David Byrne Radio Presents: Gospel

David Byrne Radio Presents: Gospel


You don’t need to believe to love gospel music. But if you aren’t moved by gospel music, you need some serious help.

This playlist covers many decades of recordings, and any single decade would be full of riches enough. But here’s the most recent picks from my personal playlist.

Here are the roots of rock and roll, RnB and hip hop. This music is about transcendence and community. It’s about surrendering to something bigger than yourself, and in doing so, there is ecstacy and joy. In gospel music, that surrender is to God, but as many singers discovered, that feeling can be easily repurposed to secular ends. One can enlist the power of the music to surrender to love and sex just as easily—its tools are that powerful, flexible and adaptable. There is a tension there, as well as a potential linking and union of the sacred and the profane. Life is both.

In either case, the musicians and the listener form a community—something that again is larger than the individual. Oddly, for all the emphasis on individuality and self in our culture, we are often at our best and feel the best when we leave ourselves behind. That’s another kind of tension from which this music draws its power.

Happy new year.

David Byrne


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David Byrne Radio Presents: Gospel