I like to think of myself as pretty musically eclectic: it’s not so much that I like one category of music or another, but rather that I like the good stuff. Which leads to lots of pockets of music that appeal to me throughout the entire space of music.
There are areas I’ve kind of shied away from for one reason or another until, almost without fail, the universe comes along to point out to me that I’m being an ignorant ass and missing some of the good stuff.
One such area for me historically has been the gospel/spiritual area–probably because as a cocky atheist, I don’t generally have a lot of use for songs with a lot of deep religious conviction in them. I’ve had my nose rubbed in the fact that there are some great, great songs that arise from or embrace religious traditions and sincere belief enough over the years that I think I’m pretty open-minded about it now. I certainly don’t need to share the beliefs to enjoy the good music, and letting that stuff get in the way of enjoying the good stuff is just being silly.
Even so, gospel/spiritual stuff is a relatively small part of what I listen to regularly. There are only so many times I can listen to Curtis Mayfield in any given week.
This week, though, some pretty spiritual stuff has been in heavy rotation. I can’t seem to stop myself from just hitting play over and over. It’s kind of weird feeling.
Play these two tracks while you read the rest of this–and play them loud!
I think it was actually Penguin Eggs that started this off. There was a short profile of the group in the latest issue, which was enough to raise my interest a little–the connection to Jim Byrnes also piqued my interest; I’ve enjoyed his blues albums over the years1. Then in the reviews section the trio’s second album was reviewed, and the review started off with these words:
“Joy is seldom something that can be purchased but this second release from Vancouver’s Sojourners comes close. The combined talents of Ron Small, Will Sanders and Marcus Mosely have the soulful firepower to bring mere mortals to their knees…”
It doesn’t exactly get less enthusiastic as it continues, either. Joy being something that I could always do with a little more of, I was now interested enough to remember to Google the band when next I was at my computer.
That was enough to get me to their web site and take a poke around. The music page there has a couple of MP3 tracks to tease–the first one I have up above, and their rendition of People Get Ready (which is pretty damn awesome). That was enough to sell me, and I ordered both of their discs–yeah, I still do that2–pretty much immediately.
Since they arrived, late last week, they (along with the new Byrnes CD, which they appear on) have been in heavy rotation. I just keep hitting play. (I know this isn’t going to win me any points with the cool kids downtown–and by the way, that one song at the club on Friday night sounded like a damn fire alarm3–but I’m old enough now that I don’t have to care about that anymore.)
There’s actually quite a breadth of styles and emotions across these two discs–the songs above are meant to be representative samples, but they only define a small part of the area these tracks cover. I’m liking it all–every one of these tracks is infused with something wonderful. I don’t know if I’d say “joy”–some of the songs are beautiful renditions of things that aren’t joyful, although I guess there’s a kind of joy in turning sorrow into beauty, but there’s something magical going on here. The kind of something that happens when you get people who have been doing what they love for a long time (according to the bio page “each member of the group has been in the music business for around fifty years”), and who have both the passion to sustain that kind of long-term interest and the craft that comes with that kind of experience, and find a synergy between them.
I don’t know if you’ll have the same reaction I did (and do), but me… I’ll be over here, hitting play.
- Although I admit I first bought them out of Wiseguy and Highlander related curiosity, they’re pretty good discs, and I keep buying more.(back)
- ..and then I rip them, and put the discs in the big “keeping these until it’s time rerip everything lossless” box(back)
- “Hey, you kids. Get off my lawn!”(back)