Gospel Truths: MCR 3.5.14
A great storyteller can make you care about characters you’d overlook or dismiss or disdain in your daily rounds. A great songwriter conjures that empathy and sets it to a smoking groove and a tasty melody. We witnessed this play out magnificently on Wednesday night as Oklahoma artist Parker Millsap delivered a clinic in precocious, literary truth-telling. It was a superb (and surprisingly cohesive) night all around, with four flavors of manly country rock. But Millsap’s “Truck Stop Gospel” was for me the night’s branding iron moment. It’s about an audacious and eccentric trucker/preacher who paints a cross on the side of his rig “to remind the Devil that he ain’t so big and scary” (which Millsap rhymes sneakily with “Tucumcari”). Then the tune is evangelically catchy, as its rhythm shifts back and forth between a half-time stride and double-time rockabilly. I’d already fallen hard for the song on Parker’s self-titled new album. It jolted me in a way that reminded me of hearing “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” for the first time. So it was something to hear it live. I could easily see it pop up this Fall as the Americana Song of the Year.
With that out of the way, here’s how the March 5, 2014 edition of Roots unfolded.