What I wish southern gospel did more of
This … From a recent episode of the television show, Smash:
I hadn’t intended to post on this since it’s already made the rounds over at DBM’s site, but watching that Josh Lesomething kid on AI last night, I was reminded of this clip (which really should have included more of the first guy) and so I spirited it away on email to a friend and then got into a subsequent discussion with said friend about the clip … and well … here we are.
As my friend put in email:
If only southern gospel could deliver the gospel like that.
I think he was speaking in generalities (he’s the founding member of his own personal Singing Cookes and Gaither Fanboy club, so it’s not like he’s a gospel hater). But I take his point. No, really. I’m actually taking his point: I wish southern gospel did more of this.
By this I don’t mean necessarily the style of music here (though more of this style would be fine with me). One of the central points of my book, as well as this recent article, among other things I’ve written, is that “gospel” is not really a specific style. Rather, it’s a way of being musically, psychospiritually.
And so much of southern gospel just doesn’t have this way-of-beingness (see Quartet Convention comma the National … on any given night).
Part of the problem is that the relative cheapness of band tracks has made a singer songwriter out of every group, even though the number of bonafide actual sing-the-glory-down songwriters in southern gospel is not much more than it’s ever been. The only thing that’s increased is the number of plastic, uninspired and uninspiring songs that are the mercantile equivalent of what you go to the Dollar Store to find. We’ve talked about this before.
In turn, this relatively low cost to point-of-entry into “the industry” has effected a shift in the center of aspirational energy in southern gospel. We’ve talked about this too: Lots of people out giggin’ on the road in southern gospel are more interested in the
delusion idea of themselves as a “pro” than on making music that manages to bring that great gettin’ up morning right down here among us.
This is, I gather, what folks mean when talk about southern gospel as a bidness full of folks who like the threadbare, hand-me-down, pass-along, down-in-the-teeth, gimp-along-money-suckin-1976-Silver-Eagle trappings of success than musical success itself. Less wordily, it’s the difference between being a performer and an artist. And finally, of course, the fairly permissive tastes of southern gospel audiences means there’s very little weeding out. Southern gospel fans are just as happy - nay, happier, much of the time - with delusional performers than expert artists.
There’s nothing to do about this, of course. It simply must be accepted whilst we wait for something good to come along and break up the benumbing mediocrity. But for me at least, when the good does come along, it’s still good enough to wait for, so that, even if I can’t stand the rest of it, I just try to stand.Email this Post