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.

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  1. Bryce wrote:

    This is the version I listen to, arranged for male quartet. Roni Goss and Terry Blackwood are in the demo ensemble, with Terry shining on lead vocals. In fact, I hear the same infectious tune in my head, except it’s this version, not the Crabbs’.

  2. ST wrote:

    Since Crabb Revival is coming out of all this, I wonder how many old Crabb tunes they will hang onto? Also, I guess they will sing some from the Crabb Farewell project and put that on the table as well.

    I have heard announcements from everybody in the Crabb clan concerning their future plans except for Jason. Are they waiting for convention to tell his future plans or did I just miss it?

  3. Trent wrote:

    Avery, I’ve had the exact same thoughts about “He Came Looking For Me”. It’s a strong ballad. In another 10 or 15 years, someone will record it a little differently and have a powerhouse single with it.

    There’s a gem in the Crabb catalog that most people haven’t even heard. It’s from their “Crabbgrass” recording, and it’s called “The Crossing’s Wide”. This is another big song waiting to happen for somebody. It could go over well right now, because it wasn’t one of their better-known songs. It’s a great one.

  4. cdguy wrote:

    Jason said last week (from the stage) that he’d like to pastor. There is rumor he is talking with Clint Brown’s ministry in Florida. Don’t know what that means.

  5. QN wrote:

    Jason hosts 2 TV programs now, right?

  6. laura wrote:

    I heard that Jason has put together his own group complete with backup singers and band, whats up with that? Why did he leave his family? Is it a solo career he seeks? Its sorda unfair to them for him to walk away from a decade plus ministry to be solo.

  7. Tom K. wrote:

    Just take a look at Jason’s schedule at The Beckie Simmons agency website, and you will note that he is going to be very busy. We just booked him for March, 2008, to sing and preach in the AM service and do a concert in the PM service. Think he’s going to be an active servant for The Lord!

  8. wackythinker wrote:

    I wouldn’t classify the splitting up of the Crabb Family as Jason walking away from a decade of ministry to be solo. He has said for some time, now, that he desires to preach. And with all the kids have gone through with their family changes, I know I’d have trouble maintaining “business as usual”.

    Rather than speculate on all that’s happening, maybe we should pray for all involved, believing that God will be honored in all that transpires.

  9. gribblja wrote:

    Bryce, Thanks for the link…just bought this for my church singers, great music on there. Love the Crabbs music but it will be interesting to see how they hold up over the years with different arrangements instead of reworking the same arrangement.

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