The last Louvin brother dies

The Louvin Brothers brought their close, tight harmonies from the world of Gospel music into country and then into early rock ‘n’ roll and today’s pop music.  Their sound can be heard in the Everly Brothers, the Beatles, and on and on.

Charlie Louvin, 83, the country singer and Grand Old Opry performer who, as half of the duo The Louvin Brothers, influenced such later performers as the Everly Brothers died at his home in Warface, Tenn. from complications of pancreatic cancer.

The Louvin Brothers songs were later covered by such diverse performers as Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello and the Byrds,

The brothers were renown for both gospel songs and so-called heart songs and tearjerkers such as “If I Could Only Win Your Love,” later recorded by Emmylou Harris.

They also updated many traditional — and very morbid — folk songs such as “In The Pines” and “Knoxville Girl” which were both included on their 1956 early concept album for Capitol, “The Tragic Songs of Life.”

The Louvin Brothers’ style evolved from the popular close harmony brother duos of the 1930s such as the Delmore Brothers, the Monroe Brothers and the Blue Sky Boys (Jim and Earl Bolick).

While the duo preserved the singing style of the earlier groups, they made it popular for 1950s audiences by adding electric guitar solos, many by a young Chet Atkins, and a driving beat from an upright bass. Ira Louvin’s mandolin work also gave the duo a connection to the then evolving bluegrass genre.

After the duo disbanded in 1963, Mr. Louvin continued to record as a soloist and was a regular on the Grand Ole Opry into the next decade including a number one hit in 1966, “See The Big Man Cry. ” Mr. Louvin’s brother Ira had a much shorter solo career. He died in a car accident while touring in 1965.

As interest in the early Louvin Brothers material increased, Mr. Louvin had a recent resurgence in activity with performances at rock clubs and bluegrass festivals.

via Post Mortem – Charlie Louvin dies; country singer inspired Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello.

The thing is, I met Charlie Louvin.  He took me and a friend of mine, Tom Wilmeth–who wrote a book about the Louvin Brothers and who turned me on to this kind of music–back stage of the Grand Ol’ Opry.  Here I also met  Bill Monroe and hung out in his dressing room.   I watched the curtains rise from the performer’s point of view for the second show.  This was a highlight of my musical experience, one of those odd and  interesting things I’ve managed to do in the course of my life.

Here is a video of a performance.  Their songs, including their Gospel music, were generally dark.  This one is a little different.  Charlie is the short one.  (If you don’t see the video on your browser, hit “comments” and you should.)

UPDATE:  Their vocal influence was to harmonize with two tenor voices, just a few notes apart, rather than the usual high voice with lower voices.   Their kind of harmony can be heard in the Everly Brothers, the Beatles, the Byrds, etc., etc., etc.

{httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWp7MGY3II4}

They thought she was Jewish

Earlier I had blogged about how my former colleague Kristine Luken, a Christian missionary in Israel, was murdered.  Her killers have been arrested:

Four Palestinian men have been indicted in the stabbing death of American woman Kristine Luken who the suspects say was killed because they thought she was Jewish.

Luken, 44, was a Christian missionary working in Israel.

Four more Palestinians, all from the West Bank, have been arrested for providing logistical support to the alleged killers, but have yet to be indicted.

Luken was stabbed to death while hiking in a forest outside Jerusalem with a friend, Kaye Susan Wilson, Dec. 17, 2010.

Israeli police tell ABC News they arrested two men who confessed to the murder within 48 hours of the attack, but kept the arrests secret because they realized that more suspects were involved, and that the group was responsible for a wave of violent crimes.

“The cell’s activity had an initial criminal orientation,” Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said. But after the killing of Hamas leader El Mabhouh in Dubai, for which Hamas holds Israel responsible, “the cell decides to kill in revenge for [that],” Rosenfeld said.

El Mabhouh was a senior Hamas military commander. He was assassinated Jan. 10, 2010, shortly after checking into a five-star hotel in Dubai under a fake name. No one has been arrested in the killing.

The indictment states that two suspects, Kifah Ghneimat and Iyad Fatafa, “decided to enter Israel illegally in order to kill Jews.”

In a forest inside Israel but adjacent to the West Bank they encountered Luken and Wilson. Wilson “tried to convince them they were not Jewish, in order to convince them not to hurt them,” according to the indictment, but one of the suspects grasped at a Star of David necklace around her neck, saying, “What’s this?”

The suspects then stabbed both women repeatedly, killing Luken, according to the indictment. Wilson, badly wounded, played dead, eventually reaching another group of hikers before she collapsed and was taken to a hospital with multiple stab wounds in her chest.

via Palestinians Charged With Murder of American Kristine Luken – ABC News.

Actually, Kristine at least WAS Jewish.   She was a Jewish convert to Christianity.

Patrick Henry College in the news

I work at Patrick Henry College, where I am a literature professor and the provost, in charge of both the academic program and student life.  Once again, we won the national moot court championship (in which teams of two argue a case against another team before a panel of judges in a pretend-appeals court hearing).  Virtually all of these winners, including the amazing Harris brothers, are or have been my students, and I’m very proud of them:

Building on an increasingly formidable legacy of success in collegiate legal debate, Patrick Henry College traveled to New Orleans, January 14-15, and brought home the College’s fifth national moot court championship in the past seven years. The victory at the ACMA 2011 National tournament at Tulane University Law School was PHC’s third championship in a row, eclipsing the only other time an ACMA competitor has won back-to-back championships—PHC itself, in 2005 and 2006, when the College won its first two national titles.

