Ain't No Grave
Claude Ely, a songwriter and preacher from Virginia, describes composing the song while sick with tuberculosis in 1934 when he was twelve years old. His family prayed for his health, and in response he spontaneously performed this song. Originally recorded by Bozie Sturdivant in July 1942 (and released in 1943 as "Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down") in a slower, African American gospel style and in 1946-7 by Sister Rosetta Tharpe with barrelhouse piano; the song in Ely's version was recorded in 1953.
Artists covering the song
Many notable artists have performed the song. The slower, black gospel melody was used by Tharpe into the 1960s, and covered by folksinger Rolf Cahn, and gospel artist Liz McComb. In 1967, the song was featured in the film Cool Hand Luke while Luke (Paul Newman) is digging a grave, performed by Harry Dean Stanton. The lines "Meet me, Jesus, meet me / Won't you meet me in the middle of the air / And if my wings should fail me, Lord / Won't you provide me with another pair" in some recorded versions (including the one by Johnny Cash) are shared with some recorded versions of the traditional song "In My Time of Dying" (including those by Bob Dylan and by Led Zeppelin).
In 1980, The Singing Cookes recorded the song on the album Live.
In 1985, The Nelons recorded the song on the album In One Accord.
in 1986, Janet Paschal recorded the song on the album Live!
In 1989, Russ Taff covered the song on the album The Way Home and also as an extended version on the 1991 album Under Their Influence.
In 2017, bluegrass artists Wilson Banjo Co. recorded "Ain't No Grave" on their album Spirits in the Hills.
In 2017, a cover of the song by Hidden Citizens appears in the trailer for the film Aftermath. That same year, a version of the song performed by Bror Gunnar Jansson was used over the end credits of the first episode of Damnation.
In 2018, the song was used as the end credits song for the final episode of the first season of Altered Carbon.
Johnny Cash cover
Johnny Cash covered "Ain't No Grave" shortly before his death in September 2003. The recording was not released until February 9, 2010, as part of a posthumous album titled American VI: Ain't No Grave.
In 2017, Cash's version was featured in the second trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and in the BBC documentary The Scottish Bounty Hunter about bounty hunter Christian Matlock.
- "Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Complete Recorded Works, Vol 3 1946-1947, track 21". all music.com. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
- Radio Diaries (5 May 2011). "A Nephew's Quest: Who Was Brother Claude Ely?". National Public Radio. https://www.npr.org/2011/05/05/136019632/a-nephews-quest-who-was-brother-claude-ely. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
- "Cool Hand Luke (1967) - Soundtrack". IMDB. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- "The Apostle (1997) - Soundtrack". IMDB. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- "Aftermath Trailer (2017)". Trailer Addict. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- "There Ain't No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down)". Apple Music. 24 July 2020. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
- "Sunday (The Gospel According to Iso) (CD)". JB HiFi. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
- Kreps, Daniel (January 13, 2010). "Johnny Cash's "American VI: Ain't No Grave" Out February 26th". Rolling Stone.
- ""NCIS" Patriot Down". IMDB. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- Frye, Ryan. "WWE: TIES WITH UNDERTAKER & JOHNNY CASH LIE MUCH DEEPER THAN "AIN'T NO GRAVE"". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- Anderson, Kyle. "Movie trailers: What's that Song?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- Thorne, Will. "Jack Sparrow Returns in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales' Trailer". Variety. Retrieved 10 February 2017.