It’s funny how one random item on the Web can lead you through a tunnel of connections you never imagined yourself following. Today’s rabbit hole was pointed out by my friend Phil Inzinga of the Inzinga and Spinozi Afternoon Show on 96.9 BOB FM in Oklahoma City.
Phil posted a video of a Southern Gospel song to Facebook. The hymn, “Looking for a City,” was written by Marvin P. Dalton of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who died November 28, 1987 at the age of 81. The video above shows “Looking for a City” performed by The Chuck Wagon Gang. It is not the same clip that Phil posted.
There isn’t a whole lot about Marvin P. Dalton on the Web, but apparently “Looking for a City” was one of the bigger successes among the more than 200 songs he wrote. Another of Dalton’s hymns with a similar theme is called “We’ll Tour the Golden City.”
This is not the video Phil Inzinga posted, but, unexpectedly, you can hear the same idea echoed in the song “City of Gold,” on the 1974 debut album Flat as a Pancake from Central Illinois rock band Head East. Following a battle with drug addiction in about 1980, Head East’s lead singer John Schlitt became a born-again Christian and later joined the pioneering Christian rock band Petra.
In the King James version of the Bible, a “golden city” is mentioned in Isaiah 14:4, but this is an obvious mistranslation. The more impressive reference is to New Jerusalem, described in Revelation 21:9-27 as “coming down out of heaven from God,” and glittering “like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond.” New Jerusalem is made of many precious materials: “The wall was built of diamond, and the city of pure gold, like clear glass.”
Televangelist Jimmy Swaggart has also popularized “Looking for a City.” This is not the clip Phil Inzinga posted, but it’s a fairly rousing rendition. Despite the second pianist inconspicuously playing beside him, you get the impression that Swaggart plays well. He is, of course, the the cousin of rock’n’roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis and country music star Mickey Gilley.
Perhaps the most famous cover of “Looking for a City” is the version by the Southern Gospel group The Happy Goodmans from TV’s The Gospel Singing Jubilee. After tenor Johnny Cook joined the group in 1974, “Looking for a City” was used to showcase his range in a competition of sorts with Vestal Goodman, both of them climbing a dizzying vocal staircase up the song’s key changes.
Phil Inzinga did not post this Happy Goodmans clip, but I have included it — and the others — in order to give you some background regarding the video Phil did post. This way, if you weren’t before, you are now at least a little familiar with the song and the way it has been approached in the past. It’s a bit of a showpiece, as would befit a golden city in the sky. Done well, it can really dazzle.
The video Phil did post is apparently the final number in a set by a vocalist out of Gospel Light Baptist Church in Salisbury, North Carolina.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is James Canupp:
He’s kidding, right? If not, I think someone should investigate the possibility that the Stuxnet virus has made the leap to humans.
More James Canupp videos can be found on jamescanupp’s channel on YouTube.
Update: It looks like James Canupp has removed all of his videos from YouTube.