First place this past weekend went to the College’s already high-profile team of Alex and Brett Harris, best-selling authors of Do Hard Things and co-founders of The Rebelution.com, competing in their first year of formal collegiate moot court. The Harris brothers defeated the team of Willem Daniel and Rachel Shonebarger from the College of Wooster, PHC’s stiff perennial competition at nationals. . . .

Third place went to Jonathan Carden and Joanna Griffith, who, interestingly, beat the Harris brothers in the qualifying regional tournament in Tampa, Florida. Two other PHC teams, Blake Meadows and Kayla Griesemer and Bridget Degnan and Tate Deems, made it to the “Sweet Sixteen” quarterfinals, the latter duo losing to the eventual second-place team from the College of Wooster. . . .

Another PHC tournament highlight was the outstanding individual orator performances of freshman Blake Meadows and junior Bridget Degnan, who won first and third place speaking trophies, respectively. Meadows won the top speaker trophy with a record-breaking 396.83 points out of a potential 400 points, while Degnan also broke the previous record with 386 points.

via Patrick Henry College.

And yet this news on our campus yesterday was somewhat overshadowed in the public eye by the further news that the 2011 Miss America, Teresa Scanlan, is one of our recently-admitted applicants and will be attending here once her “reign” is over.  (Our web site got 25,000 hits, once Miss Scanlan, or I should say Miss America, told reporters after her coronation that she was coming here.)

Other epiphanies

In light of the definition of “epiphanies” in the post of that name, what are some epiphanies that you have had? An epiphany is an experience that conveys an idea, a conviction. It is not merely an experience but is rather a moment of realization, usually provoked by some personal and sometimes very subtle event.

For example, I remember when I was in college, coming home from the weekend and going to my father’s farm (a hobby with him, we not being farmers). He had planted some strawberries and I picked one and put it in my mouth. It was delicious, in its sweetness and tartness and texture a taste of perfection. And it flashed on my mind that this external world is somehow aligned with me. Existence is not absurd or random or meaningless, as I had been taught in some of my college courses. It had a meaning. I didn’t particularly know what it was at the time, but eating that strawberry was an epiphany for me.

When I was in Estonia while it was still a part of the Soviet Union, I had an economic epiphany when I changed $20 of hard currency and received an engineer’s monthly wages in rubles in return, only to go into a shop to find nothing for sale. It hit me then that free enterprise economics is far superior to a socialist command economy, nudging me away from the liberalism of my birth. I also had a political epiphany there, shaking hands with a poet who had just gotten out of a mental hospital where he had been consigned for years for writing a poem criticizing Communism. I realized then the power of writing and the utter evil of totalitarianism.

I wonder if our beliefs are shaped more by our epiphanies than abstract arguments. At any rate, now it’s your turn. What are some epiphanies when the light, of various kinds, dawned on you?

A serious Christmas

We’ve been shaken by the death of our former colleague Kristine Luken. I’ve known lots of people who have died–by disease, by accidents–but I can’t think of anyone I’ve known who has been murdered. And as a missionary at the hands of terrorists of whatever variety. Also strange has been the “international incident” dimension, so that I’m reading about this in newspapers from all over the world.

Now we’ve learned that the father-in-law of my brother Jimmy (who has been making appearances on this blog) is dying of cancer. He’s in the hospital in critical condition and probably won’t make it to Christmas. I didn’t really know him, but I’m sad for my sister-in-law and the whole family. (Please pray for them in this hour of extremity and need.)

And yet, all this bad news by no means is taking away the joy of Christmas. It is just making my feelings more complex. The combination of soberness and joy is fitting, maybe making my Christmas more meaningful than usual. The tinsel sentimentality and nostalgia are stripped away, and I am reminded more powerfully why the Christ child came, to deliver us from precisely these maladies that are troubling me; namely, sin and death.

So I wish you a merry Christmas. Also, a serious Christmas, such as the one that I am having, only without the tragedies.

Someone I know has been martyred!

That American tourist who was murdered in Israel–I knew her!  Kristine Luken.  She worked for Patrick Henry College for awhile, helping us with accreditation issues.  (She had previously worked for the Department of Education as a liason with colleges.)  She became friends with my wife.  A Jewish convert to Christianity, Kristine began to feel a strong calling to go to England to work with a ministry there involved with evangelizing Jews.  That was surely a calling to her martyrdom.

Kristine was gentle, sensitive, and extremely devout.  One account I read said that police were investigating if she had any sinister dealings of any kind, and I can assure them that she most certainly did not.  I’d stake my life on that.

The first assumption was that she was killed by Muslim terrorists, but I’m not so sure.  Judging from the detail about the Star of David necklace, recounted by another woman who survived the attack, I’m thinking it sounds like the two assailants might have been Jewish radicals who attacked her for evangelizing Jews.  At any rate, I have no doubt that she was murdered for her Christian faith.

And I have no doubt she has joined this number:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Revelation 6:9-11)

American Tourist Kristine Luken Killed in Israel, No Arrests Made, Say Police – Crimesider – CBS News.


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