Sanctifying Music, Sex & Death: Remembering Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye

April 2 1984, if I remember correctly, was a cool, crisp Spring morning. waiting for school to begin, students regularly waited in the quad area and just outside the athletic fields on benches waiting for the bell to ring for school to start. This morning was different though, the night before, Marvin Gaye was killed by his father in Los Angeles, the news made its way through school, and a pall was cast over James A. Garfield Sr. High School in East LA.  Marvin, you see, was one of our musical … [Read more...]

The Seeker King by Gary Tillery–A Review

ElvisDorsey2

Gary Tillery’s The Seeker King: A Spiritual Biography of Elvis Presley, published by Quest Books (an imprint of the Theosophical Society), presents the King as a life-long seeker, making a case that Elvis was more involved in seeking mystical wisdom from sources as diverse as the Self Realization Fellowship (already a well-known part of Elvis’s religious seeking, see Peter Guaralick’s exhaustive 2-volume biography of Elvis.) To Elvis lore, Tillery adds that Elvis also sought solace in the writi … [Read more...]

Nostalgia is the enemy of history–except when it’s not

Mandela

There are those rare moments of confluence--when history, nostalgia and a child's curiosity all conspire to ensure that my digging into my 80s musical treasures will be for not.My daughter, a precocious 11-year old told me a few days ago she wants to know what the 80s were like? I ignore the obvious feeling that I am OLD, and gleefully prepare Spotify lists hoping she will listen. Making mixed-tapes, the prerogative of every angsty teen was a speciality of mine--I took to making my daughter … [Read more...]

Remembering Elvis…and the Pentecostal War on Rock n Roll

ElvisGraceland

This is the anniversary of The King's death.  I've been to Graceland, and I must say that aside from the garishness of it all, it was moving to see the reverence folks have for him.  Most people know that Elvis had a religious background, and even recorded some pretty good gospel albums, what most do not know was that Elvis was a member of the Assemblies of God, and in his youth, was even an Ambassador for Christ--the Assemblies' youth ministry. In fixing up a long awaited chapter I am working o … [Read more...]

Journeys Through Pentecostal Subcultures: Sacred Steel pt 1

Sacred Steel

Today we're continuing to look at Pentecostal music on our summer journey.  This tradition is called sacred steel. Here's a sample of this exhilarating music--hope you enjoy this and the next few weeks installments!Sacred Steel is used mostly in the African American Pentecostal Church and is its own unique brand of American Folk Music--whether for worship or other types of performance, it is one of the most energetic and remarkable contributions to Pentecostal music history. It, like much of … [Read more...]


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