In 2003, John Clarke in The Times wrote that “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” was “the most intense and startling blues record ever made”. Francis Davis, author of The History of the Blues concurs, writing “In terms of its intensity alone—its spiritual ache—there is nothing else from the period to compare to Johnson’s ‘Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground’, on which his guitar takes the part of a preacher and his wordless voice the part of a rapt congregation.”
Blind Willie Johnson In Space: one of the several recordings included on ‘The Golden Record’, the album attached and continually playing on the Voyager One unmanned spacecraft launched in the ’70s.
Carl Sagan, who was involved in the musical selections, said this song encapsulates the essence of human loneliness that mankind seldom faces. it is haunting, but when music becomes ‘art’ i always find it extremely uplifting (which is often the case with true music in the blues tradition / the proper perspective of the oppressed looking out instead of the privileged looking in).