It used to be called country and western music. So what happened to western music? I remember Eddy Arnold (Cattle Call) and Marty Robbins (El Paso) especially. I guess this is considered quaint or campy these days. Gene Autry, the singin’ cowboy. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. And the Sons of the Pioneers. Cool Water, Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds. Three and four part harmony. Now you’re talkin’. I miss it.
The problem is nobody wants Westerns anymore. Or that’s what they want us to believe. Anyway Westerns are few and far between these days. All we get now are doctors, lawyers, and cops and robbers. Twenty years of Law and Order or twenty years of Gunsmoke. Which would you rather have? I think I’ll take Gunsmoke.
So back to three and four part harmony. (I’m stuffing a lot into this post but it’s on my mind.)
Back in the mid-seventies:
We went to a choir workshop in Dallas. We had one day at Six Flags included. The Imperials were there doing a concert and we went to it. I didn’t know much about gospel music or what they call Southern Gospel. I didn’t know what to expect. I was blown away. The Imperials had been around for a long time in various configurations. They had been what you would call a traditional gospel quartet but they had changed with the times. They had kept the best of the old and added the best of the new. They had horns. They had woodwinds. They had drums. They had one of those newfangled electronic keyboards. Heck they may have even had (the horror) electric guitars. They could do something approaching rock. They could do country. And they could do it all in perfect four part harmony. And at the end of the concert they had a short message and an alter call. The Holy Spirit was in the whole thing.
I have heard others talk about hearing and seeing the Imperials of those days what it meant to them, people who realized that they didn’t have to put their Les Paul guitar and amplifier away when they got saved. People who understood that the Holy Spirit could take anything the world had to offer and hijack for His purposes.