Country Western Music Reveals Popular Christology

Lyrics and comments on the "Post-Modern" CW Song "It's All in Your Head"

Preliminary speculations by Sarah Victoria Lewis,
Berkeley, October 2003

Popular spirituality has often been a thorn in the flesh of sober Christianity. From the face of Jesus showing up on the sides of barns, or in the icing on cinnamon rolls, to medieval clamors, "weeping" icons and various devotional practices in the cults of saints, expressions of popular spirituality may seem like mere mockery of official tradition. Mainstream Christians and theologians often find themselves helpless to subdue such irritating expressions--even St Augustine could not stop his mother from making excursions to sites of martyrs, complete with devotions and picnic. (Only by appealing to Ambrose to intervene with Monica did Augustine achieve his objective.) However, despite serious theologians' scorn for popular spiritual practices, useful information about the underlying beliefs can be gained from considering these areas. In this paper, I will focus on the medium of Country Western music as a source that reveals Christological attitudes of a particular cultural sub-group in the United States.

One of the expressions of spirituality of this particular group is the writing and singing of songs about their faith which are not traditional hymns or religious music. C/W artists do write/ sing songs that are recognized as "church music" and may be found in hymnbooks and albums labeled as such. (E.g., "Hank Williams' Christmas Album.") But it is the kind of song that is sung in secular settings, sometimes hitting the top 40, that contains references to Jesus that are of interest here. I have selected some which show a certain kind of humor in addition to some which are more serious. This humor is of particular interest; it is unusual to find humor and faith together. I cannot think of any other music that deliberately combines the two.

This paper is offered with the intention of generating discussion, providing lyrics to some songs that are being discussed in various scholarly papers, and underlining the fact that these songs are indeed a rich source to be mined. I have not tried to compile a complete selection nor to reach conclusions about the entire genre. In the spirit of interactive education, I have made only a few preliminary comments on each song in order to allow the reader to exercise her or his own intellectual abilities of analysis.

You all know what country western music is--you're driving down a long empty stretch of road in the middle of Nebraska, or the California Central Valley, or some other rural area, and you turn on the radio for a little company to break the monotony. This is what you get--trucks, Mama, lonesome lives, drinkin,' cheatin' and one-night stands. CW touts itself as being the "Workin' man's music," and Nashville, Tennessee is its Mecca. Columbia Encyclopedia online tells us Country Western music is an American popular music form originating in the Southeast (country music) and the Southwest and West (western music). The two regional styles coalesced in the 1920s when recorded material became available in rural areas, and they were further consolidated after musicians from various sections met and mixed during service in World War II. The primary traditional difference between the two styles is that country music is simpler and uses fewer instruments, relying on guitar, fiddle, banjo, and harmonica, whereas the music of the Southwest tends toward steel guitars and big bands whose style verges on swing (e.g., The Light Crust Doughboys). Bluegrass, exemplified by Bill Monroe, is a style of country and western music distinguished by a driving, syncopated rhythm, high-pitched vocals, and an emphasis on the banjo, mandolin, and fiddle. Country and western music is directly descended from the folk songs, ballads, and popular songs of the English, Scottish, and Irish settlers of the U.S. southeastern seaboard. Its modern lyrics depict the emotions and experience of rural and (currently) urban poor whites; they often tell frankly of illicit love, crime, and prison life. Over the last 50 years country and western music has gained a nationwide audience. Since 1925 the "Grand Ole Opry," a Saturday night performance featuring country and western singers, has been broadcast weekly from Nashville, Tenn.

Many of the musicians have been influenced by African-American blues, and gospel music, but the performers and audience are almost all white. Leading performers include Hank Williams and his son, Jimmy Rodgers, Johnny Cash, Tex Ritter, June Carter-Cash, the Carter family, Chet Atkins, Patsy Cline, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Charley Pride, Charlie Rich, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson. In the 1960s and 70s, country and western music significantly influenced the development of rock music. Since then, it has undergone a national revival with performers such as Ricky Scaggs, Garth Brooks, the Judds, Tanya Tucker, and Reba McEntire achieving great popularity.

Country Western music reaches a large number of people, and thus reflects more of the country's mindset than we might want to think.

. . . Country has become the most popular radio format in America, reaching 77.3 million adults--almost 40 percent of the adult population--every week. Since 1989, country record sales have nearly doubled from $921 million to over $1.758 billion.

But enough of that ol' book learnin,' let's look at our first song: "Drop-kick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life." This was sung by Bobby Bare, and reached #17 in the U.S. Country charts in 1976. The style is an easy rhythm, highly singable. This song will be played at the meeting.

