Saturday, June 22, 2013

Homer Quincy Smith: "I want Jesus to walk with me"

The mysterious, unknown Homer Quincy Smith walked out of the black American South and recorded two unforgettable performances, then drifted back into the anonymous depths. "I want Jesus to walk with me," an African-American spiritual was one of them. (The title of the song says "talk with me," but the lyrics, and Smith sings accordingly, says "walk with me".)

As commenter Chris Alvarez states:
Why don’t they have music like this in church anymore? This negro spiritual confronts the same post-modern landscape as No Church in the Wild. Along with the strains of a haunted house organ, Homer Quincy Smith pleads for Jesus to walk with him:

I want Jesus to walk with me
I want Jesus to walk with me
All along my pilgrim journey
I want Jesus to walk with me

As night is falling, Lord, walk with me
As night is falling, Lord, walk with me
When the shades of evening fall o’er me
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me

What the evangelicals with their guitars and drums and the Baptists with their frenetic gospel and the Presbyterians with their acoustical majesty and the Episcopalians with their choral Bach seem to have totally forgotten is that to ask Jesus to walk with you is an act of insane desperation, because the pilgrim journey is really fucking hard, and there’s no guarantee you’re going to get what you want.

Keep on marching my sisters and brothers.
If this music touched you, check out Smith's other haunting masterpiece, "Go Down Moses."

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