Ad

Definitive Cuts: Songs Written By George Younce

younce_george_wilson
George Younce

George Younce has certainly been one of gospel music’s three or four most beloved bass singers of all time, if not THE most beloved.  Even though he has now been gone for over a decade, it is still highly doubtable that his singing legacy will diminish anytime soon.  While George’s vocal, emcee, and story-telling abilities have always been his most enduring qualities, it is interesting to note that little attention has been devoted to his works as a songwriter.  George was maybe not quite as prodigious with a lyric as Mosie Lister, Bill Gaither, or Squire Parsons, but his songwriting style reflected much of his stage personality…charming, heartfelt, homespun, and even unpredictable.  This month we will cover sixteen of my favorite songs penned by George Younce.  This article may be lengthier than some of my past efforts, but George wrote a lot more good songs than I had originally realized when I started writing this article.  Hopefully we will shine some additional light on yet another of this legend’s many outstanding talents.

cathedrals3“Better Days”
Cathedral Quartet / Everything’s Alright / Canaan Records / 1971
Personnel:
George Younce, Glen Payne, George Amon Webster, Mack Taunton, Lorne Matthews
Lyric Passage:  “…If we’d only trust in Him, then our paths would not be dim, He will lead us all to better days…”

This fun, and quite unpredictable tune goes from a very slow lyric about the troubles in “this ol’ world” to an mid-tempo hand-clapper halfway through.  Mack Taunton’s tenor voice fit George’s style of music very well.  The style of song and performance is very similar to that of the Statler Brothers, in my opinion.

 

“Give Me a Thankful Heart” (written with Kenny Gates)
Blue Ridge Quartet / Lead Me Back to Calvary / Sing Records / 1965
Personnel: Burl Strevel, Bill Crowe, Elmo Fagg, Ed Sprouse, Kenny Gates
Lyric Passage: “…Thou who giveth love and wooed, and drew this soul apart, That I might show my gratitude, give me a thankful heart…”

During George’s years with the Blue Ridge Quartet, he and pianist Kenny Gates teamed up in writing some excellent songs that have been all but forgotten since the mid 1960s.  This particular song was written by George and Kenny in 1962, but not recorded by the Blue Ridge Quartet until shortly after George departed for the Cathedrals at the end of 1964.  It is a gorgeous lyric with beautiful melody and harmony.  I would even say that it is very worthy of being included in the hymn books.  Kenny Gates has sighted this one as one of his favorites, and I can certainly understand why.

 

“I’m On My Way”
Cathedral Quartet / A Little Bit of Everything / Canaan Records / 1970
Personnel: George Younce, Glen Payne, George Amon Webster, Mack Taunton
Lyric Passage: “I’m on my way, I’m on my way, I’m on my way, to Heaven hair, I’m going there some happy day…Glory, hallelujah, I’m gonna see my Lord and King, and join my voice with the Heavenly band and help the angels sing.”

Many of George’s songs from the early years of the Cathedrals were country as cornbread!  This one certainly answers that description, and in the most charming way.  Not only that, but it is just plain smooooooth.  George and Mack Taunton alternate on verses, with George Amon Webster leading the melody on the choruses.  One of my favorites from this era of the Cathedrals.

 

“It’s Alright”
Cathedral Quartet / Everything’s Alright / Canaan Records / 1971
Personnel:
George Younce, Glen Payne, George Amon Webster, Mack Taunton, Lorne Matthews
Lyric Passage:
“It’s alright with my soul, It’s alright, He made me whole…My King Jesus gave me peace and it’s alright…”

A good mid-uptempo quartet number, this song has been recorded by a few other artists in addition to the Cathedrals.  It was, in fact, the first song I ever heard live by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound when they performed at Gainesville, Georgia, shortly after they began touring in 2003.  The Dixie Echoes from 1972 with featuring Dale Shelnut, Tim Riley, Bobby Clark, and Joe Whitfield on vocals also turned in a very nice performance on their Turn Your Radio On album.

 

cathedrals1976“Jesus Christ, Solid Rock”
Cathedral Quartet / Then and Now / Canaan Records / 1977
Personnel:
George Younce, Glen Payne, George Amon Webster, Roy Tremble, Haskel Cooley
Lyric Passage:
“….We’re in the midnight hour, The lamp is growing dim, And so we’re saying to the world, Won’t you come and try Him?…Jesus, Christ, solid Rock, Jesus, Christ, solid Rock.”

One of George’s more unusual songwriting cuts, due to the fact that it is a trio number with George singing lead vocals and Glen Payne and Roy Tremble stacking harmonies above him.

