JOHN THE REVELATOR

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs

JOHN THE REVELATOR

“John the Revelator” is a traditional Gospel/blues call and response song. In the chorus,
John of Patmos, the traditional author of the Book of Revelation, is writing “the book of
the seven seals.” In Christian tradition, John of Patmos is generally considered the same
person as John the Apostle and John the Evangelist.
The song was recorded in 1930 by Blind Willie Johnson and is included in the Anthology
of American Folk Music. In this version Johnson’s first wife Willie B Harris performs the
response parts of the song. The Golden Gate Quartet performed and recorded the song a
cappella in the 1930s. Son House recorded several a cappella versions in the 1960s.
The song has been covered by numerous bands and musicians, including The Blues
Brothers, Beck, Billy Childish, John Mellencamp, Gov’t Mule, The Dirty Dozen Brass
Band, R.E.M., Frank Black, The White Stripes, Ian Siegal, Phil Keaggy and many others.
Similarly titled songs by Depeche Mode and Dave Matthews Band were inspired by the
traditional gospel song. The movie Blues Brothers 2000, in which the song is covered by
both Taj Mahal and Sam Moore, also includes an additional verse written for the movie
and performed by Joe Morton.
[call] Well who’s that writin’? [response] John the Revelator
Who’s that writin’? John the Revelator
Who’s that writin’? John the Revelator
A book of the seven seals
[
[call] Tell me what’s John writin’? [respons e] Ask the Revelator
What’s John writin’? Ask the Revelator
What’s John writin’? Ask the Revelator
A book of the seven seals
Well ooh ooh why me, thousands cried holy
Bound for some, Son of our God
Daughter of Zion, Judah the Lion
He redeemeth, and bought us with his blood
[Repeat verses 1 & 2]
John the Revelator, great advocator
Get’s ’em on the battle of Zion
Lord, tellin’ the story, risin’ in glory
Cried, “Lord, don’t you love some I”
[Repeat verses 1 & 2]
Well Moses to Moses, watchin’ the flock
Saw the bush where they had to stop
God told Moses, “Pull off your shoes”