Just Sing: Sometimes I Cry

I’ve kept the Jason Crabb song of this name on speed dial this week, in no small part because its portrait of an earnest soul that struggles for (and regularly fails to achieve) spiritual buoyancy has been an apt summary of my post-NQC state of mind and feeling.

Roger Ebert laments in his recently released memoir that so much of his life “has been devoted to such large part to films of worthlessness.” I confess in my darker moments to fearing something not dissimilar about so much of my time and energy spent listening to and thinking and writing about gospel music. And then he  writes this:

Hollywood dialogue was once witty, intelligent, ironic, poetic, musical. Today it is flat. [I]t sometimes seems as if the movies are more mediocre than ever, more craven and cowardly, more skillfully manufactured to pander to the lowest tastes instead of educating them.

I scrawled a note to myself when I read this: Replace HW dialogue with sg and movies with songs and you just about have the measure of things in southern gospel today.

Well, I don’t know if I really believe that all the time (and one might be hard pressed, even if one is an academic in one’s day job, to make the case for much irony in southern gospel, ever). But to say it and take it back captures something of the spirit of lamentation that has followed me back from Louisville.

A friend of mine and I (h/t, KC) have been exchanging old clips of vintage sg all week, a way, it seems, of constructively mourning, I guess. Watching these clips (like this and this) is like watching the brilliant climb of a mighty rocket … the ever more glorious ascent guaranteeing the harder fall to come.

Go back to the Rambos in their prime or the Kingsmen at the height of their power and you won’t have to look hard to find the origins of today’s default reliance on overproduction, mawkish showmanship, outsized personalities and styles. It’s always been there, just in different proportion. When people yearn for the good ole days, at least in southern gospel, I suspect many of us, whether we know it or not, are speaking in sentimental shorthand of a time when the music seems to have held its self-discrediting tendencies in a more productive tension with artists’ native talent than one encounters today.

In other words, southern gospel hasn’t become something different than it was. It’s more unsavory tendencies - long latent for lo so many years - have just come over time to predominate.

Except when they don’t, and that’s the other reason why I’ve been returning to the clip below of late:

The next time someone asks me to describe or explain southern gospel, I think I’ll just send them this song, for it seems to be just about as close as one could hope to come to the perfect example of what today’s professional southern gospel can be, at its best. Here, there’s the classic southern-gospel personalization of theology and the translation of religious belief into a narrative of self-embattlement in the context of divine relief.

Yet also notice how the song reimagines this tradition: typically, the verses lay out the problem of personal insufficiency or failure of some sort, and the chorus solves the dilemma by reestablishing the always-already overcoming power of divine relief in salvation and grace. But here, it’s the verses that lay out the orthodoxy of God’s faithfulness and grace, of abiding by the practices and customs of a normative religious culture (those verses brilliantly describe culturally southern evangelicalism in a carefully crafted language that keeps the song - and us - on the knife’s edge between respect and risibility), while the heart of the song is a melodic and lyrical celebration in the chorus of spiritual frailty and the the necessity of acknowledging, even embracing, one’s own fallibility.  The chorus is still the emotional center of the song, as per southern-gospel usual, but there’s an emotional inversion to it - a subtle resistance to the typical restatement of orthodox pieties - that has the effect of making something totally familiar seem like a new mercy.

The song isn’t just about being religious or speerchul. It vividly conveys the way a particular religious vision is lived in a particular part of the world, a world of Chevys and Jesus fish and cross decals and bible studies and tv preachers and self-consciously manly men who weep openly at the altar of their own insufficiency. The song manages to document the banalities of bubbas in pickup trucks and the plastic iconography of modern piety and the televised universe of latter-day Elmer Gantrys without becoming another silly exercise in folksy pandering.

It is, it seems to me, the gift of gospel when a song reaches out this way from within its own world and speaks directly to us with a plain, palpable power animated by the particular truths of an individually lived religion.

