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The Bible in American Life$
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Philip Goff, Arthur Farnsley, and Peter Thuesen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190468910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190468910.001.0001

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The Soul’s Train

The Soul’s Train

the bible and southern folk and popular music

(p.127) 11 The Soul’s Train
The Bible in American Life

Paul Harvey

Oxford University Press

For much of the twentieth century, if southern churches slumbered in “cultural captivity,” southern culture held the nation captive, as people responded to the elemental force of its blues, country, and gospel music, its evocation of the most fundamental emotions of human life, and its literary grapplings with the most profound questions of race and American history. This essay briefly explores how the most violent and inequitable region of the country produced forms of religious music that transformed popular culture internationally. It explores how the Bible was translated in American folk and popular music emanating from the American South from the spirituals to soul and, more recently, “Americana.” The biblically literalist culture of the American South both inspired and ultimately was overcome by the spectacularly imaginative readings given to biblical passages by southern musicians.

Keywords:   blues, spirituals, country music, gospel music, biblical literalism, southern culture, Americana

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