Lamont Jack Pearley
The Gospel According to The Blues is a book I not only read, but interviewed the author. This topic is very dear to me because I believe the Gospel and The Blues are one and the same. And according to Gary Burnett, he belies the same as well.
The Gospel According to the Blues dares us to read Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in conversation with Robert Johnson, Son House, and Muddy Waters. It suggests that thinking about the blues-the history, the artists, the songs-provides good stimulation for thinking about the Christian gospel. Both are about a world gone wrong, about injustice, about the human condition, and both are about hope for a better world. In this book, Gary Burnett probes both the gospel and the history of the blues as we find it in the Sermon on the Mount, to help us understand better the nature of the good news which Jesus preached, and its relevance and challenge to us.
When it comes to the Blues, and the Gospel…names like Son House, Blind Willie Jefferson and The Rev. Gary Davis come to mind. But if you dig deep, you will see, like Rhythm and Blues, most Blues singers came out of the church. And to go even deeper, the culture and heritage of the Blues begin right where the culture, heritage and practices of the scripture was birthed on this land.
If you remove the differences of the New Negro, The House Negro and the missionaries that visited plantations, and just think about the music, culture and lyrics of the Blues, you will see the direct connection to the traditions of spirituality that traveled here with the “Slave” or prisoners of war.
To quote Amiri Baraka in his historic text book, or Bible of African American history and music, Blues People, ” Because the African came form an intensely religious culture, a society where religion was a daily, minute to minute concern, and not something relegated to a specious once-a-week reaffirmation, he had to find other methods of worshiping gods when his white captors declared that he could no longer worship in the old ways” —
To me that is evidence that Africans arrived here with their own sense of God, worship and spirituality. And that sense of spirituality carried over to the new world, America, African continued their traditional worship and day to day through song. Birthing Spirituals and Work songs.
To quote another passage from Amiri Baraka – “And just as the lyrics of the African songs were usually as important or more important than the music, …” and ” It was, and is, inconceivable in the African culture to make a separation between music, dancing, song, the artifact and man’s life or his worship of his God…”
Those are two very compelling statements. It expresses, to me, the fact that if one is of African decent, Hebrew Decent, Ethiopian decent etc….it is in our DNA, or generational culture to express life’s elements and the relationship and worship of God through song and everyday life.
Which leads me to believe, the Gospel is us talking about God, and the Blues is us talking to God about our day to day interactions…some right some wrong, some that just down right hurts. It also leads me to believe that the Blues, the culture, the heritage…the way of life started long before the plantation and sharecroppers shacks.
I’ll share in further detail in the next post~
Until then Keep Bluesn’