My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Classic Rewind: Loretta Lynn – ‘Who Says God Is Dead?’


5 responses to “Classic Rewind: Loretta Lynn – ‘Who Says God Is Dead?’

  1. luckyoldsun April 24, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    This was an “answer song”….to Time Magazine.
    In 1966, Time put out an issue whose cover asked the question “Is God Dead?”
    Though the article inside never suggested that God IS dead, the question turned out to be quite provocative and controversial. Evidently, the issue was big enough in country circles for Loretta to fashion an album around it.,16641,19660408,00.html

  2. Ken April 26, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Your contention that one magazine inspired that song is without a solid foundation. This song was likely not written because of just ONE magazine story. Magazines seldom create a brand new narrative but publicize a topic or concept that has already gotten significant traction in the culture. The “God is dead” concept arose a century earlier by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche but gained new disciples during the early 1960’s especially from the counterculture movement. Anyone alive during that decade including Loretta would have heard that phrase echoed loudly by a variety of media sources on TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. It was not limited to just Time Magazine. As expected the concept was widely criticized by all religious denominations which only gave that issue additional publicity. As a person with strong religious convictions Loretta obviously took exception and made her views known via her lyrics.

    The original liner notes for Loretta’s “Who Says God Is Dead!” 1968 Decca album states:
    “The title song was written by Loretta and was inspired by her belief in the great power of religion. With the world in a state of political, economic and religious unrest, there is a serious need for all of us to believe and have faith, each in his own way.”

    No mention of Time Magazine.

    • luckyoldsun April 26, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      I tend to doubt that Loretta Lynn picked up on the “Is God Dead?” issue from hanging out with and debating Nietzche disciples at the Ethical Culture Society, but hey, one never knows.

      Time–which was the leading weekly magazine in the U.S.– brought the subject to the American mainstream with its April, 1966 cover, inciting a cultural controversy and backlash–as amply described below. Loretta’s song, “Who Says God Is Dead?,” is clearly her responding to, or taking part in the public discussion spurred by the Time cover.

      Is God Dead?
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      April 8, 1966, cover of Time magazine
      “Is God Dead?” was an April 8, 1966, cover story for the news magazine Time.[1] A previous article, from October 1965, had investigated a trend among 1960s theologians to write God out of the field of theology. The 1966 article looked in greater depth at the problems facing modern theologians, in making God relevant to an increasingly secular society. Modern science had eliminated the need for religion to explain the natural world, and God took up less and less space in people’s daily lives. The ideas of various scholars were brought in, including the application of contemporary philosophy to the field of theology, and a more personal, individual approach to religion.

      The issue drew heavy criticism, both from the broader public and from clergymen. Much of the criticism was directed at the provocative magazine cover, rather than the content of the article. The cover – all black with the words “Is God Dead?” in large red text – marked the first time in the magazine’s history that text with no accompanying image was used.

      April 13, 2009, cover of Newsweek magazine
      The publication of the article immediately led to a public backlash. Editorial pages of newspapers received numerous letters from angry readers, and clergymen vehemently protested the content of the article.[4] Even though the article itself explored the theological and philosophical issues in depth, “[m]any people…were too quick to judge the magazine by its cover and denounced Time as a haven of godlessness”.[8] For Time the issue caused around 3,500 letters to the editor—the largest number of responses to any one story in the history of the magazine.[9] Reader criticism was targeted at Thomas J. J. Altizer in particular.[4] Altizer left Emory in 1968, and by the end of the decade the “death of God” movement had lost much of its momentum.[4] In its issue of December 26, 1969, Time ran a follow-up cover story asking, “Is God Coming Back to Life”?[10]

      The magazine cover also entered the realm of popular culture: in a scene from the 1968 horror movie Rosemary’s Baby, the protagonist Rosemary Woodhouse picks up the issue in a doctor’s waiting room.[11] The “Is God Dead?” issue was to have an enduring place in American journalism. In 2008, the Los Angeles Times listed the issue in a featured titled “10 magazine covers that shook the world”.[5]

      • Ken April 26, 2016 at 9:50 pm

        Sorry but as usual you missed the point and none of us are surprised. The “God is dead” issue had already permeated much of the culture in the 1960’s even BEFORE the Time article was written. If you re-read my last post I made that abundantly clear. Time Magazine was not the only outlet to publicize that concept. Your unsubstantiated claim that Loretta picked up on that topic only because of that magazine story is a big reach. She could have heard about it on TV. Perhaps she read a newspaper story. Maybe it was the topic of a sermon at her church. You have absolutely no proof that the magazine story was the source for her inspiration. And you’re angry because once again you are wrong and I called you out.

        By the way it’s not necessary to cut and paste an entire article. You can just insert a link. I NEVER use Wikipedia as a primary source as it is rife with errors.

        • luckyoldsun April 27, 2016 at 1:48 am

          Much as you’d like to turn this into a never-ending personal chat between you and me about every opinion that I hold, I’ve gotten the distinct impression that the moderators of this site frown on that. So I’ll just have to concede that you’re right so that we can move on to other things in life. Cheers.

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