After three Sundays of Aretha, let’s listen to her father.
Reverend C. L. Franklin (1915-1984; Pastor, New Bethel Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan, 1946-1979), “The Old Ship Of Zion”
Want more? Here.
[Growing up in the Mississippi Delta, C. L. Franklin] listened to all sorts of music. Even though his family was very poor, they owned a stand up Victrola. He loved listening to Roosevelt Sykes, and he listened to other blues singers. He also listened to a preacher out of Atlanta, J. M. Gates, who ultimately recorded an enormous number of three minute sermons in the twenties and thirties. . . .
The social pattern surrounding the use of the Victrola was very interesting. It was not unusual for the people who didn’t own a Victrola to buy the records and bring them to the home of a friend who did. It became another way of socializing. Even in very strict religious households, children were allowed to listen to music as long as they didn’t dance or cross their legs. They listened to the blues as well as recorded hymns and sermons. B.B. King tells the story about how, as a child, there was no distinction between Saturday night and Sunday morning—that the same people who were at the juke joints were in church pews on Sunday morning. . . .
King said that whenever he was in Detroit, no matter how late he was up on Saturday night playing a gig, he was in the first row at New Bethel Baptist—C. L. Franklin’s church—at 10:45 Sunday morning. He called Reverend Franklin ‘my main preacher.’—Nick Salvatore (author of Singing in a Strange Land: C. L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America )
The “Chicago” issue of Granta arrived in the mail this week, and it looks awfully promising. Let’s see: Don DeLillo (on Nelson Algren), Aleksander Hemon (on [I think] playing soccer in the city’s parks), Thom Jones (on working at a General Mills factory in West Chicago), Richard Powers (on the Great Flood of 1992), etc. Oh, and there are some stunning photos, too—not of the city’s grand historic architecture, but of Cabrini Green and the Robert Taylor Homes and the Henry Horner Homes. (A shout-out to my brother Don for tipping me off to this issue.)