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Date: 16/01/18

"When Jesus Washed"

One can sometimes be moved despite oneself.

Not that, in 1969 and seven years old, I had any strong feelings about religion one way or another. True, I was brought up in a family which was Christian in that 'default setting' sort of way, and I went to a church school where we were - by law - obliged to spend an inordinate amount of time singing tenth-rate verse set to second-rate tunes; but I hadn't come to any firm conclusions on the subject one way or the other.

It was at that age that this song was a hit, and it got a lot of airplay on the only music radio stations we had around at that time; so ubiquity no doubt accounts for it impinging so strongly on my consciousness.

Not that it mattered too much, though. There was so much verve and style to the Edwin Hawkins Singers' rendition of Hawkins' arrangement of Oh Happy Day that my rational views - such as they might have been at that time - got by-passed, and I just revelled in the sound and - perhaps almost despite myself - felt warmed by that if not necessarily by the sentiment.

I still like this track an awful lot, a liking which has not been dimmed by my subsequent move into overt and committed heathenism; to which is added the amusement which comes from knowing that - in Ukania at least - the track was published by a company called Kama Sutra and released on a label called Buddah (sic), which was owned by a Jew. All that we would need for a full set would be to discover that his chauffeur was from Cairo.

Besides which, putting this here with approval at least proves how broad-minded I am capable of being, especially when it comes to music. But whatever your own position on trying to unscrew the inscrutable, just enjoy:

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Photo of Edwin Hawkins

Edwin Reuben Hawkins
Musician and composer
b. 19 August 1943, d. 15 January 2018