Endings and Beginnings…

christmas cleanup

And so the cleanup begins…

2012 was a memorable year in so many respects.  A fortieth anniversary trip to England and France.  Celebration with the kids on “the day” and at Christmas.  Graduations. Recovery.  The passing of several friends and relatives.  Various canine crises.  Events at times wonderful and at times devastating around the globe.

But it’s a new year… and I hope that 2013 will bring an abundance of joy to you and yours.

Back here at The Musings I’ve decided to start a project which will, I hope, take me through much of the year… with ample detours (I’m sure) along the way.  And it is the result of the convergence of several things which occurred during the holidays.

First, Patrick (our middle son) sent me a song which he thought I might find interesting… we had been talking about The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack which featured Whitney Houston.  The song he sent was from a 1971 album by Pastor T.L. Barrett and the Youth for Christ Choir (Chicago)- Like a Ship… (Without a Sail).  Here’s the song, courtesy of Youtube

And I have to admit

a) I’d never heard the song before  (b) that I found it very “catchy” (read earworm) and (c) I was reminded of Andrae Crouch and his contemporaries and their influence on popular and gospel music.

Pat (who is something of an expert on the subject of obscure popular music) explained that this album (obscure indeed at the time of its release) has become something of a cult classic in the past several years.  Well, that got me thinking…

And then I happened to see a recorded live performance by Andrae Crouch in Los Angeles on PBS over the holidays.  Coincidence?

To top it off, I purchased a turntable over the holidays (indirectly a gift from my wife) and suddenly our many records gathering dust in the basement became valuable again… I brought a few albums upstairs and listened to some songs that I hadn’t played in thirty (even forty!) years.  Thinking again…

Two of the numerous albums I acquired in my youth are by The Edwin Hawkins Singers.  The choir (as you might guess… under the leadership of Edwin Hawkins) gained fame in 1969 with their version of Oh Happy Day.  The song (which in some form dates back over three hundred years) was originally recorded live in 1967 but received wide release two years later.  It rose to #4 on the U.S. charts and #2 in Britain and garnered a Grammy for the group that same year.  Interestingly, the Hawkins family and the Crouch twins (Andrae and Sandra) have a long shared history in their musical careers (Tramaine Hawkins performed in Crouch’s group, Andrae Crouch and the Disciples, in the early 1970’s) .  I came across this live performance of the song on Youtube and it reflects (I think) the original recording quite faithfully.

Interesting to note that the song was influencial not only in bringing gospel into the pop music realm but also inspired the composition of such diverse performers as George Harrison (My Sweet Lord) and Nick Cave (Deanna).

The Edwin Hawkins Singers... their first album.

The Edwin Hawkins Singers… their first album.

So… what’s the plan?  Well, now that I have a working turntable and can turn an album track (or single) into an mp3 format, I thought I’d dig out some of the old tunes, choose individual (obscure?) songs which did not gain the kind of attention they might have deserved at the time and post them here… and I’ll try to explain context/history/what attracted me to the selected song.

My first selection doesn’t require me to convert anything.  The popularity of Oh Happy Day may have drawn adolescents (like me) to purchase the album… but I soon developed a “soft spot” for the title track- Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord.  In fact I have used the song occasionally myself as an opener to a worship service… however, I hadn’t played it in a while so my musical demonstration is a bit rough around the edges… nonetheless, here it is…

Now the reason I don’t need to convert is that I found the song (albeit a re-recording of the original by the group) on Youtube and the arrangement is substantially the same.

So… that’s the plan!  When Youtube hasn’t beaten me to it, I will convert and upload some (I hope) interesting and obscure songs from my collection (with explanation) in the coming posts.  And, for the record (yes, record), this post contains two for the price of one… Like a Ship and Let Us Go.

p.s. For the purists among you (who like their vinyl scratches), someone else uploaded the original recording of Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord.  Compare if you dare…

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