Modern Country Music's Greatest Vocalist Witnesses for the Lord on the Job
Yes, Randy Travis's second "gospel" album goes down easier than
Elvis Presley's oversung Ultimate Gospel. But when songs
entitled "That's Jesus" and "When Mama Prayed" are no sharper than you
fear, Nashville is wasting the greatest vocal gift in country music.
Compensating are "Save the Fish," a jocular argument against total
immersion, and "Three Wooden Crosses," an award-winning parable or
parody about a farmer, a teacher, a preacher, and a hooker (guess
which one lives, and raises a preacher of her own). There's also a
tour de force fervently recommended to every adoptive parent: "Raise
Him Up," in which the guy who marries the unwed mother turns into
Joseph, who in turn gives way to Jesus's "real dad," that specialist
in raising sons up. Unfortunately, there's a touch of evil too, and I
don't even mean "Everywhere We Go," an anti-"they" defense of the Ten
Commandments in public education and the right of workers to witness
for the Lord on the job (who's stopping them?). I mean "Jerusalem's
Cry," in which an embattled Israel and general conflagration in the
Middle East are welcomed as signs that we've reached "the end times."
He uses the very term, and make no mistake--of all Christianity's bad
ideas, the notion that the world is coming to an end best serves Osama
bin Laden and Karl Rove.
Rise and Shine
Great talent, Randy Travis. But also a dupe--or an enemy.
Village Voice, Sept. 28, 2004