Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground (3:19)

Cover of Public Enemies

From Public Enemies and 36 other releases

Ry Cooder, who based his desolate soundtrack to Paris, Texas on “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground”, described it as “the most soulful, transcendent piece in all American music.”

Dark Was The Night, Cold Was the Ground was included on the Voyager Golden Record, sent into space with the Voyager spacecraft in 1977 - Johnson’s music left the solar system on December 16, 2004.

The song is also used in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St Matthew; Walk the Line, a biopic of country singer Johnny Cash; The Devil’s Rejects, a serial killer film by rocker Rob Zombie; and Public Enemies, a Michael Mann’s movie about John Dillinger, a famous criminal from ’30s.

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Albums featuring this track (37)

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  • RAY7654321

    Absolute perfection. Gets my vote as the best recorded performance of the 20h Century.

    27 Oct 10:39am Reply
  • rockandrolljoe

    Yes

    28 Sep 12:04pm Reply
  • pushit

    This song just crashed winamp twice in a row. That's how good it is.

    24 Nov 2013 Reply
  • IJayCarter

    Fucking brilliant.

    1 Oct 2013 Reply
  • beautifuldaddy

    this song sends shivers down my spine

    21 Sep 2013 Reply
  • haloedeyes

    i hope the aliens like this one

    17 Aug 2013 Reply
  • Smekermann

    "Not this McTell character, whoever HE is. Good day, sir." Are you serious? You've never heard fuckin Blind Willie McTell? Jesus. You should probably rectify that ASAP. Anyway, this song is amazing.

    20 Jul 2013 Reply
  • rOOm-on-fire

    magnifique

    29 Mar 2013 Reply
  • Oregon_Myst

    The weight and depth of so many souls on his shoulders. Chilling. ♫ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♫

    17 Feb 2013 Reply
  • captainDread

    Hogwash, Snitsie, on my Bootlegs Mr Bob Dylan sings "I’m gazing out the window of the St. James Hotel and I know no one can sing the blues like Blind Willie Johnson." Johnson! Not this McTell character, whoever HE is. Good day, sir.

    27 Dec 2012 Reply
  • Snitsie

    The wrong Blind Willie, captainDread.

    30 Nov 2012 Reply
  • Oppressotron

    Man's inhumanity to man put down in a wordless dirge. Amen brothers and sisters.

    23 Aug 2012 Reply
  • xtwntraphq

    Soulful. Devotion. Pain. Joy.

    29 Jul 2012 Reply
  • captainDread

    @pushit Give me some credit, man. I know the song is named 'Blind Willie McTell'. I felt Dylan's lyrics conveys the same sentiments as this song does.

    24 May 2012 Reply
  • Davadarho

    this song is floating through space on the Voyager Golden Record - what a trip [2] Now i'm able to understand why the song has been chosen. Staggering recording !

    28 Feb 2012 Reply
  • pushit

    Wrong Blind Willie, man.

    22 Jan 2012 Reply
  • captainDread

    See them big plantations burning; Hear the cracking of the whips; Smell that sweet magnolia blooming; See the ghosts of slavery ships

    30 Sep 2011 Reply
  • gezma

    what a voice. Feel weird after listening to this song; like I need a drink or something. Might just need a little sit down. woah.

    18 Jul 2011 Reply
  • paulfrederic

    today I shed a tear ....I heard the sound of an angel playing the guitar, every chord he hits penetrates deep into my soul ......

    2 Jul 2011 Reply
  • pushit

    I hardly ever listen to this and yet it constantly lives inside me. Possibly the most haunting and perfect piece of music I've ever heard.

    9 Jun 2011 Reply
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