“Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”
» download (mp3, 3:22)
Andy Dayton, Associate Web Producer
I’ve had this song in my head all week. It’s the late Joe Carter’s rendition of “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” recorded during Krista’s conversation with Carter in 2003:
One of the stories I seem to remember that she told, it was about — Emancipation Day had come. And there was a group of former slaves now on an island off the coast of South Carolina. And my parents were from South Carolina, all my family. And they were waiting for the emissary of the government to arrive in his little boat to tell them that they had received the deeds to their land, because the government had promised them not only freedom, but 40 acres and a mule.
And so this was going to be a great, wonderful day. And the former slaves had gathered together on the island waiting with bated breath. And finally, they saw the boat of the officer approaching. And they could tell, even from the distance, that his face was not happy and his countenance was somewhat sad. And they said there was a groan that just came from the crowd. And one of the older women from the crowd just stood up and began to make up a song on the spot. She sang, (singing) “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows but Jesus. Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Glory, hallelujah.”
And then she spoke, looking to the people around her, she said, (singing) “Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down. Oh, yes, Lord. Sometimes, I’m almost level to the ground. Oh, yes, Lord. Oh, nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows but Jesus. Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Glory, hallelujah.”
She looked at the people standing by, and she said, (singing) “Although you see me going along so.” And they answered, (singing) “Oh, yes, Lord.” “I’ve got my trials here below.” And they answered, (singing) “Oh, yes, Lord. Oh, nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows but Jesus. Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Glory, hallelujah.”
You can now find mp3s of all of the songs performed by Carter on the Listening Room page for this program. Have a listen, download, and enjoy.
Les Freres de St Francis de la Sissies — Hallelujah!
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor
A noted historian and friend of the show recently forwarded this comedic performance to the SOF e-mail inbox. It’s refreshing to see that even the most serious and wisest of public intellectuals has a good sense of humor — and isn’t afraid to share it. Enjoy.
Going to “Church”
Andy Dayton, Associate Web Producer
While much of the SOF staff was in D.C. last Thursday for Krista’s conversation with E.J. Dionne and David Brooks, a few of us went to “Church” at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The “Church” I’m referring to is a performance of experimental playwright Young Jean Lee’s play, which the New York Times’ Jason Zinoman described as “an unorthodox contemporary worship service, complete with sermon, praise dancing and a gospel choir.”
It was definitely an engaging experience — at times funny, thought-provoking, stirring, even just confusing. Lee’s parents were converted evangelical Christians, but Lee struggled with her parents’ faith: “I was not a religious person. I resisted and fought through my entire childhood and adolescence.” Writing “Church” was a challenge to herself to create “the last show in the world that [I] would ever want to make,” and what resulted was an ambiguous adaptation of a church service — one that refused to be completely earnest or ironic, but fluctuated somewhere in between.
After seeing the performance, Nancy — who’s been filling in for Colleen during her maternity leave — tracked down this conversation between the creator of “Church” and playwright/director Lear Debessonet. The two women touched on how Christianity is often encountered in contemporary theater:
Ms. Lee: Most of what I’ve seen up until this point has been critiques and making fun. Christians are just not taken seriously at all, which is what my show came out of. But I have a feeling there’s going to be a big wave of theatrical stuff dealing with evangelical Christians over the next year.
Ms. Debessonet: I think the downtown artistic community is realizing we don’t really have the option of dismissing [evangelical Christianity] anymore. This is a force in our world. There are so many millions of people that do believe this, and for us not to even attempt to engage them or understand what’s driving them seems irresponsible artistically.