Written by Albert E. Brumley, “Turn Your Radio On” is performed here by The Lewis Family, from Lincolnton, Georgia. This classic song delves underneath the circuits of prayer in a secular age. Prayer, here, is both technic and technology; a practice oriented to the world at-large and an intimate calibration; a tuning of self to some other presence and, of course, a translation of that presence into the idiom of self. As such, prayer is an impossible, perhaps even hubristic, thing.
In “Turn Your Radio On,” prayer may be thought of as the instantiation of self as medium, a radical expansion of the self that is promised by and premised upon indeterminate submission to the “master’s radio.” Your dial wide, your antenna out. Turn your radio on.
For the result of experiencing this mechanical interface is a world ordinarily unavailable, embodied here in the physical form of The Lewis Family. The liner notes to Just Us (Canaan Records) testify to the realness of The Lewis Family, or rather, the realness of your capacity to “appreciate sincerity, Christian love, excellent gospel singing . . . It’s ‘JUST US’ . . . The same courteous, genial people you see and enjoy on TV and the platform is a true picture of them whenever they appear, off or on stage.” There is a windedness to these claims of transparency and immediacy, a desperate attempt to cover one’s bases—they are authentic ALL THE TIME. “There is no pretense to these people who have such expressive and spontaneous smiles.”