Sunday May 15 – Memphis. The OTR Tour Final Day.

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Well, after 18 days (more for some), the tour is finally coming to a close and what better way to finish off than to visit the Reverend Al Green’s Full Gospel Tabernacle Church. Just past Graceland but a light year away from the gaudiness of its gift shops.

This is one thing you must do! Soon! You do not have to believe in any sort of religion to be uplifted. Al was in brilliant form, smiling, laughing, joking. “I’m feeling happy,” he told us several times and it was obvious. He seemed in much better spirits 9so to speak) than when we saw him last year.

It is difficult to describe the entire 2 and a half hour service but there was a lot of preaching, a lot of singing and a lot of laughter. In introducing Al, one of the preachers mentioned how he had studied the lyrics of Al’s songs and felt that gthere were religious messages in all of them, especially ‘How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?’ which will come as big news to Barry Gibb.

The choir was terrific and Al would burst into song randomly. As he uttered the phrase ‘if you don’t know me by now’ the band went into the song of the same title only to be scolded, ‘that’s a Harold Melvin song!’

All the visitors, comprising about half the congregation, were introduced and Al seemed delighted that there were so many Australians in the congregation. There was a slight lull during the scripture reading as Al interpreted the meaning for us and I have to confess, that like some others in the group, I did not have a clue what he was talking about (which is probably why the nuns made me stand in the corner with a dunces cap on my head in primary school!).

The highlight of the service was when Al yelled out ‘shut up baby!’ to a small child who was crying. I imagine that Jesus said exactly the same thing at the Sermon The Mount!

Still, one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Brian Wise

Brian Wise was the Editor of Addicted To Noise‘s Australian site from 1997 – 2002. The site won two ONYA Awards as Best Online Music Magazine in 1999 & 2000. He has also been Editor since its reincarnation in 2013. He also presents the weekly music interview program Off The Record on 102.7 Triple R-FM (rrr.org.au) in Melbourne. It is networked to 45+ stations across Australia on the Community Radio Network and is a four-time winner of the Best Music Program Award from the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. In 2012, it was nominated as a finalist in the Excellence in Music Programming category. Brian was also the Founding Editor & Publisher of Rhythms Magazine and is now its Senior Contributing Editor.

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