For a bunch of Irishmen, U2 has always been capable of throwing down a pretty darn soulful gospel jaunt in my book. Rattle and Hum is one of my favorite U2 eras (along with Achtung Baby. And maybe, oddly, Pop. I like Pop).
My friend John just brought this 20-year-old U2 cover of Woody Guthrie’s “Jesus Christ” to my attention, an mp3 I had in my iTunes library but had let settle to the bottom of the unlistened pile. Today is a grey and drizzly Saturday in Colorado, after a very long and difficult week, and this bit of handclapping, foot-stomping folk gospel is just the right medicine.
U2 originally recorded this in 1988 for the Woody Guthrie tribute album Folkways: A Vision Shared along with a pretty formidable collection of other artists. If this jubilant cut sounds reminiscent of Rattle and Hum, it’s for good reason — it was recorded during the same sessions.
The vinyl single of “Jesus Christ” was released as a promotional single in the Netherlands only.
The original Woody Guthrie recording of this song was first captured on tape as part of the 1940 Library of Congress Recordings by Alan Lomax — the first recordings of Woody Guthrie ever, that I am aware of. When I was trawling around in the Library of Congress audio archives last May (talkin’ to rad people) I remember seeing these in the American Folklife Listening Room. I could have gotten permanently lost there, happily.
Jesus Christ (ripped from vinyl) – Woody Guthrie
[release info via U2wanderer]