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‘Congregation’ – annotated lyrics

November 4th, 2014
Seeing how the whole concept of  Sonic Highways was to record songs inspired and shaped by the studio and city it was recorded in, I thought after each episode airs I’d try and piece together the meaning behind the lyrics.

“That week in Nashville I felt like a fish out of water.  But in the most refreshing way.” – Dave Grohl

Well I met the seventh Son

Tony Joe White was the seventh child in his family.

He came for everyone
The day he heard the lightning in the field

TJW was the Son of a cotton farmer and knew he wanted to be a musician after hearing Lightnin’ Hopkins

I heard him clear his throat
A fork within the road

Tony ended up in Nashville by accident – he’d planned to drive to Memphis but had trouble on the highway.

That night the Tallahatchie took the wheel

After hearing Bobbie Gentry’s  ‘Ode To Billy Joe’ on the radio and relating to the songs subjects Tony Joe decided “If I ever write, it’ll be about something I know about”.

I’ve been throwing knives to see just where they land
Now my world is in your hands

Send in the congregation

Nashville & country music is synonyms with the church and gospel singing.

Open your eyes
Step in the light

While having difficulty working on the song’s arrangement  Dave said he glanced up, saw sunlight breaking through the studio’s arch window and immediately ‘got it’. “When that light hit me through that window I felt inspired”.

A jukebox generation
Just as you were

In the 50s & 60s in order to make money country stars needed to keep putting out singles to be played on jukeboxes.

A voice upon a stage
Is a heart inside a cage
Singing like a bluebird in the round

The Bluebird Cafe is a legendary Nashville venue where acts perform in the middle of the floor with the audience all around.

There’s mystery in this wood
And Ghosts within these roots
That are tangled deep beneath this southern ground

The track was recorded in Southern Ground Studios, a former church built in 1901 that used to be the home of Monument Records.

Ive been going through life making foolish plans
Now my world is in your hands

Send in the congregation
Open your eyes
Step in the light
A jukebox generation

Just as you were, alright
Just as you were
Just as you were, alright

And you need Blind faith
No false hope
Do you have blind faith?
No false hope
Where is your blind faith?
No false hope

An almost direct lift from producer Tony Brown’s thoughts regarding idealistic artists breaking away from Nashville’s strict formula for success:  “Don’t have false hope. Still have blind faith. You gotta have blind faith or why do you even give a shit?”

Open your eyes
Open your eyes
Step into the light

The sound becomes congregation
A congregation
A congregation

And they’re singing like a bluebird in the round

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