Blues Lyrics of the Week (Remembering Pinetop): Take My Hand, Precious Lord

Earlier this week, we told you about the passing of legendary blues pianist Pinetop Perkins.

Having begun his career playing with the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk, B.B. King, and Earl Hooker, Perkins spent a dozen years tickling the ivories for the Muddy Waters Band after replacing Otis Spann in that role in 1969. A founding member of the Legendary Blues Band, Pinetop also enjoyed much success as a solo artist, earning a 2005 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award and, two years later, his first Grammy award (Best Traditional Blues Album) for Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen, a collection of songs with David Honeyboy Edwards, Henry Townsend, and Robert Lockwood Jr. He was the recipient of numerous Blues Music Awards on piano before being retired from the running and having the award named in his honor a few years back.

Last month, Perkins recieved another Grammy award – making him the oldest Grammy winner ever – for his 2010 Joined at the Hip with former Muddy Waters Band and Legendary Blues Band mate Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. We can’t think of a more appropriate way to bid Pinetop farewell than the lyrics to his adaptation of this gospel standard, which in addition to being one of only two tracks on the album to feature Perkins on lead vocals, fittingly ends with a playful “Jingle Bells,” then “Shave and a Haircut,” melody, both of which you could always count on hearing from Pinetop during his live shows, though usually not in the same song.

“Take my hand, precious Lord,
lead me on to the Promised Land.
Take my hand, precious Lord,
lead me on to the Promised Land.
I’m doin’ the best I can,
think you’ll always still be my friend.

Prayed last night,
and all the night before.
Prayed last night,
that’s right, all the night before.
Now if the good Lord listen to me,
swear I won’t have to cry no more.”
– Take My Hand, Precious Lord, Thomas A. Dorsey

Perkins may not be crying any more, but a whole world of blues fans is as a result of his passing. R.I.P., old friend.

There’s no video to this one, just a still pic of Perkins (in front) and Smith over their rendition of the song:

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