by Claude Chaney
Another small step towards the completion of the twelve song upcoming Claude Chaney and Friends CD "You're In My Heart" came to fruition yesterday when "I Told Jesus" became the second song completed. This came about due to the painstaking work of arranger Perry Montauredes. How this song became part of the CD is somewhat of a mystery. I first heard the song way back in the late sixties done by Roberta Flack on her very first album "First Take". Roberta Flack at that time was influenced by another one of my favorites the late Nina Simone who also did this song.
After going over the lyrics of the song many many times I kept asking myself what is this song about. I listened to every version I could find. Besides Roberta Flack, Jennifer Bynum, Irma Gwynn and Nina Simone the late Stanley Turrentine did a poignant instrumental of this song with his booming sax. It is my intention to do at least one religious song on all of my CDs. Thus far I have recorded "Good Morning Dear Lord" and "Lean On Him Always". I know that the song has origins that go back to slavery in the United States based on what I have seen on the internet but what is the connection? It has been called a "Negro Spiritual".
One of the strange things I found is that all versions of the song are done by females, so maybe this is a song I should not be doing. But, if I told audiences and indicated on the CD that this song was a story that was told by a woman then I shouldn't have any problem. This is what Sam Cooke did on "Touch The Hem Of His Garment"
Why did I decide to record this song? .....well my friend and fellow church member William G. McCleod (a great gospel singer) made it possible for me to perform at Stapleton's Restaurant in Raritan, New Jersey as part of the "Gospel In The Afternoon" program for January 18, 2015. I thought this song would be a good selection for that program since the other songs I chose were
fast and upbeat this slow song would make a good contrast. I called my guitarist Joaquin Maria and told him to watch the Roberta Flack version on You Tube and that I wanted him to play it for the January 18, 2014 showcase. I called my friend, music teacher and studio arranger Perry Montauredes and told him I would need a track for the January 18, 2014 gig. I was so excited that I told him I would also like to record it for a CD. Fate would have it that one of the performers scheduled to appear at Stapleton's on November 14, 2014 "Gospel In The Afternoon" program would not appear. William McCleod asked me to perform in place of the scheduled artist. I did perform on November 14, 2014 but I could not do "I Told Jesus" because there just wasn't enough time. Whoever I replaced on November 14, 2014 will be replacing me on January 18, 2015. (As a result I have to inform all of my friends who made plans to come to see me that I will not be on the program.)
So I had to tell Joaquin we would have to put this particular project on "hold" to be continued at some indefinite time in the future as far as live performances are concerned, but I still wanted to record the song for a CD.
My interpretation of the lyrics may be completely wrong, but to me it appears as if it is a testimony of a woman who is seriously considering becoming a nun, thus "change my name". In the song Jesus says"The world will turn away from you if I change your name" to me Jesus is telling her "You will have to abandon the "ways of the world", "Your father, your mother, your sister and your brother won't know you as a bride of Christ" Christ is asking her if she is willing to make that sacrifice, to which she confidently replies yes. The song with lyrics I don't fully understand has stayed in my head for 45 years. For me recording this song was a labor of love. I thank Perry Montauredes for the extra time he spent making my version a reality. This song is over six minutes long. I wonder how the public will react to it. I wonder if I will be able the give this song the exposure I feel it rightfully deserves....only time will tell.