The following lyrics were found at the Cowpile.com website, along with the notes regarding legitimate usage of material.

Date: 1/6/98; 3:49:50 P

From: ah827@rgfn.epcc.Edu (Gene L. Graham)


#----------------------------------PLEASE NOTE---------------------------------#

This file is the author's [i.e., Gene L. Graham's] own work and 
represents their [sic] interpretation of the song. You may only use this 
file for private study, scholarship, or research. 


Recorded by Bobby Bare

Words and music by Paul Craft


[C] Dropkick me, Jesus, through the goal-[G7] posts of life
End over end, neither left nor to [C] right
Straight through the heart of them [C7] righteous up-[F] rights
Dropkick me, [C] Jesus, through the goal-[G7] posts of [C] life.

[C] Make me, Oh make me, Lord, more [G7] than I am
Make me a piece in Your master game [C] plan
Free from the earthly team-[C7] pestion be-[F] low
I've got the will, [C] Lord, if You [G7] got the [C] toe.


Bring on the brothers, who've gone on before
And all of the sisters, who've knocked on your door
All the departed, dear, loved ones of mine
Stick 'em up front in the offensive line.


TAG: Yea! [Start refrain and fade.....]

Comments: With football providing the basic metaphor, Jesus is portrayed as both leader (the strategist with a master game plan) and player--the one who kicks the ball for a field goal. This is a wonderful intertwining of prophet, priest and king. Jesus is on the field with us, able to be where we are, but also bringing divine revelation which will be revealed to his team, and with the power (athletic prowess) to provide the grace for the willing supplicant to attain the righteousness needed. The football's inability to kick itself emphasizes the need for grace and divine intervention, which Jesus is there to provide.

The importance of the Body of Christ is also brought in, this is not just a "me and Jesus" endeavor, but the communion of saints has a role. The salvation of one individual requires a team effort. This setting includes the concept of an opposing team--"the enemy."

There is, a certain ambiguity in the time factor here. The desire to go through the goal posts suggests the aim of achieving righteousness and a "holy death." But the idea of being part of the "master game plan" when "free from the earthly tempestion below" suggests activity in the after-life. The communion of saints, and their role in the "offensive line" may be for now, to protect the kick, to ensure no interference in the field goal, and/or for the master game plan that is for the time when they are free. Perhaps it is for both times.

This song shows a traditional view of Jesus' roles, packaged in a modern idiom that may be more accessible to many people than "prophet, priest, king." By including the communion of saints and thus the Body of Christ, the theology is extensive, and suggests a way to present traditional concepts in metaphors that will be easily grasped by certain groups.

This brief sketch has only scratched the surface, please continue to lift out the material. Those of you with knowledge of football may be able to extend this analysis considerably

Next Song

Lyricsheaven - Sawyer Brown lyrics

800 pound Jesus

I saw a garage sale 
Pulled up in the yard 
Found a statue of Jesus 
It was eight feet tall 
He held out his arms 
And he seemed all alone 
So I loaded him up 
And I drove him home 

Out by my driveway he 
Looks down the street 
With long hair and sandals made 
Of rebar and concrete 
I painted him white with a long purple robe 
He's a rock of ages on our gravel road 


He's an eight hundred pound Jesus 
Standing taller than a tree 
He's an eight hundred pound Jesus 
A bigger man than you or me 

I thought loosin' my job was 
The end of the world 
'Til my best pal ran off with my best girl 
I felt suicidal with no real friends 
So I walked outside with a rope in my hand 

Out by that statue there's a big oak tree 
So I stood on his shoulders 
And I counted to three 
I had every intention of buying the farm 
But when I jumped off 
He caught me in his arms [Repeat Chorus] 

I wanted to return the favor to him 
'Cause I never had a more solid friend 
So I planted some flowers 
All around his feet 
And I bought him a flock 
Of ceramic sheep.

[Repeat Chorus] 

He's a bigger man than you or me . [end]

Comments: The interplay of faith and whimsy is extraordinary here. An ordinary event--the garage sale--becomes an avenue for encounter with Christ. Jesus is a bigger than life statue, but is endowed with feeling. The singer is touched by Jesus' "aloneness" and buys him. "He looked for some to have pity on him, and there was no man." Jesus is revealed as "the man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief"-- the suffering servant of Isaiah. And because it is CW, the requisite truck is on hand to bring the statue home.

