Thursday, January 24, 2008

Song of the Week: Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us

The song I've had going through my head quite a bit lately is a haunting melody of lost love called "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," by Leslie Ann Phillips, a.k.a. Sam Phillips. I first heard it sung by Alison Krauss with background vocals by Robert Plant on the album Raising Sand. Phillips' recording can currently be heard on the somewhat haphazard player located on the bottom right corner of her website here. (You might have to hit the fast-forward button a few times and refresh to get past the song "Signal," which is lovely in its own right--but I digress.) Otherwise, you can hear the version by Krauss here-- just click on the "Listen to the Album" link at the top left of the page.

The "Sister Rosetta" of the song is, of course, the gospel singer and guitarist "Sister Rosetta" Tharpe. Jules of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast recently posted a video of Sister Rosetta singing and playing "Up Above My Head," the song that clearly inspired some of Phillips' lyrics.

Here are the lyrics and chords:

Click on the image to enlarge it

The chords provided are transcribed by my guitar teacher. Lyrics and chords are provided purely for the purposes of study and research.

Updated on 01/30/07 to reflect a chord correction.
Updated on 06/14/08 to reflect a lyric correction.


SevenImpossible said...

It's actually "the finder's lost" -- not "love."

And it's "tonight she's my guide as I go on alone . . ."

Oh, and "echoes of light that shine like stars after they're gone" . . .

Yay! Sam couldn't have a bigger fan in me. And this song is so perfect.

Jules, 7-Imp

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Thanks, Jules! I've made the corrections. Though I've got to say, "girl on the moon" is an excellent mondegreen for "go on alone."

SevenImpossible said...

I do like that girl on the moon bit, Alkelda.

I hope I didn't come across as pedantic. I'm just the world's nerdiest Sam fan, so my corrections were enthusiastic and well-intentioned. I was not wagging a cyber-finger in your face, in other words.

Also, for the record, I have the lyrics from the "Raising Sand" CD -- that's how I know what they are. Otherwise, I'd probably strain in spots myself.

I can't wait 'til you hear "The Fan Dance" (the song and the entire CD). Those lyrics totally baffle but beguile me, and I have always wanted to get others' thoughts on them.

Jules, 7-Imp

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Jules: I asked you to check the lyrics for errors. You weren't pedantic at all. I downloaded the album and didn't buy it in the store, so I was at a disadvantage. All the other lyrics sites had the same errors, which was too bad. I look forward to "Fan Dance!" Thanks again.

GraceAnne LadyHawk said...

I am currently quite obsessed with the Robert Plant/Allison Krauss album. Much of it is gorgeous, and nearly all of it is mesmerizing.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Graceanne: I agree. I would surely like to see Plant and Krauss when they go on tour. I'll be watching for tickets like a hawk... a ladyhawk!:)