Excerpts of the day

Longtime reader and virtual avfl pal DA wrote to remind me today of Robert Ruark’s reflections on Depression-era camp meetings and revivals in The Old Man and The Boy:

The white revivals were a little depressing, because everybody including the preacher was full of sin and eager to admit it. People I knew well who hadn’t had a bad thought or committed an evil deed in forty years used to go to the bench and confess to the most amazing breaches of the peace of state and soul. I always felt like they were bragging, so as not to be left out of things. One Sunday, though, we went to the Big Town and heard Billy Sunday produce a fire-and-brimstoner under a big tent, and I was powerfully impressed, possibly because the Devil-hating Mr. Sunday had been a professional baseball player once. I didn’t smoke for a week, not even corn silk or rabbit tobacco for fear of hell-and-damnation. I even gave up baseball and fishing on Sunday for a little spell.

And here Ruark is on bass singers:

A good bass singer made the circuit of meetings, and was nearly as popular as the preacher in terms of chocolate cake, fried chicken, and free access to the fruit jar. I remember The Old Man spotting a strange face in the crowd once, and asking the man where he came from, and why he was there. The man smiled, understanding our rather peculiar patriarchal attitude. “Ah comes from Onslow County. Ah come heah to drink whiskey and sing bass,” he replied in a voice that would have made Paul Robeson sound like a soprano. This fellow was very popular with the younger female set, and usually disappeared from view around midnight.

Heheh. The more things change … etc.

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  1. Dexter wrote:

    So funny…but VERY true….

  2. Canuk wrote:

    I love that book and its sequel. One of my very favorites.

  3. Leebob wrote:

    We’ll confess to anything if we think it gives us more favor with the Almighty and with our fellow man.

  4. Dwight wrote:

    If I could have only lived in that era. Being a bass singer, I could sure get with the fried chicken, pie and….
    Great post Doug

  5. Robert wrote:

    I’ll have to see if Amazon has that book. I’d like to read it.
    #4 Dwight. Your comment made my night.

  6. Philo wrote:

    That bass sounds like JD on speed.

  7. Distracted by Life wrote:

    Do you folks mean to imply that members of sg groups then, and now, engage in activities that could at the least be called questionable? Are you implying that members of sg groups use tobacco, alcohol, and partake in carnal pleasures while on the road? None are perfect, to be sure, but I am always leery of statements made on blogs without proof. Although Doug does seem to always have his finger on the pulse of sg. So I don’t know what to think……..not that it matters.

  8. SG Obzerver wrote:

    #7 - I have some news to break to you about Santa and the Easter Bunny as well…you might want to sit down…

  9. Philo wrote:

    Dear dear what planet has distracted by life been on? Get yourself a copy of the ‘Bad boy of Gospel music’ by Calvin Newton, it’s straight from the horses mouth so to speak, then you can wake up and smell the coffee.

  10. LW wrote:

    I have to agree, as a child my mother took to many sg sings where the members of these groups had questionable practices. Most were just trying to make a living. NOt all were “fine christian young men”. Just becasue they “sell” a song well doesn’t mean they believe what they are singing. They just knew what to say when, and to who. You can’t make a living in SG if you offend.

  11. Dwight wrote:

    ummm..Yep Yahoo has it and I just bought it plus the follow up………twill be good reading I suspect….wait, I must needs go and check my still….the fire burneth low.

  12. Proven correct wrote:

    hey yall sure there are those in sg music that arent being who they pretend to be. but there are some in sg music that really live what they sing about. i can name several that i know personally both on stage and off. why must we try and throw darts at the sg industry because a few or more are bad? not all are bad why dont we talk about them? is no one interested in good honest living musicians? or would yall rather just look at the negative? what about the words Jesus said to you, think on good things?

  13. Philo wrote:

    #12 Thats just plain denial.Just the typical duplicity that makes the secular world laugh into their cornflakes. No wonder some think Christians are deluted at worse or suffer from selective amnesia at best. And justifiably so i hasten to add.

  14. Dave wrote:

    I agree with #12, i wanna hear about the singers that are really living the life, not the phonies out there. I think the people who are just doing it as a job should get out of the business.

  15. Practical Fellow wrote:

    Re: #4 - What, are you 14 years old, Dwight? Get back to watching Star Trek and leave these conversations to the grown ups.

    My issue with this post is not that this stuff occurs in gospel music - because it does - but that Ruarks’ reflections are a blanket of nostalgia from the homemade fried chicken to the womanizing bass singer (or man-izing - that occurs too). Ruarks’ writing essentially winks at morally bankrupt behavior. And sleezy singers taking advantage of star-struck gospel fans is nothing to reflect upon with fondness.

  16. Proven correct wrote:

    #13 (Philo) please notice that i didnt say that all live what they sing about, but some live what they sing about. i hope there are more than this but here are ones that i know personally both on stage and off / both on the bus and off

    new river
    young harmony
    the jeff bowling group
    crabb revival
    the shepherds

    these i know personally and have traveled on their buses many times.
    why trash the entire industry with your words. plus how different are you then the groups that are living pretend. have you gone to them to help them get their feet back on the right path or would you rather just talk about them?

  17. Philo wrote:

    Proven correct#16.The way you had written ‘Hey yall sure there are those in sg…..’ means to me ‘Hey are you all sure…’ It should have read ‘Hey yall. Sure there are those in sg….’ See how omitting a punctuation mark can change the intended meaning otherwise i would not have posted that remark.

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