 

“The Laughing Song”
Cathedral Quartet / Everything’s Alright / Canaan Records / 1971
Personnel:
George Younce, Glen Payne, George Amon Webster, Mack Taunton, Lorne Matthews
Lyric Passage:
“Oh, my name is Ticklish Ruben from way down in old Vermont, I’ve been tickled by almost everything…I’ve been tickled by a feather, I’ve been tickled by a wasp, I’ve been tickled by a yellow bumble bee…”

One of George’s best known songs, not in spite of its pure silliness, but because of its pure silliness, and how well it fit George’s stage personality.  George could already leave his audience in stitches with his story telling.  Follow that up with George laughing uncontrollably for two minutes to music, and you have a classic.

 

“Little Deeds of Love” / “So Dearly”
Cathedral Quartet / Welcome to Our World / Canaan Records / 1972
Personnel:
George Younce, Glen Payne, Roy Tremble, Roger Horne, Lorne Matthews

Honestly, very little to say about these two songs other than they are just very enjoyable songs.  Little Deeds is a mid tempo finger snapper with an unusual bass-tenor duet between George Younce and Roger Horne, and So Dearly is simply beautiful.  Two forgotten songs featuring some great singing by a largely unknown lineup of the Cathedrals.

 

“My Only Hope” (written with Kenny Gates)
Blue Ridge Quartet / A Session with the Blue Ridge / Sing Records / 1962
Personnel:
George Younce, Bill Crowe, Elmo Fagg, Ed Sprouse, Kenny Gates
Lyric Sample:
“My only hope is in the Lord above, and His undying love that made me whole…I thank Him for that day down on my knees, when Jesus heard my plea and saved my soul.”

With his touch on classics like “Thanks to Calvary”, “Suppertime”, and “Who Can Do Anything”, George became known as the master of “bass-lead” deliveries.  Another Gates-Younce collaboration, this is an early George solo giving a glimpse that there would be more of those to come in the years ahead.  The Johnson Sisters gave a beautiful rendition of this number as well.

bluerid - Copy“No Disappointments in Heaven” (written with Kenny Gates)
Blue Ridge Quartet / By His Hand / Sing Records / 1963
Personnel:
George Younce, Bill Crowe, Elmo Fagg, Ed Sprouse, Kenny Gates
Lyric Sample:
“There’ll be no disappointments in Heaven, no more sorrow, no trouble, no pain…No more hearts that are weary or broken, no more souls that are living in sin….”

Perhaps George and Kenny Gates’ best-known collaborative songwriting effort, “No Disappointments” became one of the Blue Ridge Quartet’s most popular songs.  Many other groups followed up on recording this classic, including the Rebels Quartet, Thrasher Brothers, Gospel Harmony Boys, Dixie Melody Boys, and yes, the Cathedrals.  Ed Sprouse gave a beautiful delivery on this song, reportedly in only one take, as well.  “No Disappointments” was also quite a hit for the Rebels Quartet, serving as the title track for their outstanding album featuring lead extraordinaire Jay Berry.  The Cathedral Quartet recorded an equally-memorable version featuring Bobby Clark on their Greatest Gospel Hits album in 1966.

 

bluerid“Sinner’s Prayer” (written with Kenny Gates)
Blue Ridge Quartet / Rose Covered Lane / Sing Records / 1964
Personnel:
George Younce, Bill Crowe, Elmo Fagg, Ed Sprouse, Kenny Gates
Lyric Sample:
“I’m happy now, since my heart is free, I’ve left sin’s dark and lonely sea…Soon I’ll meet my Jesus in the air, and I’ll thank Him for hearing a sinner’s prayer.”

This song followed the trend of some of the spirited slow-to-mid tempo songs such as “I Wouldn’t Trade” by the Speer Family, and “Heavenly Love” written by Vep Ellis.  These days, this song likely would be material for a Lari Goss-style power ballad.  The Blue Ridge performance of this song from the Gospel Singing Caravan survives today, and can be found on YouTube.  It is a gem!

 

“Take His Hand”
Cathedral Quartet / Everything’s Alright / Canaan Records / 1971
Personnel:
George Younce, Glen Payne, George Amon Webster, Mack Taunton, Lorne Matthews
Lyric passage:
“…Life’s battles He will fight with you and you’ll go all the way…Take His hand, take His hand, He’ll lead you all the way.”