When the singer himself feels the "loneliness" that caps his inclination to kill himself, it is Jesus the redeemer, the Savior who intervenes. This is Jesus in his priestly role, having suffered with humanity in his own humanity, and he saves in his divinity. Jesus becomes the friend the man lacked as well as his savior.

That a flock of ceramic sheep would please a concrete Jesus is a kind of lunacy. The statue is invested with a life of its own, with feeling and power attributed to it, but doesn't break out of its physical limitations. Although it is credited with "saving power," that is not overdone. Nor is the wordplay and punning excessive.

The underlying gentle humor toward this 800 LB Jesus never veers into mockery, yet never backs off from treating the statue as a "real" being. Perhaps this is a modern variant on the age old paradox of the "fully human--fully God" formula. Here, it is "fully concrete--fully living saving Jesus." This song reached the Top 40 after 15 weeks, and was selected "Song of the Year" and "Video of the year" by the Contemporary Christian Musicians' Association in 2000.

Please carry on . . .

Next song (This will be played at the meeting also.)

Intro: G/G/G/G

The Jogger (Shel Silverstein) As sung by Bobby Bare 1983. Reached #29 in 
the charts.

G C 
Well, I've been a trucker now for 20 years, from the Charleston coast to the Jersey piers

An' sharin' the road with the race car nuts and loggers

Sunday drivers, scouts on hikes, Hells Angels on Harley bikes,

I never met a roader I didn't like, 'cept them . . . "joggers"

One day I'm rollin' down 101, I got 18 wheels and a 14-ton

Radio playin' a good ol' country rocker

The day was surely a trucker's dream, the sky was sunny and the air was clean

When up ahead on the road I seen one of them . . ."joggers."

He was dressed like they do in baby blue, with shortie shorts and a headband too.

I yelled "Sweetie, I bet that you are the hit of the men's room locker

Well I'm a runnin' late with an overload, 
	so get your Adidas off a this road 

I'm L.A. bound and I don't slow down for dead raccoons or joggers."

Well without breakin' stride or losin' poise, 
	he said "You and that rig sure make some noise, 

But I can't talk now, 'cause I'm racin' against the clocker

But it's just nine miles to Forkers Leap 
	and if you ain't afraid to race that heap

We'll see how that ol' rig holds up against a super jogger"

G C 
Race,? I must be hearin' wrong, 
	the boy's been runnin' in the sun too long

The only place he's a racin' to is a doctor 

But before I could say "Hey, thank ya, no", 
	that fool yells "Ready, get set, go"

And the race is on and we're off and gone; 
	me and that maniac jogger 

(Change to A Key)

I could've left him far behind 
	but I played with him like a fish on a line

And I stayed about a half a mile behind that sucker

Then I pushed her up to forty-five and he sees me comin' 
	and he starts to fly

So I kicked her to sixty and shift to high and finally catch that 
jogger, and it wasn't easy

Now I'm doin' eighty and I turned to check, 
	and he's stayin' right with me neck in neck

His hearts a thumpin' like my engine goin' poo poon pucker prooon!!

Then he yelled out, 
	"I hope you're set, cuz I ain't shifted into second yet"

Then he unwinds and leaves me behind, 
	eatin' the dust of a jogger

("Celestial music," angelic choirs begin) 
Then I see him a joggin' up into the sky and he yells, 
	"Hey, thanks for the exercise.

And I hope that losin' the race was not too shockin'

Ya see, my Dad says, 
	'Heaven's no place to run, I try to be an obedient son,

So I got to come down to earth to do my joggin' "

Well that's the story, take it or leave it, 
	my trucker buddies, they believe it.

So do them race car nuts and Harley hoggers

And I'm still drivin' much the same 
	'cept I don't call nobody names

E A 
And I tip my hat each time I pass one of them good old joggers.

Hey, there's one now

Hey, everybody hangin' in there?

. . ..ya' want some Gatorade?


An encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ brings about an "attitude adjustment." Jesus is presented in his humanity, engaged in a trendy Yuppie activity that is scorned by the "real man" trucker. Aspersions are cast on the jogger's masculinity, suggesting anti-homosexual tendencies in the driver. Jesus has identified himself with group that will not be received sympathetically in the milieu he has chosen (Highway 101).

When he finally identifies himself, he is the Risen Jesus, but one who is still obedient to his Father, and not above having a little fun with a contemptuous trucker. No reason is given for why jogging doesn't work in heaven--does anyone have a guess?--but he declares himself as still being an obedient Son. Is there a tinge of subordinationism here?

