First Hit #1: September 4, 1961
I think my favorite moments in this project are when the songs come completely out of left field. So, we’ve got a scattershot of rock and doo wop in the early ’60s, but then the Highwaymen come along and do some straight up gospel. Yep, that refrain of Hallelujah and the constant reference to biblical themes indicates a pretty big injection of religion into our normally secular pop charts.
The song itself is more interesting than that though, considering the strange and winding way it got to the charts in the first place. How does an African-American spiritual get turned into a song sung by white guys that’s highly influenced by modern trends and still work? Well, it does, and it does it by wearing its influences in a very obvious and quite appealing way. I know there are a lot of people who have a knee jerk hatred towards anything overtly Christian, but listening to this purely on it’s merits as a song, it’s a very appealing and calming piece of music. Well done, anonymous author hundreds of years ago, and well done Highwaymen.