I suspect the rarer that gift becomes, the harder many of us will continue to search for it.

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Comments

  1. Friday Night Revival wrote:

    You are right. And for the most part, that’s why a song like “Sometimes I Cry” will win a Dove Award, but not a Singing News fan award. It makes us a bit uncomfortable, to an extent. Much in the way “City of God” or “The Kings Speech” would win at Cannes Festival or Sundance, or even an Oscar, but fail to even be nominated in an MTV/Michael Bay world.

    I haven’t seen a thought provoking Michael Bay film since “The Island”, and that’s being generous.

  2. yankeegospelgirl wrote:

    But isn’t that giving the Doves more credit than they really deserve? I’ve seen songs win a Dove that weren’t anything to write home about. Same thing is true of the Oscars. Titanic, anyone?

  3. Friday Night Revival wrote:

    #2. No.

    And Titanic deserved at least half of what it got. Sappy storyline maybe. But it changed an entire culture, and was far ahead of its time.

    But back to the song.

    But Gerald and Jason Crabb buck the trends of gospel music by going straight back to its roots. Certainly, that statement is a paradox, but one in which I believe to be true.

  4. yankeegospelgirl wrote:

    Well I can think of few things more pointless to fight over than _Titanic_. As quartet-man says, you don’t have to agree with my opinion (even though you’re still wrong). :D

    As for the Doves, you mean to tell me you haven’t seen anything or anybody win a Dove that didn’t deserve it? Come now. There’s good quality and bad quality like with any other kind of awards show. And I say that as someone who grew up on CCM. I’ve been watching it die a slow death all my life, to the point where I literally couldn’t stand to turn the radio on anymore.

  5. Melody Thomas wrote:

    Jason is the real deal, and he’s a star. Not because he tries to be, but just because he is who he is. Faults and all, we can relate to him so well!

    Jason is already doing great things and I think he will continue to do great big things for the kingdom. Maybe Jason can save some of what we have lost.

  6. Jeff Gurnett wrote:

    Here’s another great one. Southern Gospel at it’s best:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaJkHVit0V8&list=PLEB4E7A9573FBD010&index=10

  7. Bones wrote:

    Jason seems to put feeling into a song. His facial expressions make it seem sincere. He actually looks happy.

  8. yankeegospelgirl wrote:

    Vocally, Jason may not always be my cup of tea, but danged if he ain’t the real deal. I respect him, for sure.

  9. CVH wrote:

    yankeegospelgirl (#2, #4, #8),

    I thought you said you weren’t going to post here anymore. I’m disappointed with your lack of follow-through.

  10. BackwoodsPhilosopher wrote:

    Doug, you are one of the best writers that I have encountered in a long time. To say that you are a wordsmith is an understatement of the century. What a heartfelt article.

    Your views on Southern Gospel music can be compared to what has happened to the entire American culture in the last fifty years. And yes, it is a grief to the person who just enjoys the simple things of life.

    Music as a whole has declined in content, quality, sound and purity. Originality has gone by the wayside while repetitive melodies dominate the charts and then drop out of existence.

    The consistent attempts of marketers to sell more music has replaced the futile attempts of artists to showcase their gift of creativity. Spiritual depth has been replaced by the golden calf of emptiness. That’s one of the reasons why I still listen to one of my Hinson favorites. It’s a dose of originality that speaks to the troubled waters of the soul:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cS31UVCAYk

  11. Auke wrote:

    This is a great post..i do so agree with it.bravo!

  12. Hector Luna wrote:

    yankeegospelgirl, I thought you were gone. My day got worse. Go blow up another blog, continue your identity search of AAP…or keep trying to make bad, inarticulate arguments disguised in intelligence, please?

    But true sir, beautiful song. Dynamic singer and personality.

  13. More wrote:

    CVH, why don’t you shut up and let free speech exist.

  14. yankeegospelgirl wrote:

    Yes, CVH? Do you have something substantial to say about the topic at hand? Please, we’re all ears. FNR happens to be an acquaintance and I was interacting with him. It just so happened we were interacting on this forum.

