Sunday, March 13, 2005

R.I.P. George Scott

I got into some gospel via a couple of things. The first was a weird fun liberal-arts college class called "Greek Drama in Modern Performance" I took my first year in college (which was 1991, if you're counting), where we listened to a production of Oedipus at Colonus called "Gospel at Colonus" that included performances by the Blind Boys of Alabama. I think the first time I had heard gospel that I recognized as a specific sound was connected to "spirituals" in the soundtrack for "Eyes on the Prize" when it came out. But something about the arrangements in "Oedipus/Gospel", and perhaps the odd re-fitting created by the greek play (like a mashup in the best possible way?), really hit me, cradled me, shook me.

Anyway I also borrowed and played to death a CD simply called "The Gospel Sound" which is the best compilation I ever heard - Blind Willie Johnson, Mahalia Jackson, Golden Gate Quartet (who I always meant to feature in a mix, but Kid K beat me to it), Dixie Hummingbirds, and more.

As is obvious, I'm in no way an expert. There's a particular sound that speaks to me, and I know it when I hear it, but that's as far as it goes. Low-fi - a similar vibe perhaps to 1960s ska - gets into my heartstrings somehow. In high school, Billy Bragg (along wth early ska), and more recently Manu Chao, got me in a similar.

but I owe a lot to the sound of the Five Blind Boys, and now its founding member, George Scott, is dead. Rest in Peace.

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