When we've been there ten thousand years.
July 24, 2009 6:32 AM   Subscribe

Hymn 41 Harmony Grove New Britain Claremont Arlington Amazing Grace. The timeline links to a nice variety of recordings, traditional (1939: Mary Shipp; 1941: Shiloh Baptist Church) and otherwise (1975: The Amazing Rhythm Aces; 1992: The Lemonheads).

Found these looking for recordings by Rosetta Tharpe, and figured they deserved their own post. But for those just tuning in, this barely scratches the surface of the audio available on the LoC website — see this incredible old y2karl post for a whole lot more.
posted by nebulawindphone (27 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Bleh. That first link shoulda been to the front page, which'll take you to a few historical essays and such. How 'bout you forget I did that and I make it up to you with some Golden Gate Quartet?
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:39 AM on July 24, 2009

My favorite version of Amazing Grace is the Blind Boys of Alabama's "House of the Rising Sun" injected version.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:45 AM on July 24, 2009 [4 favorites]

Thanks, nebulawindphone.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:50 AM on July 24, 2009


Western Mass Style (with banjo and throat singing)
Sacred Harp Style* (mp3)
Choctaw Style (mp3)

*Can't seem to find a recording of the crazier arrangement, Jewett (score here).
posted by The White Hat at 7:02 AM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

I thought you meant Mass as in, you know, Catholic, and I was wondering when they took up throat singing. Tim Eriksen rocks my world.

There's an odd, not very sacred-harp-y Jewett on the LoC site. (Check out that corny harmonium playing! I think it's adorable, but it's probably not for everyone.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:08 AM on July 24, 2009

Omigod I just got to the end of that video. Throat singing through the banjo resonator! What a phenomenal noise! Yes, thanks White Hat.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:10 AM on July 24, 2009

House of the Rising Sun version? Sweet. Previously, my favorite versions all had bagpipes in 'em, but I may have to change my mind... especially if Eric Burdon's doing it. Heh.

There is... a House... in N'awleans
with Amaaaaaaziiiing graaaaace; how sweet the sound

posted by LD Feral at 7:14 AM on July 24, 2009

Try singing the words of Amazing Grace to the tune of the theme from Gilligan's Island. It works really well.
posted by dogwelder at 7:18 AM on July 24, 2009

Pretty much anything written in that specific "ballad meter" can be sung to the Gilligan's Island theme. It also works with "The Yellow Rose of Texas." Emily Dickinson wrote most of her poems in the same rhythm and "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" is a fun one to sing to either song.
posted by Neofelis at 7:25 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

nebulawindphone: "There's an odd, not very sacred-harp-y Jewett on the LoC site."

You're very right. My group sings all five verses of Jewett in about two minutes, starting at about 120bpm and kicking it up to around 170 after the second verse. When my friend leads it, he smacks the book to mark tempo changes.
posted by The White Hat at 7:26 AM on July 24, 2009

Try singing the words of Amazing Grace to the tune of the theme from Gilligan's Island. It works really well.

Amazing Grace has always been one of my faves, but for the music, not the words. So maybe I should reverse that. Here, play this instrumental and sing along at home.

Just sit right back and hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.

The mate was a mighty sailing man,
The skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day
For a three hour tour.

The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The minnow would be lost.
posted by DU at 7:31 AM on July 24, 2009

I made my aunties cry when I played "Amazing Grace" on my ukulele.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:37 AM on July 24, 2009

Amazing Grace (2006 film).
posted by ericb at 7:39 AM on July 24, 2009

I personally prefer Hymn 43
posted by Gungho at 7:40 AM on July 24, 2009

I made my aunties cry when I played "Amazing Grace" on my ukulele.

Like this?
posted by ericb at 7:45 AM on July 24, 2009

I heard the Lemonheads take on Amazing Grace in college, meaning that they must have recorded some version of it before 1990.
posted by Mister_A at 7:48 AM on July 24, 2009

DU - actually, that's how my brother and I started the switch. It sounds great in harmony!
posted by dogwelder at 7:54 AM on July 24, 2009

I've been collecting versions of AG for several years but hadn't gotten to the Lemonheads version, so thanks! I did a compilation CD a while back when I led a UU church service about the hymn and its meanings. Highlights: Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Ani DiFranco, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Tori Amos and Dropkick Murphys.

I've been talking for ages about doing a second one (my mind was pretty much made up on that when I found out that Jerry Garcia had done a version), but I was so annoyed when the Hartford Public Library didn't have the version by Ike & Tina Turner that it purported to have, and I haven't been able to find it anywhere else. (Wouldn't that just stall ANYBODY?)

This book is a great resource--has a list of hundreds of extant recordings in the back.

(In case you didn't already figure out that I'm kind of a freak about this song, I should say that my wedding ring has the music engraved on it. Sentimental stuff for a fairly hard-core atheist, but some things are sacred.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:58 AM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

That's odd. Yes, it looks like the Lemonheads version is from an album released in 87. I'm not sure why this site lists it as 92.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:17 AM on July 24, 2009

I've always like these versions by the Dropkick Murphys: 1, 2, 3
posted by iamkimiam at 9:32 AM on July 24, 2009

Earlier this year I took a continuing ed class in Anglo-American Sacred Music, which included a performance by the students at the end of the quarter. The class was taught by Marsha Genensky of Anonymous 4. They have two Early American Sacred song albums out, and she had arranged most of the songs on them.

We structured the concert around Amazing Grace, singing either the words or a slightly familiar tune in each style (psalm tunes, fuguing tunes, folk hymns, revival hymns, and gospel hymns). I loved learning the history of Amazing Grace. The words, written by John Newton, are in "Common Meter" which is, as its name implies, able to be interchanged with any number of common tunes with that meter.

I really love Jewett; it's a revival tune, and you can just imagine huge crowds of people at a tent revival singing and *actually* shouting for glory. If you want to hear something that's more like what it might actually sound like in a shape note setting, I've uploaded our performance here (sendspace download of an mp3).
posted by sarahnade at 9:42 AM on July 24, 2009

Good to see Tim Eriksen linked here. He is doubly great, for his sacred harp stuff and his punk/folk/misc. group Cordelia's Dad.
posted by rodii at 10:11 AM on July 24, 2009

An interesting version from Krishna Das (and Sting) tacked onto his song, "Mountain Hare Krishna." The work starts at about 5:19 into this link.
posted by FrankBlack at 10:56 AM on July 24, 2009

THank you, thank you, all tributes gracefully gratefully accepted
posted by Cranberry at 12:03 PM on July 24, 2009

No Aretha???!! C'mon, now!

Unfortunately, this was the only visual I could find, and it's hard to find a full track to listen to online.
posted by droplet at 1:50 PM on July 24, 2009

"Amazing Grace" is the "Danny Boy" of hymns.
posted by Faze at 2:35 PM on July 24, 2009

You may want to check out this radio documentary (thank you CBC) about Amazing Grace
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 6:07 PM on July 24, 2009

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