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Lecture 5

MUS 365 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Jaroslav Pelikan, Chet Flippo, Revised Standard Version

Course Code
MUS 365
Benjamin Ordaz

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Betrayal, Murder, and Prison
Part 4
Following historian Jaroslav Pelikan, religious doctrine will be defined as what is
believed, taught and confessed formally, informally, and through religious expression
such as music
Here, religious doctrine is in part the religious impulse in these albums that was
identified by and commented upon by many of Willie’s fans, critics, and fellow musicians
Religious doctrine is also a convenient basket in which to gather items that otherwise
would have to be described more loosely as religious ideas, philosophical beliefs, and
unvarnished opinion
Nelson’s daughter, Susie, wrote that “For some people, going to one of Dad’s concerts is
like a religious experience”
Many fans have written about and have been interviewed on the very real religious
influence of Nelson’s music and performances
Nelson wrote that after the release of his concept album “Red Headed Stranger” there
were people showing up at the reach who thought I could lay hands on them and heal
their crippled limbs
Rolling Stone music critic Paul Nelson voiced sentiments in an initial review of the album
that would be echoed by many critics since that “I can’t remember when a record has
taken such a hold of me”
Another Rolling Stone critic, Ed Ward, wrote after a live San Francisco performance of
Willie and his band in 1976 where about half of the “Red Headed Stranger” album was
played along with other standards, that it “left the audience amazed and in a Texas
Monthly review of “Red Headed Stranger,” Chet Flippo wrote that “Listeners with a
sense of whimsy may want to file this record, this Willie Nelson Version, next to the King
James of Revised Standard Version
Willie was “sprinkled in the Methodist Church baptized as a child, and later “dunked
or fully submerged, as an adult Baptist
He considered at one point becoming a preacher, yet left all organized religion behind
after being let go as a Baptist church musician and Sunday school teacher for performing
in the honky tonks of Fort Worth to pay the bills
o Even though he saw many from the church there on Saturday nights
What was never left behind, though, was the gospel music that he learned and loved as
a child and has performed all of his life
To this day, as anyone who has attended one of his concerts knows, Willie often ends
his shows with gospel standards such as Precious Memories” or “Amazing Grace”
He and his sister Bobbie, who has played piano in his band for years, attended gospel
sings as children at the Methodist Church in their hometown of Abbott, Texas
They traveled with their grandfather to Hillsboro for Wednesday night gospel sings that
featured quartets published by the Stamps Gospel Music Company, one of the top
publishers of white gospel music that was sung and recorded by their famous house
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