Bluegrass goes No. 1
So, if David Bruce Murray’s little bird is right that a bluegrass song will be the next No. 1 song on the SN chart, and given that Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver were sitting at No. 4 last month (same position on Billboard’s report, too), doth my powers of deduction fail me to conclude that DL&Q’s “Help is On the Way” will top the southern gospel chart?
DBM wonders about an uproar. I dunno. I’m sure among the classic quartet set there may be some wailing and gnashing of teeth, but hard to imagine more than a shortlived squall. The fact of the matter is, mo matter how much people claim to love the good ole gospel quartet way, they’ve been voting quite differently with their billfolds and butts for some time, buying product and filling seats at concerts featuring all manner of styles and formations of gospel.
Plus, let’s be honest: the classic quartets aren’t the center of creative energy in the industry anymore. The most innovative and interesting music and personalities are coming from everywhere but the classic quartet: The Booths, the Perrys, Austins Bridge, EHSSQ (a quartet but hardly classic, despite their throwbacks to the days of Jake and Hovie), Lauren Talley (my list is not exhaustive). Gold City may be an exception, but it’s the kind that proves the rule.
It’s not that the traditional quartet is irrelevant, but its function is increasingly to be a nostalgic piece of furniture in the room that evokes fond memories and warm associations from the past. As long as the new styles and groups ascending in popularity derived from the quartet, as trios and mixed groups did, their success could be spun as a kind of indirect reaffirmation of the quartet’s preeminence despite its decline, practically speaking. But DL&Q really comes from a largely separate musical and folk culture, one that overlaps with southern gospel for sure, but has its own history and stylistic conventions.
Which leaves traditional quartets even further out in the cold, so long as the tradition continues define itself as an antique. Or, as the announcement for Vaughan Quartet Festival puts it:
Live drums and loud sound is [sic] forbidden.
Alrighty then (h/t to whomever brought this to my attention; I can’t find the original email but I’m grateful all the same).
DLQ at No. 1, taken together with the Oaks’ return to the SN chart not too long, would not only suggest that the SN’s charting system is becoming a more accurate reflection of the music gospel audiences are actually listening to. It also ought to remind quartet traditionalists that theirs isn’t the only tradition that matters.Email this Post