Thursday, January 08, 2009

Hosanna, Heysanna, or: Sufjan, why?

Beautiful music on the radio today: a group called The Welcome Wagon warbling heart-warmingly wonderful tunes -- amongst them a truly charming cover version of The Smith's "Half a Person" -- that involve chanting and clapping, clever rhythmic shifts and breaks and a highly effective use of the Sousaphone (or some such wind instrument). The whole caboodle comes dressed in Sufjan Stevens' own special wall of sound (but then again, he produced the album -- which might mean that the Sousaphone is actually a French Horn) and therefore just.sounds.nice.

So where's the problem, you ask. Just go buy the album!

The problem is: The Welcome Wagon is a Christian folk band staffed by the Presbyterian Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique, and when they're not pilfering depressive ditties from Morrissey they sing about Jesus and fountains full of blood.

Please check for yourselves and tell me whether this is music a discerning atheist may listen to without fear of losing her or his mind (or credentials).


J. Carter Wood said...

To paraphrase the atheist bus: There probably is no God. So stop worrying and enjoy the music.

Besides, how could we not love a band that sings about a fountain full of blood?

Kris said...

Just keep listening. I'll be damned if atheism with stop me enjoying Sam Cooke, Johnny Cash or whomever it is warbling about doG!

mikeovswinton said...

Check out the Kirk Franklin cover/tribute version of "September" by EWF on youtube for an intro to the biggest thing in gospel. A fantsatic live performer an some of his CDs are well worth a spin. I'm not a Christian, but if you are into African American music you simply cannot sweep the gospel roots under the carpet. Incidentally, if you like blood metaphors, the other big thing in gospel, Fred Hammond and RFC (Radical for Christ) do a lot of stuff on those lines. ("It was the Blood" is the title of one, if I remember correctly.) Another awesome live performer. Loudest thing I've ever heard, pace all the rock drivel in the Grauniad this am. I think you'll find Franklin and Hammond together on "My desire" on youtube. You might not like the religion but the music is funky.

mikeovswinton said...

Yes, if you put 'kirk franklin fred hammond "my Desire"' into youtube, you get that song. Put 'Kirk Franklin september' in and you'll find Kirk Franklin's version of the EWF classic (Put in 'Chicago Earth Wind and Fire 25 or 6 to 4' and you get both bands together on stage doing that song - seriously funky). The comments below the September video are worth reading for their insight into how the African American church is still grappling with the secular/religious music issue all these years after the Sam/Dale Cooke affair.