You know, it says Jesus did an awful lot of healing "the lame" in the bible. And I don't mean Lady Gaga fans, I'm talking about the handicapable. But that fact doesn't seem to bother these gospel singers who are maimed, mauled and scarred beyond belief but still sing his praises.

Now, lest you think I'm cruel, we have a family friend who is a blind pastor. But here's the thing: he was born with one eye, and the other was poked out in a basketball game by an ornery 10-year old when he was in junior high. How's that for rotten luck? You think I'd be kneeling at the old rugged cross if I was dealt that hand? Much less cutting gospel records?!? I'd be drinking alone in the dark and cursing to myself, mixing a Downward Spiral follow-up on my Fisher Price tape player.

That's my best guess, as I've never known real adversity and would be a total puss in the face of any physical challenge that doesn't involve me retrieving a bright orange flag from a vat of baked beans. So, I guess I can't tell if these albums are inspirational, exploitative or terrifying...and I don't know if it makes me a prick for posting them....but they are kind of awesome. Enjoy the misery.

Yes, it truly is a miracle to tickle the ivories when you have nothing to tickle them with. There's a guy in my hometown, a lawyer, who comes into a diner every single day and eats breakfast with no hands. He uses utensils like a pro. That's impressive. I've seen a guy with no arms and no legs roll and light a cigarette. Amazing. So equating this woman's hard earned adaptation to a "miracle" is a bit of a stretch, and actually kind of condescending to her when you think about it—as if she had nothing to do with the work that went into learning the organ with no freaking hands. Like, if it were really a miracle, wouldn't Jesus give her new digits? Otherwise that's just a half-assed miracle, and God don't make junk, as my t-shirt once said. ...Also, would "The Handless Organist" be her given Christian name, or is this a nickname she earned later? The record gives no indication. [This one, and a few others, come from Ester Goldberg's blog. Her true treasure lies in heaven for uploading these.]


Illinois: my state invented the corn dog, the ferris wheel, and the Raul Julia of singing midgets. Like The Handless Organist, "The Singing Midget" apparently doesn't have a name—first, last, middle or otherwise. It was also an affront to the tens of other Singing Midgets in Illinois, and spawned the landmark copyright case "Singing Midget v. Billy Barty's Half-Pint Jug Band." In the case of the album's name, "Colorful" is obviously an old-timey way to say "Ghastly" and "Evil in God's Eyes" while seeming fun and innocent. But the Singing Midget knows better, and when these three aren't suspecting it he's going to leap out of that bass cello and gnaw their crusading faces off. Then we'll see who's "colorful."


What Handicapped Gospel Album article would be complete without Little Richard Miller, he who is without arms and legs? I wrote extensively about his life story in comic book form HERE, but still think it bears repeating that this dude is the Conan O' Brian of armless, legless gospel singers. His follow up album—"Jesus, Use Me, Just Not For A Doorstop This Time"—was poorly received, and the tour bus was cut in half and sold to the Singing Midget. Kind of a sad story. Also worth repeating: this album has tracks like "In the Shelter of His Arms." You don't see the Handless Organist doing "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands," you know. That's sick. Also sick? The dude was double-promoted twice in high school. What's that even mean?


I call bullshit—these dudes ain't blind. Look at 'em yuck it up, knowingly. I call bullshit. The fact is, you could get PRET-TY far as a blind act in 1939 and the money was just rollin in and...what's that? They're STILL TOURING 70 YEARS LATER? Man, that's a long time to keep up the blind shtick. Especially after that dust-up with another band calling themselves "The Blind Boys of Alabama," forcing them to add "Original" to their name...and then Gallagher's brother was calling himself "The Blind Boy From Alabama" and...the whole thing just got ugly. They finally had a hit not too long ago and...well, this video kind of makes me goosebumpy. Plus, "their rendition of Tom Waits' 'Way Down in the Hole' was used as the theme song of the HBO series The Wire in its first season" according to Wikipedia. Pretty good for some fake blind fellows. Don't believe me? Listen to the subtext of the song: "Was Blind But Now I See." I'm not asking for "Paul is Dead, Paul is Dead..." but c'mon! Hide your ruse a little better!:


Maybe they should have called this album "Lord, It Is By Faith in Our Calculations Alone That This Trio is a Five-Piece." These guys did a bunch of albums in their day and don't sound half bad, but it's unclear who did what. I think the tall guy sings, and the guy in the wheelchair is like the Professor Xavier of gospel music—I only say that because he's surrounded by mutants. 0101001518

And THAT brings us to this little album I bought not but 2 days ago: Merrill Womach's "Happy Again." So, basically, Merrill Womach is like a burned face version of Mickey Rourke, with a little Tom Waits sprinkled in.


According to the album, the guy was horribly burned after surviving a horrible plane explosion. And, praise be to Jesus, they even show you on the album's inner fold!


Hey, now that's something I wanted to see. You could have just told me "it looked as if someone had taken a marshmallow and left it in the fire too long," and I would have believed you, Mr. Womach. But, no we get to see it. We get to see it all. He even does a song called "Here Comes the Son," because actually doing "Here Comes the Sun," (or "Hot, Hot, Hot," or "Fire Down Below" for that matter) would just be in poor taste. And thank the maker, we get to HEAR him thanks to the magic of the internet. You'll be surprised to learn his vocal chords are completely melted, he sounds like a dehydrated donkey braying out praises. Just kidding, he sounds like this:

"He has promised to dry every tear in my eye..."

Yep. That's fucked up.


Maybe Merrill and this pastor can get together and do a world tour. I mean, I'd pay to see that. If one blown up dude is an inspiration, two would be like an inspiration explosion! scan120
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