Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dining at the Table of Faith: The Holmes Brothers' Feed My Soul

Most gospel music recordings offer songs about testifying to one’s faith in God or seeking forgiveness for one’s sins. So it’s rare to hear religious songs that sometimes question one’s faith. For The Holmes Brothers, whose career has relied on faith-based music, it comes as something of a surprise to hear a few songs about doubt on their new album, Feed My Soul. But considering Wendell Holmes’s bout with cancer in 2008, one might question a lot of things including one’s faith.

For one, Wendell Holmes offers a sad story of loneliness during a time of need on his poignant song, “Fair Weather Friend.” Its subtle indictment of the American medical system speaks to the effects of having his faith shaken by his doctor (“No one would have guessed/That you’d leave me in this mess”). Describing this physician as a fair weather friend was probably the nicest way he could have put his angry response to the treatment proscribed. This song is immediately followed by the up-tempo and inspirational, "Put My Foot Down," where Wendell sings, “You’ve got to put your foot down/So you can hold your head up.” Now the song is really about his woman leaving him for another man, but I can’t help but extrapolate a deeper, more positive meaning for Wendell and his health.

Two tracks later, Wendell exclaims on the baseball-inspired "Rounding Third," “Bye- bye, so long, I’m glad your'e gone … You tried to lay me in my grave, but I’m here, baby, I got the save.” It’s an up-tempo blues with a positive feel. Despite songs filled with doubt and uncertainty, The Holmes Brothers prove on Feed My Soul that they still dine at the table of faith and they've fed their souls.

-- John Corcelli is an actor, writer, musician and theatre director.

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