Music/Lyrics: Reverend J.K. Alwood
Vocals: Phish, N. Young, W. Nelson, P. Shaffer, Native American
Original Artist: The Staples Singers
Historian: Ellis Godard
Roebuck "Pops" Staples was working in a meat packing plant when he started singing in quartets during World War II. Soon after the war, he organized his children into their own quartet, The Staples Singers, which became quickly successful on the Northern Illinois church circuit. Their ship came in under contract to Vee-Jay Records with their second release, “Uncloudy Day.” They later recorded other religious favorites such as “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” but gradually moved from more traditional gospel to arrangements that incorporated blues, before losing gospel altogether and trying to forge their own blend.
Phish mimicked that history a bit with their sole performance of both of these songs, at Farm Aid. The event was organized by Willie Nelson, who also started singing during World War II, and who himself moved from traditional country to an Americana blend of hippie/redneck soul. Farm Aid (and Phish’s set) culminated with two quartets (Phish and four Native American singers), plus Neil Young, Willie Nelson, and Paul Schaffer.