Down, down, down...
One of my first truly impressive childhood memories comes from riding in the backseat of a car moving down a country road through a black Arkansas night and hearing some deep voice rumble out of the radio, more speaking than singing, "Love, is a burning thing. And it makes, a fiery ring. Bound, by wild desire. I fell into a ring of fire."
I sat up, captivated. What was this? I'd heard radio evangelists on late-night radio preaching the gospel to insomniacs, promising divine love and threatening infernal hell, but this bottomless voice offered love as hell.
In that instant came the chorus, and I realized that the man was singing, but in a way that I'd never heard before:
I, fell, in, to, a burning ring of fire,
I went down, down, down,
and the flames, went higher,
and it burns, burns, burns,
the ring of fire,
the ring of fire.
Then those distant, unexpected horns, unlike anything that I'd ever heard in country music. This stuff sounded like country and gospel and something south of the border but transcending all of them. Who was this guy?
I soon found out.