Guest Post: Translation Series #3: “The Coloring Song” by Petra
This is a guest post from NewSoGoFan.
Who??? Yeah, you read right. Petra.
And what, you may ask, is a hard rock band doing in a translation series for Southern Gospel?
Good question. The answer is, normally you’re right, and this group wouldn’t be within 100 miles of anything remotely connected with SG. But today, we’re going to be looking at one of their (very few) redeemable moments, and that’s “The Coloring Song.” From their 1981 release Never Say Die, it’s surprisingly atypical of what most people would think of as a “Petra sound.” It’s not a rock song by any definition of the word. If anything, it has a folk sound. The melody is very spare but very catchy (I’ve caught myself humming it around the house with some frequency of late). The lyrics are poetic and, as the title implies, revolve around colors, specifically red, blue, gold, and brown. They point to Jesus as the only hope, life, and salvation for the soul of man. Give it a listen:
Now, we’re not asking if this could be turned into an SG song, because that’s not the point of any of these entries. The question is, could an SG group take this song and do an arrangement that would work in an SG context?
I think that the answer is yes, but it would have to be done just right. Personally, I can see it working extremely well as a complex acapella piece, weaving together unison, harmony, and even a counter-part or two (a round is just one idea, but something else might work better). Some “doom dooms” could be laid down at the beginning to set the rhythm, then used throughout the arrangement to good effect. As already mentioned, the tune is very spare, so it would take a skilled arranger to thicken the harmonies and add interest to the piece. Which artist should give it a try? I would suggest the Ball Brothers. They have shown an uncanny knack for acapella singing. Plus, they have a very smooth, tight blend, and the light timbres of their voices would fit well with the fresh folk feel of this song.
Too far-fetched? What do you think?