"Time for Peace is Now: Gospel Music About Us" LP

Let us just suppose, for a moment, that you are a person with a day job of some kind, let’s say one like mine – I write books and am a university professor – or one like yours, whatever it might be. Butcher, baker, social worker, tire-regroover – or let us say you work in a bank, or robbing banks. Perhaps you even work in a church; maybe you’re the janitor, or perhaps even the pastor of a church. It doesn’t matter. What if one day you woke up with a message burning through you, like a piece of mental lightning, one that went beyond the brain, to electrify your senses, and pulse in your limbs. Perhaps it felt as though this electrical message ran straight from your ears and your throat, so that you found yourself humming with it, subvocalizing. As though this electrified message wanted to come out of you and find its way into the world.
And now let us pretend you know where there is a recording studio. And you - or maybe the person who runs the recording studio, – happens to know a relaxed local musician with a really funky, laid-back guitar sound, a person who likes to sit in and might even help arrange this message of yours into a song. Maybe this guitarist is a ‘ringer’ who played in a real soul band once upon a time before turning into a guy who repairs cars, or sits on his porch and yells at passing cars that drive too fast. Or maybe it is the soundboard operator who is the ringer. He makes innumerable tiny suggestions, perhaps helps you shorten a line of your lyric, which you scribbled on a paper placemat down at the burger joint last night because suddenly the thinking was just flowing out of you. And your teenage cousins, they harmonize on the sidewalk together on all kinds of songs they hear on the radio – why not bring them in to sing backup? Whatever the circumstances, you find yourself there, and the time is right and you just sing your ever-loving heart out, even with the band faltering or blowing clams. Then, on the third or the fifteenth take the band really hears what it all means and they light up and play like they’re part of your electrical system, like they’re the band you heard in your brain the day this message first announced itself to you… and then they even surprise you and catch you up in the groove, double-timing it on the fade-out, getting a little funky…
…and for that one day, in that studio, you make a tiny piece of immortality, for anyone who might be bothered to notice.
Music as permanently strong and meaningful of this doesn’t come from nowhere – it comes from the opposite of nowhere. It comes from individual inspiration, yes, but individual inspiration fired and forged and upheld by community, tradition, and context. Some of these songs are made by mysterious persons who remain hidden from view; some by working musicians who moved from occasion to occasion and circumstance to circumstance. In either case, the creators in question left behind the particular piece of amazement collected here as a testament of one moment of synchronicity. Nobody just opens up their talent and bathes the listener in beauty such as this without, at some level, a lifetime’s preparation. The music on this compilation didn’t come from nowhere, and now, it has refused to be accept nowhere as its destination – it has arrived on this compilation to claim its place in your awareness, to change the world at last, or again.
These songs are resplendent with love and yet are not love songs, not in the sense of man-addressing-woman, or woman-addressing-man. The material here speaks of life and death, care and disrepair, exultation and release, sorrow and pain, and exhort the listener to hold on, seek peace, let light shine, know joy, recognize the love in one’s fellows – nearly every ecstasy excluding the erotic variants is on offer here. All this music fits naturally into a context of people trying to speak to other people about the condition of being alive, and the fact that the emotions are universal and collective ones doesn’t make them any less intimate, passionate or devastating.

—Jonathan A. Lethem
released September 13, 2019
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