Where else but Nashville can you be a part of an audience for a radio show taping that talks about justice, death row, Will Campbell, English-only laws, revivalist preachers, and climaxes with an ensemble performance of Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind by musical guests Vince Gill, Buddy Greene, Odessa Settles, Stuart Duncan, Sonya Isaacs, and more?
Last night kicked off the 2009 season of the Tokens Radio Show, described by host and creator Lee Camp as “part theology lecture, part cultural analysis, part old-time radio show, part good conversation, [and] part good music…” I was able to attend one show last year, the Christmas show where my friend Andrew Peterson was one of the musical guests, and thought it was brilliantly conceived and well executed. Last night’s show, Justice Songs, included one skit based on the recent English-Only law that (fortunately) failed to pass here in Nashville, hypothesizing what a conversation would sound like in a Mexican restaurant between the waiter and the guy ordering the food if the law had passed. Would you like that baby donkey roll on a stick in an Arizona bean holder?
One guest was attorney Brad MacLean, who was interviewed about his work with death row inmates. He mentioned a series of newspaper articles that had defended different sides of the death-row issue, concluding with a question from a nun about asking yourself if you could pull the lever. A rabbi wrote in and said that yes, he could absolutely pull the lever, enthusiastically even, if the crime were bad enough. Which was exactly the reason he opposed the death penalty. I was reminded of the great post Shaun wrote recently quoting Stanley Hauerwas on his reasons for his non-violent beliefs: “I’m a pacifist because I’m a violent son of a bitch.”
Will Campbell, author of Brother to a Dragonfly (which I picked up today at my favorite used bookstore when I took my friend Randall there for the first time) had recorded an interview with Lee Camp, which was played with Camp interjecting more comments in between Campbell’s responses. At one point, Campbell mentioned the statement he is probably most famous for, his summation of the Gospel: “We’re all bastards, but God loves us anyway.”
Vince Gill sang two songs, one a country song and the other a bluegrass song, Odessa Settles blew everyone away as usual with her soulful interpretations of spirituals, Buddy Greene sang the old Stephen Foster song Hard Times Come Again No More, Sonya Isaacs sang Darrell Scott’s You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive, and the house band, the Most Outstanding Horeb Mountain Boys, were great as usual.
You can hear clips from the show – and an extended interview with Brad MacLean about his work with death-row inmates – on the program’s website, www.tokensshow.com.