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‘Redneck religion and shitkickin' saviours?’: Gram Parsons, theology and country music

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 April 2002

Abstract

The country singer Gram Parsons (1946-73) has in the last decade been increasingly cited as a seminal influence upon the development of contemporary alt.country and the roots/americana revivial. This article critiques Parsons and his music within the realm of contextual theology, using him as a bridge to examine the wider issue of what a theology of country music might entail. Both Parsons and Country Music in general are strongly religious in language, ethos and culture, yet the theology articulated both explicitly and implicitly is not evangelical as those outside the genre and culture might assume. Rather, the theology of country music involves a gospel of liminality, a theology of redemptive transgression that is expressed in ‘white spirituals’ where the song is a locus of grace. The article asks if Parsons was a locus of grace; are his songs those of liminal presence; does country music employ a theology of redemptive transgression?

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2002 Cambridge University Press

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