• Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

By Jonathan Sawrie

We’re broadcasting live from Gillette, Wyoming site of the 2010 National High School Finals Rodeo!  Picture NQC but with a few hundred Bloomer horse trailers covering the grounds instead of Prevost coaches.  Actually, most of the horse trailers are nicer than some of the buses I’ve ridden on.

Joshua covered his first bull and is currently sitting in the top 30 after the first go.  He drew a weak bull which didn’t help his score, but parents always breathe easier when the kids walk away on their feet.  A couple have been carried from the arena by ambulance.

I’m still considering whether or not to furnish the Gospel music world a photo of me in my rodeo attire.  I’m just not sure some of you would be able to handle me in my Justin hat and Ariat boots.  I even pulled out my 20-year old Dan Post Pythons one night at State Finals – now there’s a pair of boots!  I do not, I repeat, do not wear Wranglers though – I have to draw the line somewhere.  I have at times toyed with the idea of a Cinch jeans purchase, but Wranglers are nowhere on the radar.

I was reminded during the 20-hour road trip from Horseshoe Mountain why I do not have an IPod (wow, IPod is in the spell check dictionary) or any other “soundtrack to life” device.  I guess I didn’t realize how often I drive down the road listening to nothing.  I was also reminded of how much I don’t like modern Country music – Joshua’s soundtrack of choice.

The late George Carlin used to ponder the demise of Roll music and Western music.  You know, Rock and Roll is now just Rock, and Country and Western is now just Country.  After listening to several hours of Country, I’m wondering where it went.  Sounded like a bunch of Pop music with some steel and fiddle thrown in the mix.  One song’s lyrics actually said something about sitting around listening to Tom Petty on the radio.  Go figure.

That made me think of the duet by Alan Jackson and George Strait from 2000 entitled “Murder on Music Row”.  It lamented the (continuing) trend of Country/Pop crossover acts, and declared that traditional artists like Merle Haggard, George Jones, and “Ol’ Hank wouldn’t have a chance on today’s radio”.

That in turn led to my remembering a road trip from last year when I was able to tune in to a Southern Gospel radio station for a hundred miles or so which left me wondering:  Whatever happened to Gospel music?  I’m afraid all we’ve got left is “Southern”.  Actually, if you were to take out the lyrics and play only the soundtrack, I’m afraid I couldn’t tell a Top 40 Country song from a Top 80 Southern Gospel song.

I don’t know if murder’s been committed or not, but I really have to wonder if Hovie, Easmon, or Ol’ J.D. would have a chance on today’s radio.


Jonathan Sawrie has spent most of his short life involved in gospel music as a pianist, singer, writer, teacher, and producer.  He is a life-long resident of Faulkner County, Arkansas and makes his home near Greenbrier on Horseshoe Mountain with wife Danna, sons Jacob and Joshua, and cat Samson.   They are active members of Central Baptist Church in Conway.  (Samson has not joined the church.)  He holds a BBA Degree in Accounting from the University of Central Arkansas and is a master Spades player winning the Toad Suck Ferry Spades Tournament in 1998 and 2000.   He enjoys gardening, motorcycling, Razorback football, and has no spare time.  He gave up full-time bus riding in 2002 after 16 years with the Melody Boys Quartet but continues to do free-lance quartet work filling in for the sick and afflicted and those who were fired for stealing mic cords.   He appears at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion each August as the pianist for the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion Quartet.  (And everybody else who doesn’t have one or left theirs at home.)   He does not play golf.

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