Each Monday I will describe and perhaps recommend an album or artist that has been important to me.
My granddaddy Herman Thomas was an old school fundamentalist southern Baptist preacher. For most of my growing up years he was the pastor at Providence Baptist in Gaffney, SC, and then after a short retirement in Lattimore, he ended up shepherding a small country church back in Gaffney. The kind with the singin’ that isn’t exactly beautiful, but had its own unique beauty. Kinda like the public access church shows that I get sucked into watching once in a while.
My daddy went to seminary in Kentucky for a few years, back when the “liberals had taken over”, but never finished up his degree because they came back to Boiling Springs when my mom’s dad got sick–I never did get to meet Earl. But even though my dad didn’t end up in the official ministry, he would always have the Oak Ridge Boys or the Kingsmen or the Gaithers blaring on his shop record player. I grew up listening to this gospel music..
We’ve seen the Avett Brothers a few times (Red Rocks and a NYE shows) and it’s always a treat when their dad, Jim, comes out and sings a few selections. We’ve heard him play George Strait and a few other tunes, but most of the time he’ll mix in an old gospel song. This past virtual NYE show, Seth and Scott played Stand by Me (not the Ben E. King version) which caused me to look for it on Apple Music. The Elvis version, as is true of many gospel songs, is probably the finest, but to my great delight I found an album called Jim Avett and Family, and I haven’t stopped listening to it in weeks.
I’m not much for fundamentalist theology these days, but the music is meaningful to me in a variety of ways. Also, I suspect the Avetts aren’t much for that kind of thinking either. Regardless, the versions of It’s Me, and Just a Little Talk with Jesus, Stand by Me, and especially Learning to Lean have made their way into many of my playlists and shuffles. And I get to sangin’ real loud with them!