but the cd sells cheap enough to take a chance on for a complete listen. But be forewarned: even one complete listen ain't gonna do it. You'll have to stay with this one for a few more turns to appreciate it. You'll want to use the cd for an air catcher on your wind chimes at first, but hang in there, and you'll be richly rewarded.
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After I listen to this it stays with me for a long time ....Read more