The urge to connect with that which transcends our experience, be it a higher power, another person or some artistic ideal or aspect of nature, is one of the things that makes us human. People view the object of this quest, as well as what it means to achieve it, differently. Yet regardless of how it is understood, the urge to participate in or belong to something greater and more lasting than ourselves - a feeling born of an awareness of our mortality - is what defines us as spiritual beings. Though often dismissed as ephemeral or, worse, demonic, popular music has given voice to this quest for transcendence since its beginnings. Pop singers are rarely as outwardly spiritual as, say, their gospel counterparts; they're forever pointing beyond themselves, though, be it to some better future, some higher ideal, or to some vision of deliverance. "I'll Take You There" is a beautifully written, wide-ranging and illuminating examination of some of the most potent popular music ever recorded.
Bill Friskics-Warren has written about popular music for the New York Times, Newsday, The Village Voice, The Washington Post, No Depression, The Oxford American and Rock & Rap Confidential, among other publications. He currently is music editor for the Nashville Scene and previously was a lecturer at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. He also is the co-author of Heartaches by the Number, a well-received volume of critical essays about country music's 500 greatest singles that was published by Vanderbilt University Press and the Country Music Foundation Press in 2003.