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Religious (and probably sacrilegious) Blues

Nat Allister
A review of "I Wonder If God Ever Gets The Blues" by Mark D. Pendergrass
Written February 12th, 2017, 7:43 am by

Nat Allister FROM Fox & Beggar Theater Inc.

SongLadder Editor
If you told me this song was a Tom Waits cover, I wouldn't be surprised; not that Mark Pendergrass sounds anything like Waits in "I Wonder," but that the whisky-soaked lounge-style melody-- mixed with a sort of nihilistic Baptist imagery rooted in contemporary America-- makes me think of the kind of songs Waits was writing in his later career. Also, there's a very faint instrument in the background that sounds a little Waits-esque...maybe a trumpet, but I kind of think it might actually be a kazoo, wailing like a drunk New Orleans man in a parade. But unlike Waits' hallmark growl, Pendergrass has a sweet and tender voice, and uses guitar as his central instrument. In fact, for some reason, the singer-songwriter play between his voice and his delicate finger picking makes me think of a few songs from Led Zeppelin's discography. And then, of course, we might as well throw in a mention for Joan Osborne's classic "One of Us," another song that asks serious questions about humanity while painting God as just another normal, meat-and-potatoes kinda guy. So there you have it. Throw Waits, Robert Plant, and Joan Osborne together, shake it up a lot, and you've got the stirring song before you now, "I Wonder If God Ever Gets the Blues." Or, perhaps Pendergrass just came up with his style entirely on his own (I hate it when I accidentally make artists sound derivative...it's not really my intention).

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