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I've Gotta Mind

from Spirit Communication [album] by John Harvey

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The source material for the track is derived from an AM radio broadcast by one of the numerous independent fundamentalist Christian networks in the USA, which I recorded on a visit to Colorado Springs, USA, in 1998. It captures part of African-American church service. The preacher is in his stride and extemporary mode. As is characteristic of African-American preaching, his impassioned speech transforms into equally heartfelt singing in the tradition of spirituals and the blues. Towards the close of the composition, his sermon is augmented by a musical accompaniment played on an electric organ and a saxophone.

In the composition, an angelic choir can be heard above him. The attendance of an invisible heavenly host singing either in concert with the congregation in a place of worship or in the sky has an established tradition in western Christian church. Their presence was interpreted as signifying divine approbation, encouragement, and blessing. In the Protestant evangelical tradition, the phenomenon either anticipated or accompanied periods of religious revival. Written testimony regarding their presence goes back to eighteenth century, both in the UK and New England, USA.

Today, video recordings made at small and so-called ‘mega’ church services in the USA purport to capture contemporary manifestations of the phenomenon. The poor sound quality, hubbub of the congregation, and the prominence of the preacher’s voice, makes it hard to hear the angelic overlay. Where audible, it sounds like a choral drone -- something which could have an entirely earthly and electronic origin, and been played over the auditorium’s PA system. Historically, I suspect, what the worshipping audients heard reflected the style and sensibilities of sacred music in their day.

The construction of the angelic choir in ‘I’ve Gotta Mind’ is analogous to the transformation from speaking to singing in African-American preaching. The choral accompaniment is speech that has been slowed down considerably, reversed, overlaid, and treated using a chorus and a harmonic modulators to suggest ethereal and distant voices.

Lyric
Preacher: People [indistinct] share in this earthen vessel
Give me that treasure, is power
That treasure is the power of God
In Acts 1, 8 say, ye shall receive power
After that, the Holy Ghost will come upon you
That’s the treasure
The Holy Ghost is a treasure, which is power
(Yelp)

Holy to God. Hallelujah!
[indistinct] the power, maybe of God
I’ve gotta mind to live right
I’ve gotta mind to do right
I’ve gotta mind to treat everybody right
I’ve gotta mind to love everybody right
I’ve gotta mind to do God’s will
(Yelp)

I’ve gotta mind to realise that this is my season
I’ve gotta mind to realise I’m going all the way
I’ve gotta mind to live holy
I’ve gotta mind to live right
I’ve gotta mind
(Yelp)

Thank you, Jesus
Thank you, Jesus.

credits

from Spirit Communication [album], released December 5, 2023

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about

John Harvey Ceredigion, UK

I’m a practitioner and historian of sound art and visual art, and Emeritus Professor of Art at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University, UK. My research field is the sonic and visual culture of religion. I explore the sonic articulations of the Christian religion by engaging visual, textual, and audible sources, theological and cultural ideas, and systemic and audiovisualogical processes. ... more

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