Anyone who knows me knows that I love music of all kinds; from Zeppelin to Zao, from the Dead to the Dead Kennedys, from the Chieftains to Creedence (I could go on and bore you to tears, I know). I grew up, however, listening to and loving country music. I don’t mean the Shania Twain/Tim McGraw knock-off country, I’m talking about Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, Loretta Lynn, real country. Two country artists whose shadows loom over my upbringing and are still favourites of mine: Johnny Cash (who in my opinion transcends all genres) and Hank Williams.
Needless to say, I am thrilled that Russell Moore, dean of the school of theology at Southern Seminary, has started a new podcast called “The Cross and the Jukebox.” And I’m even more thrilled that his first two episodes deal with–you guessed it–Hank Williams and Johnny Cash! I’ve listened to the one on Williams, where Moore takes listeners through a fascinating exegesis of the country legend’s “I Saw The Light.” I had no idea that the background to the composing of the lyrics was so non-spiritual, the song has always given me chills, but now there is a sad gravitas that accompanies my listening of it. I’m about to listen to the one on Cash and “Ring of Fire.”
I’ve long appreciated Moore’s weaving in his love of country music with his discussions of theology and culture; in particular his piece on Johnny Cash for Touchstone entitled, “Real Hard Cash.” So this podcast should be good (to prove to you my love of Cash, the decision to name our son Jackson was in large part influenced by our love of the song by Cash of the same name). What I like about the podcasts is Moore’s decision to tackle a particular song rather than an artist. This gives him time to go deep into important artifacts of our culture (i.e. the music) and he can return to particular artists again and again. I hope he devotes some time in later podcasts to a number of Cash’s “American Recordings” albums.
So, if you have any taste (meaning, you love real country music), then check out what Moore has to say. Thoughtful stuff thus far! I hope he does an episode on Hazel Dickens in the near future!