  15. yankeegospelgirl wrote:

    Oh Hector, I’m so sorry I ruined your day. That makes me sad. But I tell you what. Instead of just saying “Your arguments are bad and inarticulate. Nyah!!!” why don’t you name specific things you disagree with and explain why my arguments for them are flawed? Then we can have a mature discussion.

    As for AAP, I don’t really care who they are or what they do. At this point I’m losing interest in them anyway.

  16. Wade wrote:

    She did not deny the Diesel Sniffer tag in a recent post!!!

  17. irishlad wrote:

    CVH…don’t you take no sh*t boy…you here! :)

  18. irishlad wrote:

    …specially from no damn yankee nether.

  19. yankeegospelgirl wrote:

    Wade, if I understand the term correctly, it means that you’re so obsessed with a band that you want to have sex with one or more of them.

    The idea that this would describe me is so appalling and filthy that I shouldn’t even be required to address it.

  20. irishlad wrote:

    6 thank you for that Jeff,this is in no way meant to be a racist remark,but there are very,very few white groups out there who could have pulled that off with such passion.

  21. irishlad wrote:

    Wade that’s how you like your wimmin isn’t it?.. appalling and filthy :)

  22. Wade wrote:

    Snakes in Head type thing Irish Lad!!! One of my favorite Karaoke Songs is…”I Like My Women a Little On the Trashy Side!!”

    But never had much respect for diesel sniffers or women who think they are doing YOU a “FAVOR”.. both I suspect to probably be true!!

  23. NG wrote:

    Calling a woman a diesel sniffer is sexist and wrong. In the 21st century, I’d like to think we wouldn’t be judging people because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, handicap or religion. But it seems one can never let up on fighting such behaviour. Here in Canada last week a fan at a hockey game threw a banana at a black player. Sad.

  24. irishlad wrote:

    NG..they’re called groupies in any other form of music and it’s a fact that 99% of them are women so from that respect it’s neither sexist nor wrong.

  25. NG wrote:

    Irishlad: It is sexist when it refers to a specific woman posting here. One might not like her views but that doesn’t justify name calling. This blog had a lot of that when folks found out who Avery was.

  26. CVH wrote:

    more (#13),

    Why don’t I shut up and let free speech exist? Isn’t that just a bit contradictory? I’m not challenging anyone’s right to free speech. The only limitations on free speech are those imposed by our esteemed host and I think he has been very generous in allowing bigots, morons and ideologues more than their fair share of space to express their views.

    yankeegospelgirl (#14),

    No, nothing to add. My comment was in response to the fact that you had indicated you were not going to post here anymore. Explain. Or post on your own blog. At least, try to stay on topic.

  27. art wrote:

    On the topic at hand: Roger Ebert loves good movies. His paid career is to cover movies — the good, the bad and the ugly. Avery loves southern gospel. His unpaid career is to cover SG, which includes plenty of good, bad and ugly.

    If mediocre southern gospel is so depressing, you don’t have to take what the NQC and other committees dish out. Be selective and stick with the SG music that meets your standards of quality.

    But when you try to offer an overview of the entire genre, you have to swallow the silt with the water.

    It reminds me of a professional baseball game I saw recently. It’s supposed to be fun to play baseball, but those millionaires didn’t look like they were having much fun in the 102 degree heat. They had stopped playing baseball and had started working their careers.

  28. art wrote:

    NOT on the topic at hand: I’m not sure what yankeegospelgirl did to offend so many folks, but there is a lot of bitterness here. Her posts that I’ve seen here have been very much within the bounds of this blog’s standard. By contrast, the angry remarks aimed at her — and the one sexist remark — seem to be setting a new low.

    I’m not trying to be the etiquette police, but this kind of stuff is taking the joy out of this site.

