In Loving Memories: The Jerry Lee Lewis Gospel Album
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|In Loving Memories: The Jerry Lee Lewis Gospel Album|
|Studio album by Jerry Lee Lewis|
|Producer||Jerry Lee Lewis, Linda Gail Lewis|
|Jerry Lee Lewis chronology|
Lewis's love for gospel music is well documented. As a teenager, Lewis studied at the Southwest Bible Institute in Waxahachie, Texas before being thrown out for daring to play a boogie-woogie version of "My God Is Real," and that early incident foreshadowed his lifelong conflict over his faith to God and his love of playing "the devil's music." Lewis had a recorded argument with Sam Phillips during the recording session for "Great Balls of Fire," a song he initially refused to record because he considered it blasphemous ("How can...How can the devil save souls? What are you talkin' about?" he asks Phillips during one heated exchange). Lewis also endured years of condemnation from his cousin, evangelist Jimmy Lee Swaggart, who never passed up an opportunity to criticize Lewis's lifestyle. In the 1990 documentary The Jerry Lee Lewis Story, an intense Lewis, who could quote the Bible backwards and forwards, explains to the interviewer, "The Bible don't even speak of religion. No word of religion is even in the Bible. Sanctification! Are you sanctified? Have you been saved? See, I was a good preacher, I know my Bible...And for you to receive the third part of the Trinity, which is the Holy Ghost - which is evidence of speaking in other tongues where you get the Holy Ghost - it will not dwell in an unclean temple. And to receive the greatest gift in the world, the Holy Ghost, you're gonna have to get your heart pure and clean...I find myself falling short of the glory of God." "Falling short" may have been putting it mildly, but Lewis's faith was always best demonstrated through his music, and gospel music always remained part of his repertoire. After a string of hit country albums, he decided to record a proper gospel album for the first time in 1970. The decision may have been informed by the failing health of his mother Mamie, who had been a bedrock of support to him (she would die of lung cancer in April 1971).
Lewis produced the album himself with his sister Linda Gail Lewis, who wrote on the back jacket that "Jerry Lee has always played his own style of Gospel music." In addition to the usual ace musicians that accompanied him on his recent Mercury albums, Lewis is backed by the Jordanaires and the Nashville Sounds. The album features well known Gospel songs that country music listeners would have been quite familiar with, such as "I'll Fly Away" and "Lily of the Valley" as well as three songs composed by Linda Gail and Lewis's manager Cecil Harrelson. The album's appearance came shortly after an all-gospel show performed and recorded at a Church of God in Memphis, which would surface in 1986 on a Bear Family box set.
In Loving Memories was released on January 1, 1970 and, promoted by indulgent Mercury executives, rose to number 18 on the Billboard country album charts. Greg Adams of AllMusic singles out "My God's Not Dead" and "I'll Fly Away" for praise and observes that "Lewis' dynamic and exuberant playing is certainly rooted in his enthusiastic religious upbringing, but the contradictions inherent in a hedonistic, so-called 'Killer"'cousin of Jimmy Swaggart do not put him first on the list of likely spiritual leaders. These personal conflicts lend a certain tension to Lewis' gospel music, whether or not you believe the humility and servitude he professes." In his book Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found, biographer Joe Bonomo calls "He Looked Beyond My Fault" "staggering."
- "In Loving Memories" (Linda Gail Lewis, Cecil Harrelson)
- "The Lily of the Valley" (Charles Fry, William Shakespeare Hays)
- "Gather 'Round Children" (Linda Gail Lewis, Cecil Harrelson)
- "My God's Not Dead" (Thomas LaVerne, Donnie Pittman, Bill Taylor)
- "He Looked Beyond My Fault" (Dottie Rambo)
- "Old Rugged Cross" (George Bennard)
- "I'll Fly Away" (Albert E. Brumley)
- "I'm Longing for Home" (Rev. Rupert Cravens, Orville Davis)
- "I Know That Jesus Will Be There" (Linda Gail Lewis, Cecil Harrelson)
- "Too Much to Gain to Lose" (Dottie Rambo)
- "If We Never Meet Again"/"I'll Meet You in the Morning" (Albert E. Brumley)