In 1945, Lee Richardson, Gus Treadwell, Creedell Copeland, Marvin Jones, and Charles “Jake” Richardson formed The Teenage Highway QC’s, named after Quincy College High School of Chicago.
Have you ever wanted to listen to songs and selections on vinyl that formally and/or affectively implore you to move against and beyond, to encounter an otherness that refuses reduction, to somehow, and miraculously, satisfy the desire to be someone or someplace else, at least for a moment? If so, then this portal, curated by John Modern, is for you. For in this virtual mix-tape of vinyl prayer, transgression and transcendence are the order of the day: in the harmonies, in the stentorian instruction, in the skips and confounds and glitches and snags that move from an initial sense of disruption to loop to loop to soothing predictability and perhaps a world in which beauty, truth, and reality are suspended as categorical imperatives, at least until you walk over and nudge the needle.
Read the instructions and the introductions here.
Harlan Matthews was born in Mount Airy, NC in 1927. He recorded this album at Alexander’s Studio in Dry Run, Pennsylvania.
Prisoners at Prayer (Nu-Sound Records) was arranged and produced under the auspices of Chaplain Earl-Clayton Grandstaff.
In what amounts to mnemonic therapy, the brain is strengthened and the will is chastened in Prayer—The Christian’s Chief Business (Sacred Records).
A self-conscious addition to the postwar surge in self-help discourse, Psycho-Cybernetics was published in 1960.
Born of privilege (a Rothschild pedigree and a father who was a vice president of Levi Strauss manufacturing), Samuel L. Lewis was one of the more colorful American mystics, who, at the end of his life, shifted from preparing himself for enlightenment to ushering in a new age of enlightenment.
“The Psychologically Ultimate Seashore” promised nothing less than to generate the “best possible self” by way of concentration and relaxation.
The Gospel Ambassadors hail from Wilmington, Delaware and their Oh, I Can’t Wait to See Him was released on the Executive Records label.
In this cover version of Norman Greenbaum’s 1969 original, salvation becomes a social occasion, perhaps even a bureaucratic process. “Spirit in the Sky” is performed, here, by the hastily assembled Sisters and Brothers, who sing it as part of a “rock mass”—a concept made popular by the Australian nun Sister Janet Mead, in the early 1970s.
“Power Flower” was performed in 1969 at the Westinghouse Sixth Future Power Forum.
“Crying Holy Unto the Lord” became a staple of the bluegrass circuit and was sung by the likes of Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs.
Written and composed by Bill Gaither, “He Touched Me” is a standard in the repertoire of contemporary evangelicalism.
The Addicts were assembled by the Pentecostal evangelist John Gimenez, whose ministry revolved around “dope addiction.” Gimenez, a former addict, conceived of the idea of a play about the lives of “junkies,” and their redemption, in 1963.
Words are a pale substitute for the live feed. But here we have a culmination of sorts. Here we have the power and expanse of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN).
Malcolm Boyd is, perhaps, best known for being an early supporter of gay rights within the Episcopal Church (publicizing his homosexuality in 1977). Boyd had become an Episcopal priest some twenty-five years earlier, having had a successful career in advertising and television.
As stereophonic sound achieved a mass audience at mid-century, so, too, did Norman Vincent Peale.
Irma Glen heralds from a Divine Science background and the teachings of Ernest Holmes (The Creative Mind  and The Science of Mind ).
A local favorite from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Marlene Hershey and the Hershey-ettes were masters of disharmony, perhaps the logic of prayer.
Jimmy Mamou once jammed with Jimi Hendrix and Big Mama Thornton before being washed in the blood of the lamb in the early 1970s.
Written by Albert E. Brumley, “Turn Your Radio On” is performed here by The Lewis Family, from Lincolnton, Georgia.
Prayer may be an act of gratitude after the fact. It may be a weapon, a request to heal the body or boost the brain, an epistemic cry, a meditation, a mediation, a quip, a plea, a means of passive resistance, a wonderful gift from God. Or any manner of combination.
Whatever prayer is or has been it seems, often, to be bound up in the play of transgression and transcendence. Within the move across there are the moves against and the moves beyond. Against and beyond simultaneously, continuously, even as a prayer is conceived and uttered, even after it is ignored or answered.