Country According to Al Green

•  Lyle Lovett and the Reverend Al went down old town road decades ago

•  Wasn’t hard to get Green to sing in a Grammy interview

•  Funny how time slips away

This post is “dedicated” to Bob Mugge for making a film that boosted my appreciation of the soul legend Al Green.

My longtime friend Mugge’s Gospel According to Al Green (1984) is hailed by the UK’s New Musical Express as “a unique and fascinating glimpse into the life and memory of one of soul music’s most perplexing figures.” (It’s available on MVD Visual) and streams on Amazon and iTunes.

Any interview with Al Green deals obligatorily with his turn away from secular music to the church and its hymns of praise, part of the focus of Bob’s film. (Green returned to secular songs around 1988) But the night we went live from backstage at the 37th Grammy Awards in LA’s Shrine Auditorium, country music was sharing the spotlight.

The Reverend Al was accepting the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Collaboration (his co-winner, Lyle Lovett, was recovering from a motorcycle accident). I had a hunch I could get a few bars of Funny How Time Slips Away out of him:

If you think the recent hit song Old Town Road, which brought Lil Naz X and Billy Ray Cyrus together, is a groundbreaking recording uniting the worlds of country and urban music, you should know this: The 1994 album Green and Lovett were on, Rhythm, Country & Blues was there way ahead of Lil and Bill. It was one of those duets deals, pairing country and R&B stars like Tanya Tucker and Little Richard, Reba McIntyre and Natalie Cole, and George Jones and BB King.

As I write this, the music industry is moving toward phasing out terms like “urban” and “urban contemporary” music in response to the newly reinvigorated civil rights movement. The Recording Academy — givers of the Grammys – has eliminated “urban” from nomination categories.

That said, these days, we should be rooting for anything that brings “country” and “urban” closer together – in harmony – don’t y’all think?


More musical memories here.

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