From mountains with Mahalia Jackson and the rain from Rosetta Tharpe and Ray Charles, we turn to similar heights with the great gospel singing group that has been going since 1939 and a songwriter also from Alabama. The Blind Boys, founded by members that included Clarence Fountain and Jimmy Carter (that latter the only original left), all from the same school chorus, and four of them blind singers alongside four other musicians, their performances have influenced countless others, including the three previous stars highlighted here, as well as Marvin Gaye and more. Clarence Fountain takes the lead on this number, taken from the DVD collection, How Sweet It Was, featuring many great performances of gospel artists from the 1940s to the 60s. Clarence's screams, interspersed with the deep, rich wails and wallops of the other singers are a prime example of their emotional power. The song was originally written by Professor Alex Bradford in 1954, another of the great Alabama gospel writers and performers, who in turn influenced the likes of Little Richard, Bob Marley and Ray Charles. So the original is also a treat, a crossover as much with soul as gospel with it slow, easy pace, – and listen out for the surprise high note.
I'm too close to my journey's end,
I'm too close to turn back to a world of sin,
I would take nothing for my journey right now,
I've gotta make it to heaven somehow.
I'm too close to my goal,
I'm too close to saving my soul.
I'm too close to heaven,
(And I can't) turn around, turn around.
I'm too close, I can almost see God's face,
I'm too close and I'll tell the world I love His grace.
I'm so close because He's holding my hand,
and I know He will lead me to the promise land.
I'm too close, I wanna see my mother again,
I'm too close, shaking hands with all my friends.
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