Whoever arranged this song, whether it be George or the album’s producer, definitely thought out of the box with this one.  After the verse, the song modulates from A to D, rather unusual when heard by technical ears.  Other than that, no musical bells and whistles here.  No bells and whistles are necessary.  It is just good, smooth flat-footed singing from one of gospel music’s greatest quartets.

 

1968B“Then I Found Jesus”
Cathedral Quartet / A Little Bit of Everything / Canaan Records / 1970
Personnel:
George Younce, Glen Payne, George Amon Webster, Mack Taunton
Lyric Sample:
“…Now no more rain clouds, for He made my heart rainbows, when I found Jesus, I just began to live.”

Another country-style George number, and again prominently alternating features between George and Mack Taunton, this is such an unrelievedly happy song.  If this one doesn’t make you smile, I doubt anything will.  Charlie Waller and the Florida Boys re-recorded this classic in 2009.  When Les Beasley heard the new Florida Boys’ recording of this song, he told Waller he really liked that song.  Waller told him, “I figured you would, you produced it for the Cathedrals forty years ago.”  Les just laughed, he had forgotten!

 

“Yesterday”
Cathedral Quartet / Welcome to Our World / Canaan Records / 1972
Personnel:
George Younce, Glen Payne, Roy Tremble, Roger Horne, Lorne Matthews
Lyric Sample:
“Yesterday things were different, today they’re different again…Jesus will never, never change, Jesus is always the same.”

George’s best-loved song.  Although the Cathedrals of this era were struggling, they certainly had a hit on their hands.  Many of their contemporaries including the Statesmen, the Florida Boys, Prophets Quartet, Trav’lers, and Weatherfords recorded the song, yet the Cathedrals’ version remained the blueprint.  The reason?  Nobody knows the right arrangement quite like the songwriter!  Fast-forwarding nearly forty years, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound gave an outstanding and harmonic rendition of the song on their Tribute to the Cathedral Quartet album, and was in my opinion, the highlight of the album.  The Cathedrals Family Reunion group revived it in great fashion as well, this time staying truer to the original arrangement.

 

“You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet”
Cathedral Quartet / You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet / Canaan Records / 1979
Personnel:
George Younce, Glen Payne, George Amon Webster, Roy Tremble, Haskel Cooley
Lyric Sample:
“…Such singing you will hear, never heard by mortal ear…If you like this quartet, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.”

Another fun little ditty from the 70s Cathedrals, this was featured on the final Canaan Records album featuring Webster, Tremble, and Cooley in 1979.  Producer Vic Clay’s funky-styled 70s influence on the song somehow only adds to the song’s charm.

 

BRQ Younce Crowe“Your Sins Will Find You Out” (written with Kenny Gates)
Blue Ridge Quartet / Our Best to You / Sing Records / 1962
Personnel:
George Younce, Bill Crowe, Elmo Fagg, Ed Sprouse, Kenny Gates
Lyric Sample:
“You better pray, you better stay, down on your knees ’til the light comes shining through…You better sing, you better shout, just be sure that all your sins will find you out.”

Statesmen bass singer “Big Chief” Wetherington must have been on George and Kenny Gates’s mind when they wrote this song.  It features rapid bass-chanting very much reminiscent of Chief’s performances on “Led Out of Bondage” and “Get Thee Behind Me Satan”.  Ernie Haase and Signature Sound also recorded the song on their 2004 album, Great Love.

 

GEORGEI honestly believe that several of these songs need to be heard again.  Groups like Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Mark Trammell Quartet, Second Half Quartet, Cathedrals Family Reunion (or all of the above) would no doubt make tremendous hits of these songs again.  I cannot see a George Younce songwriting tribute album NOT flying off their product tables.  If you haven’t heard these forgotten classics, I strongly advise digging up these songs from the southern gospel archives and giving them a listen!

If you have any further questions, please feel free to email me at alan@alankendallmusic.com.  Thanks and see you next time!

Alan Kendall on FacebookAlan Kendall on LinkedinAlan Kendall on Youtube
Alan Kendall
Contributing Writer at Absolutely Gospel
Alan is a Christian music artist, but performs a wide range of musical styles. He can easily present a clean, family-oriented variety program for all ages. Alan has been blessed to perform on some major stages, including the National Quartet Convention, Dollywood, Grand Ole Gospel Reunion, Memphis Quartet Show, Gospel Jubilee Cruise, and the Georgia Mountain Fair. Alan has performed in large churches, small churches, concert halls, at banquets, picnics, Senior events, youth rallies....anywhere that invites him to present his music. One can be assured that when attending a performance by Alan, you will certainly be entertained, and Alan will work to stir your hearts with the message in the songs!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply