“How can he listen to that?”
From a recent interview with former Gaither Vocal Bander Terry Franklin and his wife, Barbie (h/t, NG):
AFAJ: What is something significant that you did not know about your spouse prior to marriage?
TF: I grew up loving Southern Gospel quartet music, and that is not something that Barbi shares.
BF: It wasn’t until about six years into our marriage that it started coming out, and I would ask, “How can he listen to that?” It was so funny because after a while we started doing a lot more songwriting and that was one of the styles we began to write. Now, I think we’re probably known more for our Southern Gospel writing than any other style of music. I still don’t love Southern Gospel music, but I do appreciate it. [And] I appreciate Terry for who he is.”
Judging by a very unscientific survey I just did from memory in my mind, this sort of musically mixed marriage is a pretty common phenomenon. Off the top of my head, I can think of half a dozen or so relationships in which one person is a musician, performer, songwriter, or other sort of industry insider in a longterm relationship with someone who not only didn’t grow up with any significant exposure to sg, but also actively dislikes it, or did initially at any rate (of course the Gaithers are the classic example of this, and Bill Gaither has written about it at some length). Though the interview doesn’t go into the matter in any more depth, I suspect Barbie Franklin’s initial reaction to sg was not unlike those with which I am more familiar: a kind of instinctive surface revulsion to what at first sounds hopelessly unsophisticated and artistically incurious music.
With time and patience and the kind of longsuffering spirit in which one will do the otherwise unimaginable for love of another person, the sg outsider usually comes round to a reluctant appreciation for sg, as Barbie Franklin seems to describe here. A few of these precious souls will even manage an NQC visit at some point in their lives (if you ask really really nicely and promise plenty of stiff drinks afterwards). And they’ll usually come away both with some of their more ungenerous opinions confirmed (especially if they walk through the holy fleamarket in the NQC exhibit hall) but also with a surprised sense of how beautiful and evocative and soul-stirring it can be when the musical moment seems to reverberate in harmony with one’s very beating heart. Like Franklin, they may never come to love sg like we do, but they no longer wonder “how can he listen to that?” And they’re just a little more considerate - there’s just a titch less edge in their voices - when they ask, “can you turn that down a little … please?”Email this Post