  29. Ben Storie wrote:

    This is one of my all-time favorite Gerald Crabb songs and Jason does a great job with it. The first time I heard it on the radio I was at work and I just stopped typing and leaned back in my chair. It seemed a little out of place in the stale radio mix because it felt so raw and transparent. I guess it says everything I want it to say about my faith experience: even when I have my act together and I’m doing all the right things (which isn’t often enough), life comes at me hard and I have a very human response. Props to Gerald Crabb for writing another great song. He earned recognition for SIC. Glad he got it.

  30. More wrote:

    CVH, your free speech ends when it tries to stop someone else’s free speech.

  31. cynical one wrote:

    Art, I think the biggest argument against Yankee Girl here is that she broke her promise.

    NG — If you look around NQC, and other sg concerts, you’ll see plenty of male diesel sniffers, too. And although there have not been many comments on this site about that availablility, there have benn many comments about artists who may be interested.

  32. irishlad wrote:

    28 Art i’ll give you a very good example why YGG pisses people off…go to fridaynite revival’s site and look at her remarks about the writer’s writing ability in a very early post.Not much to fault in my mind,but for some strange and unknown reason she seemed to think that she was in the position to give the guy a master class in composition WT….? i ask you.I must say Fridynite was most gracious about it and more power to his/her elbow.

  33. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    This is a passionate, soulful performance of a well-written, musically interesting song. How dare we denigrate it by referring to it as southern gospel?

    This song hits a trifecta of genuineness of performance, genuineness of performer (or at least the appearance thereof), and well-written song. Southern gospel should YEARN for more of this, but unfortunately, this is the sort of song that will be condemned by many due to the absence of three other dudes wearing the same outfit and the presence of a stratocaster in the singer’s hand.

    In a genre with a serious genuineness deficiency, this clip is awesome.

  34. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    As an aside, is there anything more irresistible than a consdescending woman studying philosophy with an opinion on everything and a seemingly endless amount of time with which to spout said opinions online?

    But alas, my vehicle uses unleaded…(that’s for you, Wade)

  35. Tim Maze wrote:

    Could there may be such an over abundance of artist that there are not enough songs of good quality to go around? Just sayin…..

  36. BackwoodsPhilosopher wrote:

    #34:

    So, it’s okay for some folks to have opinions, but it’s not okay for certain others to have opinions.

    I understand. Observations, revelations, assumptions, research and opinions are only acceptable if you agree with them. Now, that’s a surprise. What’s new in the world today?

  37. spiderchocolate wrote:

    wait a sec…who exactly are the opinionated ones here?

    man, that hypocrisy stuff stinks.

  38. CVH wrote:

    More (#30),

    I’m not sure if yours is a reading disorder or simply an inability to comprehend what has been written, but let me restate that I’m not trying to stop YGG’s free speech. Within the context of this discussion, free speech is regulated by our host. If he allows it, so be it.

    With regard to YGG, after clearly stating that her intellectual superiority was being tarnished by mingling with the great, unwashed masses, and saying that she was not going to post here again, she did. Several times. I simply asked why. I’m certain that if she answers my question it will be another condescending dismissal, which is fine. She’s laughable. Annoying, but laughable.

  39. Lurker wrote:

    For what it’s worth–with the NCQ live feed ($59.95) there was a chat room. I was lurking in the chat room (never posted) when the topic of SG blogs came up and “the person being discussed” advised the others in the chat room **not** to read Averyfineline. Seems kind of ironic that this individual person obviously does not follow the advise they give to others: “Do as I say, not as I do.”

    For someone with such supposedly high standards regarding saying anything remotely critical of anyone, she opined in said chat room as to whether a spouse of a performer was their spouse “in the sight [or maybe it was eyes] of God.” I am glad to say that no one else in the chat room touched that one.

  40. art wrote:

    I found Friday Night Revival but was not sufficiently tech savvy to find the post Irishlad referred to in #32. Regardless, I can certainly believe that everybody on this site has the capacity to get a little full of himself.