The whole encounter reveals Jesus in his humanity--likes jogging--and in his redeeming ability--his capacity to induce metanoia. As in the football metaphor, Jesus is placed in a role familiar to the audience--there as the MVP, here as representative of an unpopular group who turns the tables on the protagonist. This is certainly Jesus of the Scriptures, giving lessons to those who scorn his activities

Perhaps we see the beginning of a trend: whereas academics tend to put Jesus in roles of social reformer, liberator, teacher, CW singers tend to place him in the roles that speak to them. The next song certainly brings Jesus into a traditional CW setting.

#----------------------------------PLEASE NOTE---------------------------------#

This file is the author's own work and represents their interpretation 
of the song. You may only use this file for private study, scholarship, 
or research.


Date: 4/4/02; 6:09:37 PM>

From: "R. Matthew Poteat" 

Subject: chord submission

Jesus and Bartenders

Larry Cordell and Lonesome Standard Time, from their album, Murder on 
Music Row, 2000

The following is my interpretation of the material.

Jesus and Bartenders

Capo 1st fret

They both [E]know a man in trouble when they [A]see [E]one
They're both [A]willing to [E]listen when he [A]talks
[E]Anger and depression, [A]tearful con[E]fessions
[A]Jesus and bar[E]tenders hear it [A]all

[E]Jesus and bar[A]tenders hear it [E]all
[A]They hear things that men don't tell their [E]wives
[E]Sinful secrets [A]whiskey brings to [E]light
[A]One man offers comfort from the [E]cross
[E]The other only [A]comforts on the [E]rocks



[D]If you're at the [A]end of your [E]rope, 
[D]Either man will [A]serve you, but [B7]just one offers hope, but 


tabbed by Matthew Poteat, North Carolina

Comments: Jesus in His priestly role is equated with a comforting, non-judgmental persona. Jesus, familiar with people in trouble, and will listen to your fears and sorrows without condemnation.

A bartender is a role common to CW territory. Few of the working poor have met a Priest of Old Testament stature, but they purport to know bartenders. In the Ignatian exercises, retreatants are encouraged to speak to Jesus as a "servant to his master." If we encouraged people to speak to Jesus as they would to a bartender, might we get greater authenticity? Even for people who have never poured out their troubles to a bartenders, the stereotype might give enough of a background.

Again, Jesus is made accessible in ordinary terms. The hope and comfort he offers through the work of the cross is mentioned but not elaborated. It is taken for granted that the listener knows what is implied.

As with football, this is an area of life with which I am unfamiliar, and I hope some of you can extend the analysis.

next song

Collin Raye - "What If Jesus Comes Back Like That?" Lyrics and Tabs

Country Lyrics and Tabs Source #1

=A92000 www.cowboylyrics.com

All lyrics are property and copyright of their owners. 
All lyrics provided for educational purposes only.
Artist/Band: Collin Raye
Song: What If Jesus Comes Back Like That

Album: I Think About You

What If Jesus Comes Back Like That
He came to town on an old freight train
He jumped off in the puring rain
Everybody says he's insane
Just a low down account hobo

He made his bed beneath the county bridge
The town folks said that's not his
They signed a petition they're gonna get rid 
Of that white trash low down no count

What if Jesus comes back like that
On an old freight train in a hobo hat
Will we let him in or turn our back
What if Jesus comes back like that
Hey what if Jesus comes back like that

Born with a habit of drug abuse
She couldn't help what her mama used
It wasn't like she got to choose
Now she's layin' there all alone

Got a monkey on her back
Nurses say they never saw a smile like that
Doctor says she might stand a chance
If somebody takes her home

What if Jesus comes back like that
Two months early and hooked on crack
Will we let him in or turn our back
What if Jesus comes back like that
Oh what if Jesus comes back like that

Nobody said life is fair
We've all got a cross to bear
When it gets a little hard to care
Just think of Jesus hanging there

He came to town on a cold dark night
A single star was his only light
The baby born that silent night
A manger for his bed

What if Jesus comes back like that
Where will he find out hearts are at
Will he let us in or turn his back
Hey what if Jesus comes back like that

Yeh what if Jesus comes back like that
Will he cry when he sees where our hearts are at
Will he let us in or turn his back
Hey what if Jesus comes back like that
Oh what if Jesus comes back like that

Comments: Jesus' solidarity with the "least" of us is shown, plus an interesting slant on the Second Coming. This is not a Jesus coming back in wrath and glory to judge both the quick and the dead, but a Jesus coming in disguises that will bring about our condemnation more surely than we can imagine. And there is an uncertainty as to whether or not he will accept our hardness with pity or reject us.

