Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Separated at birth?

If this post’s title sounds familiar, it’s because I have played this little game once before.

Now I am playing it again.

Don’t you think country singer Tanya Tucker...

could be the long-lost twin of Paula White, American televangelist and pastor of the Without Walls Church of Tampa, Florida?

Blogging is so educational. I saw Tanya the other night on Mike Huckabee’s program, and she sang, among other things, “Delta Dawn” -- it was her first hit when she was 13, Mike told the audience. But I distinctly remembered that it was Helen Reddy’s voice I used to hear singing “She’s 41 and her Daddy still calls her ‘Baby’; all the folks around Brownsville say she’s crazy,” so I looked it up on Wikipedia to make sure.

Here’s what Wikipedia had to say. The final sentence (emphasis mine) is what I found so educational:

“Delta Dawn” is a song written by former child rockabilly star Larry Collins and songwriter Alex Harvey, and recorded by a number of artists, most notably Bette Midler, Helen Reddy [I was right. --RWP], Tanya Tucker and Waylon Jennings. Tucker’s version went to #6 on the country music chart, and Reddy’s topped both the pop and adult contemporary charts. Included on Tucker’s first album, the song was released as a single, and it became the 13-year-old's first hit [Mike Huckabee was also right. --RWP]. Reddy cut the song shortly after Tucker’s version became a hit, and her version became the seventh-highest selling single for the year 1973 on the pop charts, hitting number one on the week ending September 15. It borrows, in large part, the melody from “Amazing Grace.”

What? Amazing Grace? Surely they were kidding. After thinking about both songs for a little while, though, I came to the conclusion that they were not. Try it for yourself. Sing “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me” and then sing “Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on? Could it be some faded rose from days gone by?” and you will find them amazingly similar. Sing through to the end of both choruses, and you won’t change your mind.

[Note. Many songs do seem remarkably similar, but a scale has only so many notes, and they can be combined in only so many ways. Chords have names, and the chords used to play “Amazing Grace” and “Delta Dawn” are known to musicians as I, IV, and V. As songwriter Harlan Howard once said (and it is etched in stone at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee), “Great music is simply three chords and the truth.” That’s pretty profound, actually. I don’t think a song is intrinsically any better or worse because it is simple, but a simple song is certainly more accessible; it can be performed by less-accomplished musicians. --RWP]

Reading my blog turns out to be educational, too. You can see with your own eyes how beneficial American televangelism can be, especially to the televangelist.

1 comment:

  1. I live in a black hole. I admit it. If I've ever heard Tanya Tucker sing anything, it was not a memorable event. I probably have heard Helen Reddy, but am not certain. Yes... I do listen to music; M.U.S.I.C. and I get to decide what that is, for me. :) At one time, I was amazed to realize that I actually knew the words to some songs by Chicago, the Beatles and The Eagles. My children were amazed and shocked!