You'll Need Somebody on Your Bond

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"You'll Need Somebody on Your Bond"
Single by Blind Willie Johnson
B-side "Bye and Bye I'm Goin' to See the King"
Released 1930 (1930)
Format 10" 78 rpm record
Recorded New Orleans, Louisiana, December 11, 1929
Genre Gospel blues
Length 3:05
Label Columbia (no. 14504)

"You'll Need Somebody on Your Bond" (later titled "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond") is a gospel song that is attributed to both tradition and to gospel blues musician Blind Willie Johnson. Johnson recorded the first version of the song[1] for Columbia Records as "You'll Need Somebody on Your Bond" on December 11, 1929, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He later recorded a second version titled "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond" on April 20, 1930, in Atlanta, Georgia, which was Johnson's last recorded song.[2] Over the years, several other musicians have recorded renditions of the song.

Blind Willie John songs[edit]

As with many of Blind Willie Johnson's songs, "You'll Need Somebody on Your Bond" is performed with Johnson on lead vocals and slide guitar and an unknown female singer accompanying him on vocals. While it was first believed that his wife Angeline Johnson provided those backing vocals, it has since been refuted by Johnson's lead biographer. The second version, titled "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond" is nearly identical to the first, with slightly more subdued vocals and backing vocal provided by Willie B. Harris, sometimes considered to be Johnson's first wife.[2]

The subject of "You'll Need Somebody on Your Bond" is "the idea that we will all need a legally binding guarantee to gain access to heaven" and that Jesus as our advocate "will provide us with a guarantee or bond, if we follow His ways".[3] Johnson sang the song on the streets of towns in Texas as both entertainment and a calling to adhere to the teachings of Jesus.

Buffy Sainte-Marie version[edit]

In 1964, Buffy Sainte-Marie recorded "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond" with slightly altered lyrics and included the song on her debut album, It's My Way!. While her debut album did not chart, it proved influential to both the American and British folk communities. Sainte-Marie recorded the song on acoustic guitar without using a slide and sang without any backup vocals.

Donovan version[edit]

"You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond"
Single by Donovan
from the album What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid
B-side "The Little Tin Soldier"
Released November 1965 (1965-11) (US)
Format 7" 45 rpm record
Recorded 1965
Genre Folk
Length 4:04
Label Hickory (45-1375)
Producer(s) Terry Kennedy, Peter Eden, Geoff Stephens
Donovan USA singles chronology
"Universal Soldier"
"You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond"
"To Try for the Sun"

Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan recorded "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond" in early 1965 for inclusion on his debut album What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid. Since Donovan recorded a version of "Universal Soldier" after hearing it on Buffy Sainte-Marie's debut album, it is likely that he first heard "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond" from the same source. Hickory Records released "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond" backed with a cover of "The Little Tin Soldier" by Shawn Phillips in November 1965 (Hickory 45-1375), but it did not appear in the single charts.

Other recordings[edit]

Captain Beefheart frequently included "You'll Need Somebody On Your Bond" in the set list of his early shows. In addition, he drew on the song for "Tarotplane", the opening track of his 1971-released album, Mirror Man. Taj Mahal covered "You're Gonna Need Someone On Your Bond" on his 1969 album Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home. The Drones covered the song under the title "Someone On Your Bond", which was included on The Miller's Daughter, a 2005 collection of outtakes.


  1. ^ Charley Patton recorded a similar "You're Gonna Need Somebody When You Die" in October 1929.
  2. ^ a b Charters, Samuel (1993). The Complete Blind Willie Johnson (CD booklet). Blind Willie Johnson. Columbia/Legacy. pp. 22, 25–26. C2K 52835. 
  3. ^ Blakey, D. N. (2007). Revelation: Blind Willie Johnson The Biography. DNB45 Publishing. p. 164. ISBN 978-1-4303-2899-5.