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Life's Railway To Heaven by jc4u

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jc4u 105


Life's Railway To Heaven


Southern Gospel




1 Comment | 9 Views

jc4uLEVEL 105

Recording information by jc4uSNAP-STAR

"Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen." Blessings!

Thank you, sweetsuejustyou, for this new-to-me Southern Gospel song!

Charles Davis Tillman (March 20, 1861, Tallassee, Alabama – September 2, 1943, Atlanta, Georgia)—also known as Charlie D. Tillman, Charles Tillman, Charlie Tillman, and C. D. Tillman—was a popularizer of the gospel song. He had a knack for adopting material from eclectic sources and flowing it into the mix now known as southern gospel, becoming one of the formative influences on that genre.

The youngest son of Baptist preacher James Lafayette Tillman and Mary (Davis) Tillman, for 14 years prior to 1887 he painted houses, sold sheet music for a company in Raleigh, North Carolina, and peddled Wizard Oil. In 1887 he focused his career more on his church and musical talents, singing first tenor in a church male quartet and establishing his own church-related music publishing company in Atlanta.

"Old-Time Religion"
In 1889 Tillman was assisting his father with a tent meeting in Lexington, South Carolina. The elder Tillman lent the tent to an African American group for a singing meeting on a Sunday afternoon. It was then that young Tillman first heard the spiritual "The Old Time Religion" and then quickly scrawled the words and the rudiments of the tune on a scrap of paper. Tillman published the work to his largely white church market in 1891. Tillman was not first in publishing the song, an honor which goes to G. D. Pike in his 1873 Jubilee Singers and Their Campaign for Twenty Thousand Dollars. Rather, Tillman's contribution was that he culturally appropriated the song into the repertoire of white southerners, whose music was derived from gospel, a style that was a distinct influence on Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. As published by Tillman, the song contains verses not found in Pike's 1873 version. These possibly had accumulated in oral tradition or/and were augmented by lyrics crafted by Tillman. More critically, perhaps, Tillman's published version of the tune has a more-mnemonic cadence which may have helped it gain wider currency. Tillman's emendations have characterized the song ever since, in the culture of all southerners irrespective of race. The SATB arrangement in Tillman's songbooks became known to Alvin York and is thus the background song for the 1941 Academy Award film Sergeant York, which spread "The Old-Time Religion" to audiences far beyond the South. Following Tillman's nuanced example, editors with a largely white target market such as Elmer Leon Jorgenson formalized the first line as "'Tis the old-time religion" (likewise the repeated first line of the refrain) to accommodate the song more to the tastes of white southern church congregations and their singing culture.

"Life’s Railway to Heaven"
In 1890, Tillman set to music a hymn by Baptist preacher M.E. Abbey, "Life's Railway to Heaven." (Abbey had drawn from an earlier poem, "The Faithful Engineer," by William Shakespeare Hays.)

Also known by its first line "Life is like a mountain railroad", the song has been recorded by Boxcar Willie, the Carter Family, the Chuck Wagon Gang, Mother Freddie J. Bell on YouTube, The Oak Ridge Boys, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Brad Paisley, Russ Taff, the Amazing Rhythm Aces, and many others. Tillman’s tune is in 3/4 time, but a 4/4 version became also widespread after Patsy Cline recorded it that way in 1959 as a solo; Willie Nelson later dubbed his voice into that version to form a duet. On January 14, 2012, Brad Paisley performed a 4/4 rendition as guest on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion.

Members of the Western Writers of America chose the song as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.[