Culture Rover

#14 - Belonging

Reverend Gary Davis, "I Belong To the Band"

It's about dying and going to heaven, but I hear Reverend Gary Davis's "I Belong to the Band" (Real Audio sound clip) as a redemptive story about those fleeting moments when you feel like you really belong to a group on earth. It's about when you've been granted access and membership to a certain place or sphere of social life. It's a declaration of identity, but a complex one, insistent and tentative, bold and tender all at once, asking to belong and asserting belonging simultaneously. That combination is what makes the song so moving.

I also hear "I Belong to the Band" as a musician's announcement of identity as much as a preacher's declaration of faith. This man is a Reverend of Sound on earth as well as a minister of deliverance to the next world. His timing on vocals and guitar -- driving, impeccable, steady, but with inspired leaps and jumps, twists and bends -- is the link between. Is his music the crack of lightning that splits open the insulating boundaries for an instant and welcomes us all into the beloved community together?

19 September 2004

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