The Inspirations at 50, Part 1

This year, the Inspirations celebrate their fiftieth anniversary. We’re going to commemorate this landmark milestone with a series looking at ten of their all-time greatest albums.

#10: Two Shoes (1998)

inspirations1998twoshoes1000The Inspirations’ Canaan era made them legends. After signing with Crossroads, they quickly returned to the top of the genre. Two Shoes is the strongest release of the interregnum. It contained two songs, “Two Shoes” and “Resurrection Ground,” that remained concert favorites for over a decade. Perhaps partially because of how much the song meant to him personally, the latter song became Matt Dibler’s signature song. With Dibler’s recent return to the group, the song returned with him.

Song list: Thousands Of Tears; In God’s Hands; It’s Been Worth Every Mile; Walk A Little Farther; Anything Goes; Don’t You Want To Come Along; Resurrection Ground; Always Have, Always Will; I Want To Go There; Two Shoes.


 

#9: Touring The City (1973)

inspirations1973touringthatcitymaxIf for no other reason, this album deserves a spot on any top ten list for its title track alone. “Touring That City” became tenor Archie Watkins’ signature song.

Song list: Touring That City; The Fa Sol La Song; I Know He Hears; Love Reached Down; I’ll Make It To Heaven Some Day; Matthew 24; On Higher Ground; Only One Door; I Believe He Died For Me; When I Walk On Streets Of Gold; I Can’t Do It Alone; After The Sunrise.


 

#8: Pure Vintage (2001)

inspirations2001purevintagemaxAfter spending over a decade as an independent artist, the Inspirations’ decision to sign with one of the genre’s premier labels, Crossroads, proved momentous for the group’s history. After years without a major presence in awards or #1 hits, this album, and its mega-hit “I’ll Not Turn My Back On Him Now,” immediately put the group back on top. The song was a #1 hit for two months in January and February 2002, and it also won Song of the Year at the Singing News Fan Awards.

Song list: I’ll Not Turn My Back On Him Now; The Great I Am; He Broke The Chains; Prayer Moves The Heart; Mercy At Midnight; Heaven Gets Sweeter; He Swept Me Off My Feet; When Jesus Shall Reign; The Book, The Blood, The Blessed Hope; Endangered The Christian Family.


 

#7: Cool Water (1964 or 1965)

inspirations1964coolwatermaxWith how amazing the Insiprations’ run with Canaan was, it’s easy to overlook how strong their early work is. (Or perhaps it’s because of how hard these albums are to find.) They had been together only a year or two when they recorded this album, yet it is filled with strong performances in their already distinctive style. Songs like “On The Sunny Banks” and “He’ll Hold to My Hand” would make at least intermittent apperances in their live concerts for decades. This remarkable release is the strongest of their early years.

Song list: On The Sunny Banks; I Will Follow Thee; Gettin’ Ready To Leave This World; Gonna Sit Down And Rest A Little While; When We Get Home; Cool Water; I Love To Call On Jesus’ Name; Glorified Body; Well Done My Child; He’ll Save My Soul; He’ll Hold My Hand; Come Spring.


 

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Song Snapshots #30: Mary’s Wish

Song Snapshots is a column featuring the stories behind new and classic Southern Gospel songs.

Ask Joseph Habedank which song, of all the songs he has written, is his all-time favorite. You might be surprised! He won’t name one of his #1 hits, or even his Song of the Year-winning landmark hit “If You Knew Him.” He will name a song Ivan Parker recorded in 2011, “Mary’s Wish.”

Joseph Habedank and Matthew Holt became close friends and began writing songs together when they were both members of The Perrys. They continued writing together after Matthew left the group in 2008.

One day, shortly after Matthew’s departure, the Perrys bus was parked at a Wal-Mart in Huntington, Tennessee. Matthew drove out to Huntington to meet Joseph at the bus and take him out to write and do lunch. As they walked into O’Charley’s, Matthew asked Joseph, “What’s the song you’re wanting to write?”

Joseph sang him the chorus to “Mary’s Wish.” He recalls, “Matthew started crying, which he doesn’t do very often—he’s not a crier. It moved him.” After lunch, parked Matthew’s car in an alley next to a Kohl’s, and finished the song in his car.

The song was inspired by a comment Matthew’s wife Lindsey made while she was expecting their first child (their son, Fletcher). That December, as Fletcher’s due date drew near, she told Matthew, “Now that the time’s come, I’m almost a little apprehensive about exposing him to the world. I almost wish I could keep him inside of me.”

She paused, then added, “I can’t imagine how Mary must have felt.”

“That was one of the more special songs we’ve ever written,” Habedank recalls, “probably my favorite thing that I’ve ever had a hand in.”

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