work hard play hard pray hard

Over at the Paris Review Online, one of my favorite writers – John Jeremiah Sullivan – has a short essay about the tension between religious belief and religious music. It is also an essay about a new collection of old country music –Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard – collected by Kentuckian Don Wahle, who kept the records in boxes until the day he died. Says Sullivan about the track “Beyond the Starry Plane”:

From the abyss of the static come “dear Mother” and “no matter what I do” and “we shall meet again” and “Jesus is my God.” I listen to this song and imagine Don Wahle listening to it, leaning forward to hear it better. An infinitesimal point of communion, a shared pause before the obliteration.

Sullivan also wrote the liner notes for the collection, which Milo Miles reviewed for Fresh Air a few weeks back.


Image by Tennessee Home and Farm via Flickr Commons