Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us

Album: Don't Do Anything (2008)


  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the inspiration for this song, was an influential guitarist and singer of the '30s and '40s who turned the gospel genre on its head with her infusion of blues and jazz with traditional spiritual music. Some of her notable hits were "This Train," "Down By the Riverside" and "Strange Things Happening Every Day." The latter influenced the lyrics of Sam Phillips' song, as she explained in her Songfacts interview:

    "'Up above my head, I hear music in the air, there's strange things happening every day.' I was using her to talk about the things that we can't see that happen all around us - the inspiration, the good things that happen to us all the time, and where do those things come from? I think through music and art is how we get to ecstatic experiences. There are other ways, too, but I think for us the familiar ways are through music and art."
  • Although Phillips penned the song, it was recorded by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss for their Raising Sand album in 2007, a year before Phillips' own version was released (the Plant/Krauss collaboration also won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year). As Phillips tells it, she had a conversation with Plant where he told her that Sister Rosetta Tharpe once asked him - in his pre-Zeppelin days - to join her on tour.


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