Sunday, January 3, 2010
Lomax-a-Day, Day 3
My pick for Day 3, "Satan's Kingdom," comes out of the North, in the "Shouters and Shakers" section. (Days 1 and 2 also came out of the North, from "Yankee Soldiers and Sailors" and "Old Colony Times," respectively.) The songs in this section are mostly old shape-note hymns--church songs written with shapes to signal musical notes so that evangelist composers could share their music with the untrained countrymen of new America. "Satan's Kingdom" is a typically fiery anthem, pitting good Christians in a war against "Hell's dark king." I love the power that this song gives to song itself. Voices topple prison walls, cities, whole kingdoms. It speaks to the moral force of congregational singing in early America: the hymn isn't just about the power of God, the hymn IS the power of God. Hundreds of voices in harmony prove the interconnectivity of life, the strength of moral community. I would love to hear this song with full four-part shape-note harmony, but since I'm trying to keep these recordings simple--as in one track, no overdubs--I had to let my electric guitar and distortion pedal do some of the shouting. Enjoy!