Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Gospel Music

One of the pitfalls of moving to a different country is that words often mean something different to what you think they mean. A trolley is a form of transport that runs on rails down the street, rather than something you put your shopping in. That's a cart. Which doesn't carry as much of a connotation of "horse and" as it does in the UK. And I was recently gently informed that "jugs" more usually refer to a part of the female anatomy than to something you put milk in. I will have to get used to saying "pitcher". Isn't that what you hang on a wall?

After a few years here, we are mostly au fait with the local lingo, and manage to turn up at the right place and avoid offending the natives. However, on Friday night, Graham found out that there was a gospel music concert going on at a local church. Our Americanism detector did not light up, and the predominant picture in both our heads was something like this:



Big choir, bright colours, high-energy songs. Dancing, swaying, drum-playing fun, right? Isn't that gospel music?

Um, maybe. But not Southern gospel music.



Southern gospel music involves four men in dark suits singing in close harmony about trusting in Jesus. Think barbershop quartet meets old-style revival meeting. If you close your eyes it's very easy to imagine yourself in a crowded tent with sawdust on the floor, being exhorted to repent of your sins by a fire and brimstone preacher. Wikipedia informs me that southern gospel started around 1910, and it looked as if some of the audience in the concert might have been in at the beginning. We were noticeable for not having grey hair and a walking stick.

This is not, you understand, to say that it was bad music. When there's just three or four of you singing, each of you has to be good, and some of these people were very good (a lot better than the group in the video). But there was a certain repetitiveness about the subject matter and musical style that grated on the nerves after a few hours. And yes, it was a few hours. Two and a half, to be exact. Non-stop gospel music. When they sang "God bless the USA" and the entire audience stood up with their hands in the air we thought surely it must be over, but it turned out that there were another two groups to go. Finally it ended with a song about heaven, written, improbably enough, while getting a sausage and egg biscuit at a drive-through.

No, the American meaning of biscuit. Think scone. And sausage isn't quite the same either. But your mental image of egg is probably about right.

2 comments:

John Evens said...

This is hilarious, I can't believe you stayed for the whole thing!

Martha White said...

The first few acts weren't actually too bad... and then we kept thinking it had to be over soon, so we stayed just one more act... and then one more... one more...