Releasing May 2018:
On Episode 38 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast, we talk to University of Oslo historian Randall Stephens about his new book The Devil’s Music: How Christians Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock ‘n’ Roll. Randall talks about his new book and I reflect on my own experiences at the intersection of evangelicalism and rock music. The episode will drop next weekend.
In the meantime, head over the the website of Harvard University Press and listen to a Spotify playlist of songs and artists that Stephens considers in The Devil’s Music. It includes music by Sam Cooke, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley & the Comets, The Beatles, Cliff Richard, Larry Norman, Phil Keaggy, Andre Crouch, Sha Na Na, Bill Gaither Trio, Bob Dylan, Amy Grant, Keith Green, DeGarmo & Key, Michael W. Smith, Stryper, DC Talk, and Sufjan Stevens.
And if you are a Randall Stephens fan, don’t forget to check out “The Randall Stephens Collection.”
Otis Redding. Booker T and the M.G.s. Eddie Floyd. Isaac Hayes. The Staples Sisters. What do all of these classic soul and R&B artists have in common? Stax Records. As he toured the history of the Civil Rights Movement this summer, host John Fea included a stop at the Stax Museum (@StaxMemphis) in Memphis, Tennessee. Eager to relive the experience and share such attractions as a floor-to-ceiling record room and Isaac Hayes’s gold-plated Cadillac, Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling are joined by the museum’s executive director, Jeff Kollath. They discuss the importance of that “Memphis Sound” for the city as well as creating a “usable past” with popular music history.
Walter Becker, RIP
Jacey Fortin of The New York Times reports on a history course at the University of Tennessee focused on the life and times of country singer Dolly Parton. The course is taught by historian Lynn Sacco, author of Unspeakable: Father-Daughter Incest in American History.
Check out Sacco’s course website here.
Here is a taste of the course description:
History honors students look at how a “hillbilly” girl from Appalachia grew up to become an international one-word sensation. The course pulls students in to study someone they thought they already knew and familiarizes them with analyzing popular culture as a historical source. Reading about how hillbillies and feuds began as made-up characters and tropes in novels and cartoons to the rise of hillbilly music to Christian entertainment and the thread of tourism, students see the processes by which fiction often becomes fact, and how heritage is a blend of the real and the imagined.
Here is a taste of Fortin’s article:
According to Dr. Sacco’s syllabus, the seminar looks at a history of the 20th century not from the vantage point of elites, but through the eyes of Ms. Parton, “a poor white girl born in midcentury Appalachia.”
It has a wealth of reading materials, including Ms. Parton’s own 1994 book, “Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business,” and a slew of contemporary articles from periodicals such as The Tennessee Magazine, The Knoxville News Sentinel and The New York Times. Their topics range from child labor in the early 20th century to the Kennedy-era Appalachian Regional Commission and modern economic anxiety in the region.
Read the rest here.
Amy Lee has an amazing voice:
Check it out here. Don’t let the lyrics get in the way of the groove.
Believe it or not, I was just introduced (by my daughters) to these songs earlier this week while watching the Oscars:
Springsteen turned to disco to open his last show on the Australia tour: