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Interview by Joe Montague

“This album is accessible to people. It is a blue-collar Christian album. It is not something where you have to be a highbrow (person),” says David Bellamy of The Bellamy Brothers’ new CD Jesus Is Coming.

The duo, David and Howard, first splashed the charts in 1976 with the pop song, “Let Your Love Flow,” a tune that occupied the # 1 spot on charts in the United States, Great Britain, Scandinavia and Germany. David then wrote “Spiders And Snakes,” another mega hit, only this time recorded by Jim Stafford. The Grammy Award winning Bellamy Brothers are in that elite group of artists whose music is just as popular in Europe and North America and their popularity has not waned despite the fact they are now in their fourth decade of recording and performing.

As we began our hour together, David said, “I think this album is very personal and unique compared to most country gospel album. Most of them are just remakes of old hymns, but we determined we were not going to do that, and instead make (a record) in our style.” 

With song titles such as “Drug Problem,” “Lord Help Me Be The Kind Of Person (My Dog Thinks I Am),” “I Ain’t Goin’ To Hell,” and “Old Hippie III (Saved),” The Bellamy Brothers cannot be accused of taking the easy way out while recording their first gospel album. The country tunes were birthed in real life experiences from their youth and adult years. While the titles and subject matter might set off the pacemakers of a few diehard fundamentalists, and cause some snootier churchgoers to lift their noses in disdain, The Bellamy Brothers CD Jesus Is Coming is sure to strike a chord with those who otherwise might never give a listen to a song with Christian themes. It should also find a receptive audience with more open-minded believers, and youthful fans of country music.

David says, “Although we have nothing against preaching to the choir, we hope that it doesn’t just preach to the choir. We hope there are a few sinners who listen to it along with the believers, because it is a gospel album for people who…”

“…aren’t hypocrites,” Howard finishes the sentence, “I think the hypocrites will find this (Jesus Is Coming) the hardest to accept,” says Howard.

“If you do reach that outsider, I think that is very important. When you play in a nightclub, there are some great people there,” says David.

Howard continues with, “Sometimes they just get sidetracked, like we did.”

The track “Faith Came Back To Me,” is a personal account of Howard and David’s return to their roots. “Ya’ we backslid and did a little of everything to be honest. We did what everybody did. It seemed normal at the time, but as you get older, you see things from a different perspective. You start thinking maybe grandma was right. When you are imprinted at a young age, it comes back, it really does,” says David.

In the song “Grandma’s God,” Howard and David pay tribute to their childhood days, when the seeds of faith were first sown. The lyrics also speak to the long, winding road that took them away from those roots, and the road that brought them back.

“Grandma’s God” is really true. Our grandmother was what they used to call a holy roller, a Pentecostal. If you had breakfast at her house, she would be listening to the preacher on the radio, while she had her hand on the radio praying. We grew up with that. She was a very strong woman. That’s really the roundabout circle. We were hippies in the sixties, (however) we made a big circle, and came back to where we started,” says David. That road back is described in the southern gospel tune, “Faith Came Back To Me.”

David says, “We were pretty well drug to church on Sunday morning. That (“Drug Problem”) is a very true story. I think these songs are all pretty personal, and what made this album a lot of fun for us. Normally writing and recording is a lot of fun, but we really had a lot of fun making this one (CD). We cut this one at home and it never really was like work. “Grandma’s God,” is one of the most autobiographical songs that I have ever written.”

Responding to my question as to whether or not there might be some risk associated with the recording of a gospel album at this point in their careers, David says, “There might be some risk, but I don’t think we care much, because we have sung gospel music all of our lives. We have sung gospel music for as long as I can remember. I can’t remember anytime when we didn’t sing gospel music.”

“I think actually this record will really help clear up who we are, because I don’t think people ever knew that. (and chuckling adds) I think that it has taken thirty-one years for people to figure out this is where we are coming from. We are coming from several different directions, but this is really our outlook,” says Howard.

As to the upbeat country rhythms and southern gospel flavoring found on the current CD David observes, “We grew up in the church, and our first big hit wound up being a pop record, but we grew up really country.”  The country tunes once again serve to highlight the brothers’ beautiful harmonies and the rich timbre of their voices.

Howard and David credit pacing themselves more carefully in the later years of their careers, with preserving the quality of their voices. Against the gorgeous background vocals of Vickie Carrico, Vicki Hampton and Bob Bailey, Howard and David sing the tender “Beautiful Night,” a soul soothing song, which once again shines on the quality of their vocal performance.

The CD Jesus Is Coming represents coming full circle in more than one way, as David had the opportunity to record “You’re The World,” with his sons Jesse and Noah. If you are a country music fan, who has enjoyed the music of Buck Owens and later Dwight Yoakam then you will not want to miss listening to “You’re The World.” I know my foot was tapping. You can also dance a slow two-step to this song.

In talking about the opportunity to record with his sons, David says, “That was a lot of fun. We have been doing some shows with the boys. They are touring around Texas (at the time of our interview). Jesse and I co-wrote the song together, especially on a gospel album. The great news about that song is there is a girl in Denmark who cut that song also, and Howard and I sang on it. Her album just went gold. That was really nice for Jesse because it is the first royalty money he ever made (David and Jesse co-wrote “You’re The World”). It helps him pay the rent for the moment.”

Then like any proud father, David says of Noah and Jesse, “They are coming up pretty good, and in fact are playing with us this weekend in Missouri.”

The words from the title track “Jesus Is Coming,” may startle some, but reflect the sentiment of David and Howard.  The song comments on poverty, those in the church, government and the legal profession who have abused their positions of privilege and power. The lyrics also serve as a social commentary. Paul Franklin’s steel guitar is as poignant as the lyrics.

Since the album is about honoring heritage and faith, as well as talking about the journey that brought them full circle, it is only fitting that the CD should end with the song that started it all, “Let Your Love Flow.” Howard and David created a new mix of the song, with which they are still so closely identified in numerous countries around the world. In some of those countries, they may not speak much English, but they can still sing all the words to “Let Your Love Flow.” 

Take the time beyond the scope of this interview to learn more about two old hippies who continue to create fabulous music, and whom this scribe is happy to have had the opportunity to get to know. Check out their website at www.bellamybrothers.com . You may also want to check out youtube as there seem to be some ambitious fans who have posted various videos of The Bellamy Brothers performing live in a variety of venues.