MOBILE, Ala. - In a remarkable development concerning religion, civil rights and blues music, a renowned researcher of suppression in the U.S. has announced that somebody did know the trouble that was seen by the millions who have sung Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen.
Professor Milo Mendalshiphazard has spent the better part of his life trying to prove that, indeed, nobody ever knew the trouble suggested in the classic gospel song. However, he has run into a few facts along the way to prove that somebody did know such trouble.
In a press conference at his office in Mobile, Prof. Mendalshiphazard said, "The song claims, in certain versions, that Jesus is the only one to know the trouble suggested in the lyrics. However, Jesus never counted as a ‘somebody' that could disprove the ‘nobody' status.
"But now, records from Tupelo, Mississippi indicate that one Silus Johnstown did know the trouble that was sung about. It is undeniable now that somebody knew the trouble suggested in the song because Silus qualifies as a somebody."
History is not kind to Silus Johnstown, a young slave who was ignored even by Alex Haley in his groundbreaking book, Roots. Though that may be because Silus was not traced to the Haley family, the professor said documentation that Silus had even more trouble than the trouble that was claimed nobody knew about in the famous song.
"Silus was beaten hourly," said the professor, reading from a diary found on the grounds of an old plantation in Mississippi, "just for the fun of it. Each member of our 15-person family took turns beating him. Then we didn't feed him for a week and made him live in the pigpen."
All researchers agree that is more trouble than the song swore anyone knew.
"Also," the professor said, "Silus lived through all of the troubles, and there were plenty more that would come his way until his death at 99."
Gospel experts around the country are stunned and some don't believe it.
Reverend Sitcom Bellyjones of the Congregation of the Troubled said, "This is a farce. I still believe nobody has seen the trouble sung about in our cherished song, even though the trouble in the song is never identified."
The song has no official author and many song experts feel that the concept of "trouble" in the song has been exaggerated. One such expert, Lolly Thomas-Bendbone, said, "It is all a metaphor but it has been taken to mean actual trouble. Also, the concept of ‘nobody' means ‘not everybody' but never was meant to mean ‘no one.'"
Reggie Corn, folk song expert, said that was nonsense. "Lolly has it wrong. ‘Nobody' means ‘not a one,' if not ‘no one' and in the song the singers always mean ‘not one other soul on earth.'"
If the professor is correct, the lyrics of the famous song may be changed once and for all. One gospel singer suggested using the line, "Only one person in the world knows the trouble I've seen."
But other gospel experts are wary about changing the lyrics because, as one expert said, "Suppose others are found to have known the trouble? The number may be growing even as we speak."
The Gospel Association of America has decided to put a moratorium on the song until all gospel singers agree upon a number.
The controversy continues. The professor will release all of his findings in a book coming out for Christmas called, The Trouble You Have Seen May Have Been Witnessed By Others.