By Julie Denice Griffin
A little known time period in folk singer, Bob Dylan’s life left his critics both confused and outraged. From about 1979 – 1981 his gospel tour – left some fans saying, I’ll come back when he returns. But singing songs like Slow Train Coming and Saved kept Dylan on course for that time. And with people like Fred Tackett on guitar, some surprised others in the rock and roll world – Even claimed that people deserve to hear good Christian music.
Writing lyrics about the lies of prejudice and staying drunk in fear, “Let there be no peace until he returns,” sings the protest singer doing it now with Jesus instead. “This was not an exploration of the gospel format,” explained one of his friends, claiming that Dylan had an actual experience finding Jesus Christ and salvation. This very excellent collection of film footage – And interviews with some older black gospel groups and scores of the songs – Most of the divides of churches used for outreach and witness gospel.
The songs, naked with wide open expression, according to another friend: “He knew your needs before you asked – How long can you falsify and fake what is real?” He had announced at the time that he was a born-again Christian. “I aint gonna work on Maggie’s farm anymore,” he said, despite public scream and outrage. On the other hand, the group Solid Rock equaled the Sounds of Blackness they supported. Sometimes you just have to start working on a person’s bibliography with or without them. Since, even if they’re stubborn when you started writing, let them tremble alone and privately work out the salvation they proclaim, while you get some real writing done.
The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan – And some very exclusive clips of style combined with gospel clips opens up the stage for lyrics with honesty and humility. “You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side,” but still even you can turn to Jesus, the female gospel singer promises. The parliament of the gospel and the message delivered daily changed lives. This did not lead the singers to separate the lives they lived for Christ from their singing. Dylan’s impact on small towns and churches of deep faith and traditional gospel roots weaven and meander throughout his discovey of the Christ – Although seemingly kept very unpromoted at the time, reaped miles of the telling anyway.
One of the black gospel artists deeply espoused the fact that when we all get to heaven – “We’re gonna be shoutin’ and singing!” “There is no difference in our color or our creed – It’s just about God.” One artist who once sang backup for 60’s soul pop rock now marches to a different drummer. She sings a different tune. “They don’t want me around because I believe in you.” She sings out that they show her to the door and say don’t come back no more. “Because I don’t be like they like me to be.” In other words, since they can’t change, create, mold or make her into their own image – They don’t want her around them. She, already accepted in the heavenly beloved in God’s image for her no longer cares what evil they think anymore. She sings what she believes and she does not dash back to ask for more of their abuse. This is because, in the mornings after for her, the feelings of loving Jesus never fade.
As she sings, “Though my friends forsake me” – She had continued to balance herself in Christ and ever believe in Him even in spite of the false plans of the wicked. Gary Hines, Choir Director, Sounds of Darkness and Joe Ligon of the Mighty Clouds of Joy, said Dylan wrestled through though the people considered his gospel songs autobiographical. Although a mention of a higher power is made. There is only one higher power – They must mean to say God, or they just don’t know. According to Great Day Chorale, it was quite a surprise – “As it was to me.” He (Dylan) recieved a lot of criticism and persecution – Even Jews For Jesus and the atheist lobby woman, Madame O’Hara picketed his change of music genre.
“Jesus loves your old songs too,” claimed protestors. Whether a media mojo or a drastic note on Dylan’s guilt for leaving his original style, a rhetoric appeared as Helen Bayor – R & B singer – Who opened for established fame like Aretha Franklin. The movie filmed a couple hundred clips of weaved bits and pieces of cliche’ as well. “Get busy in your own church.” The main narrator said that music speaks to everyone and that everyone’s experience with it is different.
“Soon as a man is born, the sparks begin to fly,” he gets filled with pride and unless he finds Jesus, he has nothing left but to die. The filming of the recording of “What Can I Do For You?” Fades out into this. She was hooked on drugs and cocaine, living in North Hollywood, and living with her drug dealer. She got saved when she called her grandmother who said she had been praying for her for help. That’s how she got started.
Next, we take a short trip to By Faith Church in Chicago. And the daughter of the late (then) Reverand Sam Mclary, his daughter talks about growing up singing gospel music and shaking the dust from your feet. The Muscle Shoals Sound Studios advocates pressing on to the higher calling of the Lord. They say also that the negro spiritial is different from the gospel. Blues, bluegrass and gospel and some influence from of all people: Little Richard inspired some of the film clips.
The climax of the documentary film plot about Dylan’s Jesus music tour transpired with, “In the garden, did we know what transpired?” Then there was the Fairfield tour and Isaac Freeman. All of it really makes you think and wonder. “Have I surrendered to the will of God, or am I still acting the boss?”