    Still, it is sad for me to see the insults and vindictiveness from people on this blog whom I’ve come to like and often respect.

    In my Bible reading today, I came across 2 Timothy 2:23-24, and I thought of you guys. Take it for what it’s worth.

  41. art wrote:

    Back to the topic: Wow, Jason has a powerful presence and ability, and both are on display with this fine song. I have to agree with some of #33, in wondering how this could be considered SG, other than the fact of Jason’s career with his family’s SG group.

    In a long-ago discussion about the definition of SG music, I believe that Soli Deo Gloria mentioned that tight harmonies must be part of the mix, and I agreed then and still agree.

    Whatever the genre, Jason Crabb is always worth listening to.

  42. spiderchocolate wrote:

    I posted #37 before 35 and 36 showed up, FWIW.

  43. BackwoodsPhilosopher wrote:

    Spiderchocolate, that’s okay………no problemo. I’m not even upset with my dear fellow poster Soli Deo Gloria. I’m not upset with anyone. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m very opinionated and I don’t mind opinionated people. I love to hear other people’s views and opinions. Sometimes, a little debate is good for the soul.

  44. yankeegospelgirl wrote:

    Art, at #28 and #40:

    If you’d shoot me an e-mail at the address on my site I’d be glad to clear anything up for you. Thanks.

  45. irishlad wrote:

    40..it was the very first post i believe,the one about Larri Goss.

  46. cdguy wrote:

    Could this song become another “Lighthouse”?

  47. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    Regarding my post at No. 34:

    The intention of that comment was to poke a little fun at my buddy, Wade. Instead, it clearly comes across as a sophomoric shot at yankeegospelgirl, which was never the intention. I apologize to her and to everyone else for my inartful writing.

    We’re getting bogged down here. I think I’ve made my objection to YGG’s presence well-enough known, so rather than raise it again at every opportunity, I’m just going to invoke a standing objection to her generally, beginning now. Let the record so reflect.

  48. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    Art (No. 41), you’re absolutely right about harmony being a core element of southern gospel. Which begs an excellent question: What do we do with a Jason Crabb?

    Here’s another question: I thought Jason Crabb to the GVB when Guy Penrod (ahem!) retired would have been a good move for Crabb in part because I thought it would give his more peripheral stuff more credibility in southern gospel fandom. Does anyone else have a thought on that?

  49. Aaron Swain wrote:

    Soli: I’ll address your #48 comment first, then go back to another one. The videos of Jason Crabb filling in with the GVB are some of my all-time favorite clips of the group. Crabb brought out a different side to his voice in those, it seemed. I really like the style he uses regularly, but it felt different with them. It may just be the quality of the clip, though. Check out “It Is Finished” and you might hear what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9HHCM1hyxE

    Though he didn’t join the group, his stuff seems to still be warmly received by Southern Gospel fans. Would it have been better received if he was with the GVB? Probably. But he’s doing fine with what his current situation is.

    Regarding your #33 comment: What draws you to this music if all you do is tear it down at every opportunity? Yes, DH is very rough on it in his critiques, but at least he professes to be a fan of the genre. I’m not trying to be confrontational; I’m honestly asking, because yours is a mindset that baffles me, if I’m perceiving it correctly.

  50. yankeegospelgirl wrote:

    I didn’t think Jason was wanting for fans either. He’s doing just fine.

    Aaron, good question. At least Avery seems passionate about the 1% (or is that .1%?) of true southern gospel he likes…

  51. irishlad wrote:

    49 spent many a sleepless night myself pondering over the same thing myself. I tried myself to engage a couple of times myself explaining that it was a core entity of music that does not evolve,other music forms evolve of SG..but to no avail. Look at the Cats from 1966 to 1996 they sounded the same, had 50% of the same line-up, sang the same genre of music from more or less of the same writers..then they came good,really,really good respected by most in the(Gospel) music world,now, in essence,were was the evolution needed to propel them to the top? They did the same thing from word go to the death.I have really no idea what Soli wants of an art form which is basically immutable.But hey! he’s on talking terms with Wade AND that’s a start. :)

