Released on: Let Robeson Sing (Single #29) Epic Records, 10 September 2001
Peak UK Chart Position: #19
Band Ranking: #19
Uniquely, ‘Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel’ is classified here under the letter “t” for “traditional”. While the Manics’ decision to record this song was no doubt meant as a tribute to Paul Robeson, the subject of the attached A-side who was known for singing the song, it is in fact a very old composition with no known author. This is the only occasion on which the Manics have recorded a traditional song.
‘Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel’ is the kind of song often referred to as a negro spiritual – a religious work written and sung by black slaves in the United States. That the Manics chose to record it is interesting for two reasons – first, it represents another moment in which the band’s interest in black musical culture makes an appearance and second, it requires Bradfield to sing an explicitly religious lyric with a number of Biblical references (most notably to Daniel himself, protagonist of the Book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible). Clearly the band could look past their opposition to religion in order to appreciate the beauty of this graceful song.
Bradfield’s vocals are a world away from Robeson’s extremely deep ones but as ever they have their own charm. The rest of the song consists largely of Bradfield’s quite loudly strummed guitar and a few washes of suitably devotional organ in places. The element of echo in the mix goes a long way to enhancing the effect of this brief recording, which omits some of the traditional lyrics and slips by in barely over two minutes. It’s a fascinating minor recording, a thoughtful addition to the single and a fine tribute to the great Paul Robeson.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“and why not every man?”
The lion’s den – a story recounted in the Hebrew Bible in which Daniel is thrown into a lion’s den as a punishment for praying but is later found unharmed.
Jonah – another figure in the Hebrew Bible who was famously swallowed by a whale. He also appears in the Qur’an under the name Yunus.