Will Oldham, a man who needs no introduction, will be writing from Louisville every Wednesday about loved and significant music.
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The Clark Sisters - "Is My Living In Vain"
A couple of years ago I was contracted to play the part of a fundamentalist Christian in a film that was to be titled 'The American'. I was given about six months to prepare, and in the course of that time I went to many different churches, looking for a congregation for my character.
Many times I returned to the church called St. Stephens here in Louisville, KY. Initially I was invited to a service by my friend Mark Hamilton who plays guitar in the church band. After a couple of visits, I told the film director about my experiences at St. Stephens. He encouraged me to look elsewhere, which I did... but I kept going back to St Stephens because the music was so good and the energy so strong.
One day, the youth choir performed a song called 'That Shall He Reap'. The song struck a deep chord with me. The writer/composer is a man named James Hall. I kept returning to the words, which of course had long been familiar to me for many reasons, not the least of which being the way that Lou Reed used a key section of the verse in his song 'Perfect Day'.
I ended up writing a song called 'Not Mocked' which contains parts of the verse. During my obsession with these ideas, I came across another song by Mattie Moss Clark called 'That Shall He Also Reap' which moved me quite a bit. I looked for more from Clark, and found that her daughters were also great performers. This is one of their great songs.