  52. irishlad wrote:

    Re: my last post:myself myself myself…was i repeating myself? I really need to behave myself.Were is YGG when i need her, i’m beside myself. BTW CVH & Soli, YGG is a registered trade mark… mine. Ask permission before you can use it. :)

  53. CVH wrote:

    irishlad (#52),

    My humblest apologies for infringing on your trademark. Actually I think we’re missing a golden marketing opportunity here - YGG merch. Dolls, video games, iPhone apps…the possibilities are endless. And as a struggling college student, she’d probably appreciate a cut of the action. I’m in if you are :)

  54. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    Aaron Swain (No. 49): I’m pretty sure I wasn’t implying that Jason Crabb wasn’t “doing fine with his current situation” or “warmly received by Southern Gospel fans.” My point was that a mere warm reception is exactly what he gets, and a gig with the GVB would have elevated that substantially.

    Regarding your second comment, I think you’re confusing listening to southern gospel with a spiritually and musically discerning ear with “tear(ing) it down at every opportunity.” If anything, I’m trying to build it up. I respectfully disagree with your assumptions that a) I am not a fan of the genre; and b) mine is a baffling midset.

  55. Aaron Swain wrote:

    #54: Oh, I see. My fault for not getting the full meaning of the comment. I have to wonder, though, if it would be Jason himself being received, or if he would just be received as part of the GVB machine. It would have been an interesting scenario to watch unfold, for sure.

    Thank you for your response. I suppose comments that you make such as “This is a passionate, soulful performance of a well-written, musically interesting song. How dare we denigrate it by referring to it as southern gospel?” throw me off a bit. I’ve been reading your comments for quite a while on here, and tend to agree with you most of the time, especially about the spiritual content of much of the music. It was just comments like the one I mentioned that had me perceiving your mindset as one that hated the genre, yet frequented a blog based on it.

    Thanks for the clarification, and for not being so thin-skinned as to take my observations as personal attacks, as some are wont to do when someone else’s opinion doesn’t line up with theirs.

  56. carl wrote:

    Doug, if anyone doubts why you think this clip is a good example of what southern gospel music can be, send them to me. You focused on the re-positioning of the lyrics, which I hadn’t even noticed. I was looking at performance style. When you look at the clip in the context of Jason Crabb’s whole career, it calls up references to the history of roots gospel traditions. At the same time it demonstrates the power of the traditional idiom to recreate music with this very moment’s edge, so I think it has something to say about the vitality of the tradition – maybe even its potential for survival.

    Here’s my take on why. I suspect a lot of folks will disagree. There’s a musical grammar for southern pentecostal holiness gospel music that Jason Crabb commands. I have the feeling that it’s of a piece with a kind of preaching that uses cadence and melodic repetition—sometimes with instrumental ornamentation—that builds to a pitch that is as much music as it is speech. Almost like white whooping. Its best practitioners both preach and sing. I’m thinking, for example, of Tommy Bates.

    Aside: for an example of what I mean about Bates’ singing:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2FMhtm6bIo&feature=related
    and for him preaching in concert with a B3:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpPFi5ZMmU8&list=FLKgfnq7nrx6kJIiO1-Kqgcw&index=18

    I think that that idiom is the foundation that Jason Crabb builds on, and that it’s the form he plays with musically in both his solo and ensemble vocal work.

    You know that some folks will protest that that musical style isn’t pure SGM. It may not seem at first to have much to do with the quartet tradition or convention singing, but it has fit right alongside them for a long time. It shares a canon because its practitioners grew up knowing both quartet and convention traditions. Both of those traditions have always generated smaller ensemble and solo acts. Jason Crabb’s career fits that pattern, and I think his performance style(s) do(es) too.

