This story in the New York Times about country singer John Rich cutting a populist protest tune about the greedy gall of our banking overlords helping wreck the economy and then taking performance bonuses reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to ask: is there much of a history in gospel music of writing songs that speak directly to social or economic upheaval? I’m not talking about evergreen culture-war music (i.e. “We Want America Back” or “Cry for the Children”) but songs that explicitly comment on current events.
I have this gut feeling that there were vague references to 9/11 in songs that came out in the earlier part of the decade. But apart from bespeaking my absentmindedness, this may suggest that what songs did emerge to address the situation did so in ways that were latent and/or late-coming.
Perhaps this makes sense. Southern gospel orthodoxy is built around the notion of a never-changing God who holds the world in the predestinarian sovereignty of his immortal hands. What seems like a world-historical upheaval to us in our mortal myopia is merely a blip in the cosmic weather pattern that the almighty sees and ordains from on high. Thus the sg response is the same in crisis and in calm: the redemptive crucifixion of Christ covers all.
Be that as it may, you can bet your bippy (as my psych professor in college would have said) that some emcee has already used the current economic crisis as a set-up for a song or five in an attempt to make old material seem newly relevant. “Here’s an old song that has never been truer than today … listen as we sing, ‘I Hold a Clear Title …’”
But I wonder if we’ll see any lyrics that overtly reference the Great Recession. Anybody wanna take a stab at a hook? “Jesus already bailed us out”? “Bailed out by the blood”? “No credit default swaps in heaven”? “They’ll never foreclose on my mansion in the sky”?Email this Post