Here, the traditional gender role is transcended--Jesus is equated as a girl, a premature crack baby--utterly frail and vulnerable in her humanity. This is an interesting step in this male-dominated genre.

Jesus is presented in his "despised and rejected by man" role first, then as the resurrected King Jesus, judging who will make the cut. Again, tradition wrapped in modern idiom.

Another view of the Second Coming is revealed in the next song:

COWPIE Song A Selected COWPIE Song

#----------------------------------PLEASE NOTE---------------------------------#

This file is the author's own work 
and represents their interpretation of the song. 
You may only use this file for private study, 
scholarship, or research. 


Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 00:09:51 -0700

From: Mike Speece 

Subject: Revelation by Waylon Jennings

I'm not sure I have the chords right but here is what I have...

"Revelation " by Waylon Jennings

Somewhere in Vietnam a 19 year old soldier 
	walked out of a (Am) barroom 
and he said I must be (C) seeing things, 
	that bourbon hit me like a base (G) ball (D) bat.
In Belfast Ireland a little lady dropped her shovel in her (Am) garden
she raced across the C yard 
	and asked her neighbor Mrs. Clancy, what G was D that?

In Memphis Tennessee a teacher raised the window 
	closest to the (Am) river
and the C children in her classroom swore 
	they heard a choir singing G down the D street.

In Washington DC a private secretaries lips began to Am quiver
	and the C president just put aside his papers 
	and rose quickly G to his D feet. 
I lay in a cheap motel in the arms of someone else's Am woman
when a C loud explosion rocked the room 
	and turned the morning G into D night.
I jumped out of bed and ran into the street 
	with hardly any Am clothes on 
as the sky lit up my C heart stood still 
	and I could feel my face was G turned to D white.
All at once the clouds rolled back and there stood Jesus Christ in all his Am glory 
and I realized the C saddest eyes I'd ever seen 
	were looking G straight at D me.

I guess I was awakened by the penetrating sound of my own Am screaming
and it didn't take me C long 
	to stumble out of bed and fall down G on my D knees.
as tears rolled down my face I cried 
	Dear Lord I'm thankful I was only (Am) dreaming 

and if I never go to C hell Lord 
	it'll be because you scared it G out of D me.

Comments: The humor of the last line (Jesus scaring the hell out of him) mitigates the intensity of what has preceded it. The song is highly scriptural, with people going about their ordinary activities when the Second Coming happens. Jesus does not look at our protagonist with anger, but with sorrow. King Jesus still identifies with sinful humanity, and has compassion and sorrow for sinners. But it is fear that evokes the repentance--again, quite traditional.

This next song has a great deal of ambivalence in it.



(Peter Berryman)

Do you nestle by my barstool
Makin' me so calm within
Have you touched me with your warmness
Or have I touched myself with gin?

Are you drinkin' with me Jesus
I can't see you very clear
If you're drinkin' with me Jesus
Won't you buy a friend a beer?

If you're omnipresent, Jesus
You don't have to use the phone
If you're always by my side, Lord
You need never drink alone

Do you teeter with me, Jesus
On my way home so forlorn
If you think that you feel bad now
Wait until tomorrow morn

Does your head pound with the masses
As hungover you do rise
What does heaven look like, Jesus
Seen through holy bloodshot eyes

Should we take a taxi, Jesus
Should we try to walk from here
I know you can walk on water
Can you walk on this much beer?

Copyright Lou & Peter Berryman

@drink @religion

filename[ DRNK_JES




Comments: I suspect the title is a take-off on the book title by Malcolm Boyd "Are you running with me Jesus?" Although Jesus is viewed in his (ultra)-humanity, there is an "edge" to this song, a note of hostility. The song starts with the singer wondering if Jesus is accompanying him, but moves to presenting a Jesus who gets drunk The bitterness shows in the lines "If you're omnipresent, . . . you need never drink alone" and " What does heaven look like, Jesus, seen through holy bloodshot eyes?"

Not only is Jesus not better than most humans, here he is worse than many--succumbing in fact to the old accusation that he was a "wine-bibber." Here, his solidarity with sinners leads to, or is because of his own failure to resist temptation. St. Paul would not approve, I fear, of this portrayal of Jesus. A little too much humanity, too little divinity.

I haven't heard the song, and the way it is sung would make a difference in the hearers' perception of the harshness of the words. To be done as rollicking and funny, or as dark and cold would significantly change the impact. I hope someone will have the time to listen to it and give us the report.