  57. Wade wrote:

    CVH… but would anybody buy an iphone app or a doll that constantly told you how wrong you were every time you picked it up??? Then went on to tell you what she THINKS is RIGHT and YOU MUST LISTEN to it!! I say Pray for that philosophy prof!!!

  58. BackwoodsPhilosopher wrote:

    #56 Carl:

    I’ve seen Pastor Tommy Bates on more than one occasion - singing and preaching at various Pentecostal churches.

    He has one of the most undeniably pure, from the hills of Kentucky, soulful sound (with a tinge of Bluegrass at times) that I’ve heard in a long time.

    One night, in a Tifton, Georgia Church of God Camp-meeting, he began to sing (in pure Appalachian Mountain style) a portion of the book of Psalms a cappella. My Southern Baptist husband was overwhelmed with the performance.

    He said that, whether Tommy Bates realized it or not, he actually performed the song in the form of a Gregorian chant. It was just amazing.

    The following is not the particular performance because this You Tube clip has full-orchestra backup, but it’s a great example of his talent:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bez5vd2EYYU

  59. CVH wrote:

    Wade,

    Dude, you’re right…I just figured there must be more than a few masochists out there who would enjoy it.

  60. BackwoodsPhilosopher wrote:

    Carl, here’s another Tommy Bates video. He has taken the classic Pentecostal sound to another level with a layer of soul, blues and Appalachian mountain music.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj1oHXJlOYk&feature=related

    This is a clever mix that he has mastered over the years. Of course, he has been singing and playing since he was a teenager. It seems that the folks from Kentucky…..like Jason Crabb, Tommy Bates and Patti Loveless have a sound that is not easily duplicated.

    It’s one reason that I like to listen to Paul Maharrey from Alabama. He is the lead singer for The Maharreys. Their CD “Full Circle” is one of the best Gospel Bluegrass CD’s that I’ve heard in a long time.

    Paul gives his testimony about growing up poor in Alabama. Growing up poor or in the mountains, and understanding the struggles of the past, places a unique and pure sound deep within people who sing any form of Gospel music. Because……they’re not just singing about it……they’ve lived it. “Living it” brings another dimension to the music.

  61. Bones wrote:

    #60 Not impressed. Too phoney.

  62. RickinSoGA wrote:

    #61 Not impressed. You can’t spell.

  63. BackwoodsPhilosopher wrote:

    #62 - Thank you.

    #61 - Brother Bones, I hate to break it to you, but my husband and I are both writers for our blog and have written for other websites as well. We not only have a blog, but another website where I am the webmaster.

    He’s a minister, published author, former editorial contributor of a newspaper and the former VP of a Southern Baptist university.

    I am a former owner of a group tour business that planned and directed tours to Gaither Homecoming concerts, the Grand ‘Ole Opry and various other attractions.

    Therefore:

    #1. I am very familiar with Southern Gospel, have worked with SG promoters…. and I have been around it my entire life.

    #2. Since I am a writer and webmaster, and happen to love Gospel music, I am not “putting on” a phony act.

    #3. In case you haven’t noticed, this blog pertains to the discussion of music, especially Southern Gospel.

    Now, as they say down South, “Put that in your pipe and smoke it!”

  64. carl wrote:

    #58 and #60, BackwoodsPhilosopher:
    Thanks for the Youtube links. Bet you could predict that when I followed them, and then searched for the Maharreys, I got lost in a long late afternoon time fold of Appalachian gospel music. It made me remember the late Mike Seeger and how clearly he could show the importance of that area in the development of American music.

    I’d really like to see Tommy Bates, live, one day. He must have the old forms in his DNA because a few months ago I came across a clip of him doing “I am dwelling on the mountain” and I thought he canted it like a very old recording of a lined-out version of that song. There are a couple groups from the eastern parts of KY and TN that I haven’t seen for years that I’d like to see sing live again, and I’ll bet you could point me to more I’d enjoy.

