Reimagining the Crabb songbook
Perhaps the approach of the Crabb Family’s final concert has seeped into my subconscious because even though I haven’t been consciously thinking that much about it lately (in fact, hadn’t thought about it in months until I read this), I woke up this morning with “He Came Looking for Me” running through my head. But here’s the catch: I was hearing it with crystal clarity arranged in a straight-ahead classic quartet style – imagine the way Eva Mae or Rosa Nell might kick things off on the piano, with four traditional bars of a convention-song intro; imagine the vocals arranged for classic four-part harmony: homophonic verses and contrapuntal parts for each voice in the chorus.
This is how I was hearing it anyway. I think the Crabbs’ own arrangement and their singing style is still t00 firmly imprinted on the songs they popularized for anyone to be able to say if an arrangement like the one I was hearing for “He Came Looking for Me” would work, or just sound foolish. But with time and distance from the original Crabb Family, the Crabb songbook – or at least the handful of blowout hits from it – will become less and less associated solely with the Crabb Family’s recordings of those songs and start being treated as “classics” or representative samples of the best that was written and sung from this era of southern gospel.
And when that happens, inevitably the songs will start being picked up and rearranged. Think of the difference between, say, the Goodmans version of “Give Up” and the Gaither Vocal Band’s re-vision of that song in the mid-nineties. I’m not sure my retro arrangement of “He Came Looking for Me” would hold up that well, but I’ll be curious to see the way the Crabb catalog is absorbed into southern gospel’s collective (re)imagination over time.Email this Post