The fight for freedom: “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho”
My old friend Eddy told me last Friday in the local bar how he won “the battle of Jericho” against the local water company in a lawsuit. The local water company had
threatened him for a few months with bills, but he fought back. They claimed they would close the water connection to his house down, again he fought back. He wrote the courthouse a few times and this last Friday he told me while drinking a couple of beers that he won the lawsuit in style.
His adventure at the courthouse reminded me of the gospelblues song “Jericho”. Although it is not to be compared with the struggle for freedom many of the “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho” singers had back in the day, for Eddy it felt just like that.
The traditional “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho” was recorded by the greatest in Rock ‘n Roll, Blues and Gospel. A favorite version of “Jericho” was difficult to find because the list of “Jericho” singers contains artist like Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Hugh Laurie and they all made a masterpiece of this classic blues song in a different era.
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
And the walls come tumblin’ down, that mornin’
Roots of The Battle of Jericho
The lyrics allude to the biblical story of the Battle of Jericho, in which Joshua led the Israelitesagainst Canaan (Joshua6:15-21). However, like those of many other spirituals, the words may also be alluding to eventual escape from slavery – in the case of this song, “And the walls came tumblin’ down.” The lively melody and rhythm also provided energy and inspiration. (Wikipedia Jericho)
In the Blues and Gospel tradition “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho is a well-known African-American spiritual and believed to have been composed by slaves in the first half of the 19th century. Even today this song is heard in churches around the world every sonday.
When I told my friend Eddy about Jericho, he remembered the version of Mahalia Jackson. She was a stateful woman and one of the best Gospel singer around. The most beautiful Mahalia version of this song, was her performance as she appeared in 1957 singing on the Nat King Cole show.
Fit The Battle Of Jericho-Mahalia Jackson
Elvis Presley Cover of Jericho
Elvis Presley recorded “Jericho ” on october 30, at the RCA studio in Memphis. It was first released on “His Hand In Mine” album later that year. Presley’s voice is great in this song while the backgound singers bring a great melancholy to the song.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe cover and Bluesy Remix
You should also listen tot Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing “Jericho”. I’ll bet she would still make a hit record out of “Jericho” today and that must have been the reason for French DJ duo C2C to cover and remix this blues song in 2013. C2C used a killerbeat to accentuate the hip hop groove in Sister Rosetta’ singing.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Jericho
Sister Rosetta Tharpe Jericho (C2C Remix)
The most bluesy version is made by British musician and actor Hugh Laurie who turned it into a slightly New Orleans blues song. Of all songs on this page Laurie turned it into the slowest version.
Credit feature picture:By Dave Brinkman (ANEFO) (GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL)) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Carl Van Vechten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Library congress LC-USZ62-91314