    After I’d written that long post (#56) I got to thinking I could have made it shorter by saying only “Jason Crabb strikes me as a 21st century musical heir of Brother Claude Ely.” Know what I mean?

  65. irishlad wrote:

    60..Re:TB, yes indeed, that was quaintly heartwarming,although i do notice a few snakes lurking in the background,but it’s reassuring to see the young teenage nephew,affectionately know as Master Bates having everything under control.,

  66. irishlad wrote:

    Just received an email from young Bates; he assures me everything was,quote, in hand that night…

  67. CVH wrote:

    irishlad,

    #65 and #66 - you made me spit out my coffee…too funny

  68. BackwoodsPhilosopher wrote:

    #66: Irishlad…….Have you ever heard the old clip of Wendy Bagwell telling his story about visiting a snake-handling church? If you’ve never heard it, here it is…….this is a golden oldie!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFttCDdEKd8

    #64: Carl

    Of course, Tommy Bates is Pentecostal from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. He not only performs a song, he tells a story with it. It’s like a singing testimony. If you ever get the opportunity, you need to see him!!

    I saw the Maharreys for the first time several months ago and not only can they sing some good Bluegrass, the son Daniel Maharrey is an amazing talent on the acoustic guitar and the mandolin. We went back to see them later on, and this time, they had a young lady banjo player who was one of the best I’ve ever heard in my life.

    The nice thing about these folks is that they’re “for real”. No pretense, no ego…….just good ‘ole country folks. Here’s where Paul Maharrey was honored by the state of Alabama……and in reading this, I realized he was actually born in Mississippi.

    http://www.legislature.state.al.us/searchableInstruments/2005RS/Resolutions/HR703.htm

  69. Michael H. McIlwain wrote:

    #68, I remember seeing Daniel play when he was just a preschooler. I grew up one county across the river from St, Steohens Alabama, I remember that many people in our area who did not like bluegrass loved the Maharreys.

  70. irishlad wrote:

    68: Ah yes, the ’snake song’….i remember very well the early 70’s when as a young still wet behind the ears teenager waiting with baited breath for the latest American import arriving, trying to figure out which of the two girls was Wendy.

  71. Bones wrote:

    Ruffle feathers? Be careful don’t lose it.

  72. Andrew S. wrote:

    The MaHarreys - “Jesus Will Heal Your Achy, Breaky Heart”

    Same group mentioned above?

  73. BackwoodsPhilosopher wrote:

    #72 - Andrew S.

    Yes, that’s the same group, but their newer Bluegrass Gospel CD “Full Circle” is outstanding. On the CD is a great song, “Did You Forget God Today?” and another good one….. “Ahead of the Storm”. Also on the CD is “The Old Crossroads” and “Two Coats”.

    Plus, they’re the group who performed “Perfect World”. That’s a really good song - they didn’t write the song, but that song should have stayed near the top of the charts longer than it did. (Just my opinion)

  74. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    “Jesus Will Heal Your Achy Breaky Heart?” That’s just awful.

  75. Michael H. McIlwain wrote:

    Soli,
    I do agree that Achy Breaky was a pretty sad cover. However, I think that the group has moved on from that attempt to try and Christianize a popular country song from twenty years ago.

    I think that Christians need to be more persistent in trying to produce good original art that edifies and ministers to the hearers. Some other covers that were popular years ago were “I Believe in Jesus” (I Believe in Music-Mac Davis), The Impossible Dream, Climb Every Mountain, Real Good Feel Good Song, and Stand Up. Some of these were good inspirational songs while others seemed to be a reach in trying to Christianize the original song.

  76. sogoblog wrote:

    Just wanted everyone to know that I have a new blog at http://sogoblog.com. It is a learning process for me but come by and visit.

  77. Wade wrote:

    Everybody wants to do a blog these days???

  78. Andrew S. wrote:

    Soli- To make matters worse, the song actually charted in the SN Top 20. The song stands as the best example of the worst re-written Country song ever.

    Speaking of the song, does anyone have the original version?

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