Date: 11/27/02; 2:40:18 AM>

From: "Garry Adu-Darko" 

Subject: "Doctor Jesus" by "Randy Travis"


Performed by: Randy Travis

Transcribed by: Garry Adu-DarkoComments: garryadudarko@hotmail.com

You know I've got so many problems 
D A A7 D
And lately I've been feelin' kinda down
I hear You're the one I should talk to
I hear You're the best healer around

D D7 G
Doctor Jesus, will you help me?
D A A7
Make me better, make me whole
D D7 G
Doctor Jesus Lord I need you
D A A7 D
To mend my heart and save my soul


There's so many out there who need you
D A A7 D
Do you think you could work me in
You see I'm in the worst of conditions
But mostly I just need me a friend


Comments: Jesus is here in his priestly role, the great physician. But the last line suggests the person does not really want to change--an attitude therapists everywhere excoriate--but just wants a friend. Many people who go into therapy want the therapist to be a friend who will "enable' them in their disability rather than challenge them to grow. (Yalom)

I think this is true of many of us who "accept Jesus." We want comfort and support, but denial of self, transformation and regeneration is more than we bargain for. Perhaps this view is too cynical?


Next song:

Artist/Band: Strait George

Song: I Found Jesus On The Jailhouse Floor

Album: Honkytonkville

There once was a time when I was dead inside
I cussed the Lord for the day I was born
And prayed to the Devil to die
Just when I thought the Devil had won
Someone opened up the door
The King of kings
Lord of lords
I found Jesus on the jailhouse floor

Now, he broke the chains that bound me, and now I'm free
Today I'm right where Mama
Prayed I'd be
I'm down on my knees
Now I believe
What Mama knew for sure
He's King of kings
Lord of lords
I found Jesus on the jailhouse floor

Now, if you're in trouble friend, let me tell you what to do
I'll tell you what he's done for me
And I know what he'll do for you
It makes no difference what you've done
You've a friend in the One that I adore
The King of kings
Lord of lords
I found Jesus on the jailhouse floor

Repeat Chorus

He's King of kings
Lord of lords
I found Jesus on the jailhouse floor

[ www.CowboyLyrics.com ] 

Comments: So beautifully traditional it seems archetypal. Jesus, mama, and jail. Jesus as redeemer, reaching out to those who are in need. Forgiveness, salvation, friendship, restoration, Jesus offers the full package. This song does not provide a new metaphor, but restates traditional concepts with the assumption that others will understand what Jesus will do for them.

Next song: Although there is not much about Jesus in this one, the song is of interest because of the theodicy question that is raised. The "achy, breaky heart" can question God's goodness as well as can a trained theologian.

Artist/Band: Brandt Paul

Song: Virgil And The Holy Ghost

Album: Small Towns and Big Dreams

Me and Virgil the best of friends
Brothers till the very end
Made a pact one sunny afternoon
Down by Cold Pepper Creek

Fishing holes and skipping rocks
down the railroad tracks we'd talk
'Bout girls and cars and hopes and dreams
The way our lives would be

And we swore we'd never change
We would always be the same

Virgil met the Holy Ghost
A little younger than most
at the Gilappi Pentecostal
Tent revival halter call

Everyone from town was there that day
When Virgil gave his soul away
They were praising as I waited
Outside the gospel hall

Where we swore we'd never change
But it would never be the same

Cause it was later on that year
The winter that our mama died
When I told Virgil I don't wanna hear
About love and peace inside

Cause if this God you know is good
How could He allow the pain
Life's been hard enough
So why would I want to be born again

The other night me and Virgil spoke
He travels with the holy ghost
Holding tent revivals
He's out to seek and save

Virgil says he's been set free
By Jesus dying on a tree
And I'm not sure what I believe
My questions still remain

Virgil says that when he prays
He asks the Lord that I'd be saved
I guess some things never change

=A92000 cowboylyrics.com

All lyrics are property and copyright of their owners. 

All lyrics provided for educational purposes only.

Comments: The Atoning Jesus is here, and the Holy Ghost. But the promise of the inner "peace that passeth understanding" is rejected. The person raises the perennial question that has been a challenge to religion: "how can a good God allow people to suffer?" I guess some things never change.


