Alex Massie

Saturday Morning Country: Gillian Welch & Gospel

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You can't have a country music series without acknowledging the contribution church music has made to the genre. The thing about the gospel music that sprang from the this topsoil of the Appalachian mountains is that, for, or rather because of, all its desperation, there remains an essential glimmer of hope that, in the next world at least, things will be better and more comfortably arranged than they are in this. It's the contrast between the fatalism of the present and the promise of the future that gives it a mighty, if mournful, punch.

And one of the most famous of these hymns is "I'll Fly Away" which has been recorded by Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Randy Travis and a host of others. It also featured in the soundtrack to Oh Brother, Where Art Thou. Anyway, here's Gillian Welch (of whom more in the future) and her partner David Rawlings singing off on a BBC Four Session with this classic:

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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