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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Best Song Ever! Vol. Four: "Just a Closer Walk with Thee", By Venice Beach Boys

"I am weak but thou art strong."

I like songs for many reasons. Most of the time it has more to do with how the song sounds and how it makes me feel as opposed to the content or the meaning of the lyrics.

I am not a terribly religious person, but this song has always been among my favorite devotional hymns. When it is performed by the Venice Beach Boys, it is the Best Song Ever!

I've always liked this song. If you simply have to have some sort of Jesus-lovin' devotional tune blaring in your head, at a church, when you'd rather be home watching the game, this is THE song to have playing. It is respectful, but not all too
"churchy" for my tastes. It has always been more of a contemporary song than a hymn in my opinion. Plus, this is among the relatively few catchy religious tunes that also lends itself beautifully to some swingin' arrangements by New Orleans bands, blues musicians & kickin' gospel groups.

So far as I know this is only found on the soundtrack for the film, "White Men Can't Jump". CLICK HERE TO HEAR A SAMPLE AT AMAZON.COM. I've not found a whole lot of other music by the group nor many other mentions of this group outside of this soundtrack. For all I know, this group was assembled simply to perform the song during the opening sequence of the film and that's about it. No matter, this version of the song ROCKS!

Simple instrumentation moves the song along in the form of guitar and a brushed snare drum, but it is the outstanding vocals that makes this so memorable. Only the first two verses of the song are used, and there are elements of doo-wop & swing. You see the Venice Beach Boys performing this a bit on screen and in both the visual performance and on the audio track you get the feeling that these guys are life-long friends who have gotten together to sing cool tunes on a street corner for years. It is filled with fun, excitement, and inspiration.

You can listen to their version of the song even if you've got no religious thoughts in your head whatsoever. If you somehow can't get past the Jesus connection, you simply can't argue the quality, especially if you are a fan of music performed to perfection.

In his younger days, my dad used to sing with a group called the Town Criers (at least I think that was the name). Somewhere there exists a great black & white photo of the group in their white tuxedos and with their instruments. Dad used to fake playing the bass violin and looked cool doing it. He couldn't play a note but he could sing damn well.

He used to sing this song every so often, just because he liked the tune and it made him feel good. He told me stories of how the group would, upon occasion, break into the song with his best friend, Bruce playing clarinet. They'd start off slowly, as if at church and then break into some swingin' version of the song. He always talked about what fun he had with this song and others like it. When I hear the Venice Beach Boys singing this song I often imagine my dad singing with his friend, pretending to play bass, and having a ball.

I wonder if this version is a little like what they played. Even if it isn't similar at all, the Venice Beach Boys' recording of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" is the Best Song Ever! What the hell, today is Sunday, right?

Best Song Ever! Vol. Two: "A Life of Illusion", by Joe Walsh
Best Song Ever! Vol. Three: "Asshole", By Denis Leary



Blogger golfwidow said...

The Venice Beach Boys were a fictional group created for the movie, which is why you can't find anything on them.

That song, no matter who sings it, always reminds me of the movie Heavenly Creatures.

2:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you remember that Bruce played the clarinet and Matt sang "Just A Closer Walk" at your dad's funeral? I still get weepy when I hear any version of that song. I think, btw, that Matt has the picture of the Town Criers.


5:57 AM

Blogger Bud said...

It's a very cool tune in the context that you describe. It would certainly warm my heart in that regard.

12:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, our taste in music is VERY

4:02 PM

Blogger Andy Land said...

Have you listened to the song? Give it a try. You'll come aboard.

4:34 PM


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