All lyrics are property and copyright of their owners. All lyrics 
provided for educational purposes only 

Artist/Band: Cash Johnny

Song: Personal Jesus

Album: American IV: The Man Comes Around

Your own, personal, Jesus
someone to hear your prayers,
someone who cares

Your own, personal, Jesus
someone to hear your prayers,
someone who's there

Feeling unknown
and you're all alone,
flesh and bone,

by the telephone,
lift up the receiver,
i'll make you a believer

Take second best,
put me to the test,
things on your chest,
you need to confess,
i will deliver,
you know i'm a forgiver

Reach out and touch faith
Reach out and touch faith

Your own, personal, Jesus
someone to hear your prayers,
someone who cares

Your own, personal, Jesus
someone to hear your prayers,
someone to care

Feeling unknown
and you're all alone,
flesh and bone,
by the telephone,

lift up the receiver,
i'll make you a believer
i will deliver,
you know i'm a forgiver

Reach out and touch faith
Reach out and touch faith
Reach out and touch faith
Reach out and touch faith

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[ More Cash Johnny Lyrics ] 

Comments: Jesus is available through the "stand-in," his representative who is "second best" but who will nevertheless make the unbeliever into a believer. The singer has taken on the attributes of the loving, caring Jesus, and has faith which he offers to share. Christology moves into the realm of Pneumatology--the development of Jesus' characteristics in the life of his followers through the in-dwelling Holy Spirit, and the continuation of Jesus' redeeming work through the converted. The singer is indeed "God's hands on earth," sharing his love and faith with others.


We see some trends: Jesus is placed in roles familiar to CW fans --bartender, trucker, football player, doctor, alcoholic. There is a strong emphasis on his humanity and willingness to participate in the human condition, but there is also emphasis on his saving power. Kingly Jesus will place the winning kick, has the master game plan, and the solid arms. He offers comfort and hope, and finally, brings judgment. The lyrics do not alter traditional Christology, but offer fresh imagery through which to understand the concepts. Individuals may find the alternative imagery enhances their ability to relate with Jesus.


"It's All In Your Head:" Post-Modern Country Western? 

"It's All in Your Head" by Diamond Rio, is treated in Maxine Grossman's article "Jesus, Mama, and the Constraints on Salvific Love in Contemporary Country Music" in the Journal of the AAR, March 2002, V 70 No. 1 pp 84 - 115. You can read her comments, or you can read the lyrics first and judge for yourself whether or not this song espouses a "Post-modern" view of religion.

Artist/Band: Diamond Rio Lyrics

Song Lyrics: It's All In Your Head (song) Lyrics

Album: Greatest Hits

Momma died young giving birth to a son
In a home for wayward girls
Daddy was sidewalk, soapbox preacher
Looking forward to the end of the world
Every Friday night he'd pick a Jesus fight
Down at the local pool hall

Racking up souls condemning all those
Caught behind the eight ball
He said I preach for the light - the light shows the way
Don't ever trust what the government say
We never walked on the moon
Elvis ain't dead
You ain't going crazy
It's all in your head

Lucy was a messed up, dressed up waitress
With a slightly tarnished heart of gold
She wasn't half bad for a new step momma
As far as step momma's go
Daddy knew she was the one as he baked in the sun
In a parking lot preaching the truth
Up shot her hand and she cried, oh, man
I feel it, yes, I feel it I do

It's been revealed to me down deep in my soul
There were two shooters on the grassy knoll
We never walked on the moon
Elvis ain't dead
You ain't going crazy
It's all in your head
Let us sing

It's all interpretation
To find the truth you gotta read between the lines
Work out your own salvation
That narrow path is hard to define
Heaven's more than a place
It's a state of mind

In his quest for truth
Daddy was moved by the spirit
To take up a snake
In a moment of doubt the venom turned out
Stronger than daddy's faith

But I'll never forget his dying breath
The last words that he said
We never walked on the moon
Elvis ain't dead
You ain't going crazy
It's all in your head
Let me tell ya

It's all interpretation
To find the truth you gotta read between the lines
Work out your own salvation
That narrow path is had to define
Heaven's more than a place
It's a state of mind
State of mind

Note: In the video of the song, the narrator of the song tries to commit suicide and ends up institutionalized in a strait jacket and unwilling/or unable to talk. (Grossman, Ft. 29, p101-102)

Comments: Grossman, pondering what she considers the anomalous popularity of this song, speculates perhaps people do not listen to the lyrics, or possibly they do not identify with the "fringe" preacher. and so the song is taken as merely "entertainment." (102) She goes on to state that the song "suggests that the discourse of country music--for all its conservatism--is actually remarkably open to new, unusual or controversial religious messages." (p102)

In his article "Post-Modernsim with a Twang: Has Post-modernism penetrated the world of country-and-western music?" C. Stephen Evans writes he was inclined at first to interpret the song as a shocking acceptance of post-modernism by a "group of good ole boys from Nashville" and . . . images of Tammy Wynette and George Jones struggling to comprehend Derrida rocketed wildly thought my head. Had Lacan replaced the Bible and hard living as the source of country lyrics? Surely, I thought, if there is a world where the old verities are secure, it is the world of country-and-western music, a world where cheating always beings heartbreak, boozing leads to losing, and prisoners mournfully contemplate their just punishment for their crimes. Yet there it was "It's all interpretation. To find the truth you gotta read between the lines."

