Daily Dose: ‘Didn’t It Rain’ by Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Hearing a song by Sister Rosetta Tharpe should be a mandatory requirement for anyone who has ever listened to music at any point, and should be because of this following point: she was a black woman in the early part of the twentieth century who basically invented rock and roll. If you don’t appreciate how ridiculous that statement is then you are either too jaded or underestimate just how awful the African American and female experience has been for most of history. In order to transcend all that, you need a serious inner force, and one look at Tharpe will tell you that she had a serious power to her, not just in her incredible voice and guitar playing but in all things related to her general presence. There’s a fantastic video online that demonstrates this fact, of her playing this very song recorded in 1964 at the Wilbraham Road railway station in Manchester. The showmanship is fantastic, and the music is pretty amazing to boot: I’d say that seeing one of her performances live must have been some kind of experience. This song is about the story of Noah’s Ark, which was by anyone’s standards a metaphor for a catastrophic ecological disaster, but her rendition of it is so upbeat I can’t even bring myself to be sad about the fact that humanity has apparently learnt no major lessons from its warning. This song (and her life in general, really), are of note not just because of the musical history on display, but also because of the legacy of cultural and social history to boot, which everyone should take it upon themselves to learn more about, lest you be judged poorly by it. No-one else is going to learn it for you.

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