Tracks for Easter – Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet by Gavin Bryars

23 Apr

In 1971 composer Gavin Bryars was recording music for a film about the homeless in London. One man on the streets, who was not drunk, started singing a fragment of an old hymn which Bryars caught on tape. It wasn’t used in the film, but Bryars held onto the clip. The story goes that Bryars left the loop running in his studio one day, while copying it, and came back to find colleagues “unnaturally subdued” and some “quietly weeping”.

He added orchestral backing and released the track on an album in 1975. A re-released version came out in 1993 which features several takes including US throat-rasping legend Tom Waits duetting with the loop.

I first heard this song on the radio as a teenager and picked up a cassette copy in a record store bargain bucket (minus the case of course!) in the 1990s.

The un-named tramp died before he could hear Bryar’s recording. It’s still one of the most moving, disconcerting and comforting things I’ve ever heard – conveying resolute hope in the middle of helpless circumstance.

The music video – also a bit unusual – is below. Happy Easter!

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2 Responses to “Tracks for Easter – Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet by Gavin Bryars”

  1. livingintherainbow April 26, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Loved this series on Easter songs. Thanks for sharing them.

  2. lisa April 26, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    i find this really moving each time i listen to it…

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