A second hearing of the song made him doubt his first interpretation. So despite the fact the song ends with the preacher's words, Evans ends his article with a question mark.

I argue this song is anti post-modernism. Grossman should have gone further with her speculation that the preacher is seen as "other" (p102) This song is a morality tale that depicts in lurid images what happens to those who believe "It's all in your head" . . . "Heaven is a state of mind."

Namely: yore poor mama will be seduced, abandoned and die in shame and ignominy before her time, your daddy will get snake-bit and die (in agony), and, as shown in the video, you, the hapless child, will end up crazy and non-functional. This is a warning. "Don't go down this path!" it proclaims. It re-enforces the conservative view

The symbolism of death by snake-bite provides associations to "That Old Serpent." Here, as in Genesis, the deceiver's message is: you can be like God by rejecting the voice of authority and deciding for yourself what is truth or lie. ("Surely you will not die... but you will be like gods." Gen. 3:3, 4)

Like Eve, who also bought that package, this man is no match for "the old serpent." He has been deceived by that subtle creature, and preaches all sorts of lies. Because he fell for the deception, the destruction of his family and his own death is inevitable. That it results from the serpent's bite makes it clear he is not a follower or believer in Jesus: "These signs will accompany them that believe: they will pick up poisonous snakes and not die." (Mark 16:16, 17). Far from being a Christian, he set himself up as his own God: a demonic action.

The song shows you what will happen to you if you choose to be your own God, and it ain't good.

Far from being open to "new or controversial religious messages," far from proclaiming the post-modern view "It's all interpretation," this song re-iterates the message of that old favorite: "Broadminded."


www.Cowboy Lyrics.com

This file is the author's own work and represents their interpretation 
of the song. You may only use this file for private study, scholarship, 
or research.

From: Lunarcreek 


Performer: The Louvin Brothers
Words and music: Ira Louvin/Charles Louvin) recorded 9/30/52
Ira Louvin vocals, mandolin 
Charlie Louvin vocals, guitar
Chet Atkins electric guitar 
Eddie Hill (probably) rhythm guitar
Floyd T. "Lightning" Chance bass



That word broadminded is spelled s-i-n
I read in my Bible, they shall not enter in.
For Jesus will answer, Depart, I never knew you
That word broadminded is spelled s-i-n

Some people say they gamble now and then for pleasure
And drink a little whiskey just to please a friend
They say it's really nothing, you've got to be broadminded
That word in my Bible is spelled "s-i-n". Chor.

That broadminded mother goes out and joins a party
There's nothing wrong in drinking and dancing with a friend
And then on Sunday morning, she'll say she loves her savior
She should be begging God to forgive her of her sin. Chor.

[spoken, preached]

For to be carnally minded is death
But to be spiritually minded is life and peace
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God 
For it is not subject to the law of God
Neither, indeed, can be.
You'll find your word "broadminded" means sin if you'll read. Chor.

Comments: "Broadminded" does not deal with the same kind of "broadmindedness" or specific sin that "It's all in your head" treats. But the principle is the same: making one's interpretation and decisions about what constitutes acceptable behavior and belief without following the Biblical norms will lead to disaster.


An extensive bibliography for Country and Western and its impact on 
religion can be found at www.geocities.com/College 
Park9414/thesisbiblio.html Tara Tuttle May 2002

A quick review of "Christology"
Traditionally. Christology has considered The Person, work and office of the Christ. Person, his humanity and his divinity in a unique combination of the two aspects. He is the human incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity: The Son. His Work includes his preaching, teaching, healing, deliverance, and redeeming/atoning. In the context of Office we see him as prophet, priest, king. Prophet -- revealer of divine truth, Priest--the redeemer, the intermediary who atones for, and remits human sin and thus restoring communion between humans and God; King, in His resurrection glory, he bestows the Holy Spirit on his followers, commissions them to continue his work, while he himself reigns at God's right hand.

As prophet, he teaches us, guides us. As Priest, He changes his divine attributes into human so we can become divine (a la Irenaeus). He unreservedly comes to us where we are so he can redeem us (Schliermacher). As King, He comes in Glory to judge the world.