‘The Prod­i­cal Son’ avoids gospel mes­sage

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - RELIGION / COMMUNITY - Tracey Evi­son, a mu­si­cian and ed­u­ca­tor on P.E.I., writes this col­umn for The Guardian ev­ery sec­ond Satur­day. She can be con­tacted by email at trevo­rand­tracey@pei. sym­pa­tico.ca.

Ry Cooder is 71-year-old jazz/R & B artist.

He re­cently re­leased an al­bum, “The Prodi­gal Son,” from Perro Verde Records that was pro­duced by Cooder and his son, Joachim Cooder.

My first thought upon hear­ing the ti­tle was that Mr. Cooder had an epiphany and was declar­ing his faith in Christ. This was not the case.

Cooder tells it like so in a Los An­ge­les Times in­ter­view: “The gospel mu­sic has a nice way of mak­ing these sug­ges­tions about em­pa­thy .... It’s a nice mu­si­cal way of sug­gest­ing that, of re­mind­ing peo­ple of that…. Plus, I like the songs, I have to ad­mit. They’re nice songs. Pretty. Beau­ti­ful chords, great melodies, for sure.”

A na­tive of Santa Mon­ica, Calif., Cooder has been in the mu­sic busi­ness for al­most 50 years. This al­bum has been hailed as hav­ing an “all-Amer­i­can” feel. Cooder was aim­ing to find a mix of black gospel and white gospel church mu­sic and, I have to say, I hon­estly think he has failed in that par­tic­u­lar goal.

In the many styles of church mu­sic, I have heard, they all have one thing in com­mon - the artist has a heart the gospel mes­sage. This is not the case with “The Prodi­gal Son.”

Cooder is un­doubt­edly a tal­ented mu­si­cian. The mu­sic on “The Prodi­gal Son” is very pro­fes­sional and dis­plays tremen­dous tal­ent. The in­stru­men­ta­tion of gui­tar, banjo, man­dolin and per­cus­sion alone makes this al­bum worth a lis­ten, but it lacks the heart for the gospel that would make the lyrics ring true.

That is not to say, of course, that some of the mu­sic does not con­tain truth. But, by and large, this al­bum is empty of any­thing that re­sem­bles the gospel. The ti­tle track ex­em­pli­fies this, “I wan­dered into a tav­ern where a mu­sic band was playin’ .... I asked….is this a new teach­ing/ she said there is no God but God, and Ralph Mooney is his name…. but just as long as you sit there on the band­stand and play your gui­tar like Bud­dha, I’ll be glad…. dim lights, thick smoke, and loud, loud mu­sic is the only kind of truth I’ll ever un­der­stand.”

“You Must Un­load” is an in­ter­est­ing com­men­tary on ‘fash­ion-lov­ing Chris­tians’ and ‘money-lov­ing Chris­tians’ who ‘must, you must un­load.’ I can’t say I dis­agree with Cooder’s state­ment on this one. Like­wise, “No­body’s Fault but Mine” speaks a par­tial truth, “I got a Bi­ble in my home...if I don’t read my soul will be lost/ no­body’s fault but mine.” And, “I’ll be rested when the roll is called” sounds fun but lacks the cel­e­bra­tion that would be in­te­grated from artists who truly be­lieved what they were singing.

So, if you are a fan of Ry Cooder, or love unique jazz/ R&B tracks, “The Prodi­gal Son” may be an en­joy­able lis­ten for you. If, how­ever, you were hop­ing to find a gospel mes­sage, “The Prodi­gal Son” is not your best choice.

Tracey Evi­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.