Thursday, November 11, 2010

"I'll Be Rested (When The Roll Is Called)" - Roosevelt Graves and Brother



Set Four: The "Lost" Volume; Disc Two; Track Nine: "I'll Be Rested (When The Roll Is Called)" performed by Roosevelt Graves and Brother. Recorded in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on July 7, 1936.

Roosevelt Graves was born in Meridian, Mississippi on December 9, 1909. Other than the fact that he was blind, nothing is known of his life before he began recording. Graves played guitar and usually performed with his brother, Uaroy, who played tambourine and is widely considered to be one of the greatest tambourine players of all time. If little is known of Roosevelt Graves, absolutely nothing is known of his brother. There is no recorded birth or death date for Uaroy Graves. Until recently, even Uaroy's name was in dispute. He has often been miscredited as either "Aaron" or "Leroy" (in fact, he is credited as "Aaron" in Dick Spottswood's notes) on the assumption that "Uaroy" must have been a transcription error or a typo. In 2004, some Paramount Records documents were scanned and posted on the internet (sadly, I cannot find an active link) which clearly showed that Graves' brother was, indeed, named "Uaroy." Uaroy was partially sighted and served as a guide for his blind brother.

The Graves brothers made their first recordings for Paramount Records in 1929. A second session was recorded in July of 1936 through the agency of H.C. Speir. Some histories have this session taking place in a train station, although Speir reported to blues researcher Gayle Dean Wardlow that the session, in fact, took place in the Hotel Hattiesburg. Although only Graves and his brother appear on this recording, several other recordings were made during this session under the name The Mississippi Jook Band which included pianist Cooney Vaughn.

The Graves brothers did not record again. Roosevelt Graves died in Summerland, Mississippi on December 30, 1962. Uaroy's death date is unknown.

"I'll Be Rested (When The Roll Is Called)" is a spiritual that celebrates the life to come. It is the second of two religious songs in a row.

I'll be rested when the roll is called.
I'll be rested when the roll is called.
I'll be rested in the Kingdom of Heaven,
I'll be rested when the roll is called.

No more shoutin' when the roll is called.
No more shoutin' when the roll is called.
I'll be rested in the Kingdom of Heaven,
I'll be rested when the roll is called.

No more sorrows when the roll is called.
No more sorrows when the roll is called.
I'll be rested in the Kingdom of Heaven,
I'll be rested when the roll is called.

Meet my mother when the roll is called.
Meet my mother when the roll is called.
I'll be rested in the Kingdom of Heaven,
I'll be rested when the roll is called.

I'll be rested when the roll is called.
I'll be rested when the roll is called.
I'll be rested in the Kingdom of Heaven,
I'll be rested when the roll is called.

Meet my elders when the roll is called.
Meet my elders when the roll is called.
Meet my elders in the Kingdom of Heaven,
Meet my elders when the roll is called.


A simple, repetitive song, "I'll Be Rested" is as spirited and uplifting as "No Depression In Heaven" is downbeat. Graves and his brother perform the song with vigor, particularly Uaroy, whose tambourine sets an irresistible rhythm. Both brothers sing, with Uaroy's bass vocal employing a technique that sounds similar to the Kargyraa style of Tuvan throat singing. The brothers alternate unison and harmony vocals, with Uaroy occasionally interjecting asides such as "My lord" or "yes sir."

Some observers have noted how the heavily rhythmic nature of this recording seems to point forward towards rock and roll, with some hyperbolicly declaring "I'll Be Rested" to be the first rock and roll record. While it may not really be the first rock and roll record, it certainly does seem to point forward stylistically, which is in keeping with the tone of this set.

It is impossible for words to do justice to the simple brilliance of this recording. You have to hear it to believe it.

"I'll Be Rested (When The Roll Is Called)" is probably the most popular recording by Roosevelt and Uaroy Graves. It has been anthologized numerous times and can be heard on Dust-to-Digital's excellent Goodbye Babylon set. The song also appears on Revanant Records collection American Primitive, Vol I. The song has also been covered several times by such artists as Mavis Staples and the Nashville Bluegrass Band.

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Here's a bluegrass version of "I'll Be Rested (When The Roll Is Called)" performed by bluegrassgod. Not sure if that's the name of the group or if one member posts in YouTube under that name.



Here's a lovely solo guitar version performed by jessewva.



Download and listen to Roosevelt Graves and Brother - "I'll Be Rested (When The Roll Is Called)"

2 comments:

  1. I enjoy your posts so much. Thank you for all of the work that you've done on the Anthology and for sharing the music. Marie

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  2. I'm glad to hear that you've enjoyed the blog. When I started it a little over a year ago, I couldn't have imagined that it would reach so many people. It is a tribute to the lasting impact of the Anthology and to the wonderful music of America.

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