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HOW TO PLAY THE QUEER GOSPEL

this spring, as i was preparing to start my summer tour season (22 states and counting since april!), i was feeling a deep need to have a song i could carry with me around the country and leave behind for those that might need it. the country was suffering through a spate of dumb-ass “religious freedom” and “bathroom bills”, which i believe are a waste of our legislative resources and a back door for hatred. i decided to write a message of solidarity for folks facing discrimination for their gender expression, sexuality, or just plain, awesome wierdness. though i am not a part of any organized religion, i have a deep spiritual practice that often calls on the language of prayer. thus, a queer gospel.

the shootings in orlando, the police shootings of black men, the violence that has continued to escalate, have only made this song more resonant for me. and, as i tour around, i am hearing directly from folks how much this song has helped them.

the other day in boise ID, during a radio interview, i mentioned how much i would like folks to be playing this song on their own, to let it spread and change beyond the limits of my own version.

“well you should show people how,” the radio DJ, rochelle, suggested.

ok, here goes:

i wrote and usually play this song on piano. the legendary susan werner plays the piano on the recording. but you can play it on guitar or piano. it is in the time signature 6/8, so you would count / 1 2 3 4 5 6 / per measure.

nb: glory holes (NSFW) so you can replace with “our loving homes” in case you need to!


THE QUEER GOSPEL
words and music by erin mckeown

(a capella, use a C7 to get your bearings)
love us as we are
see us and we are holy
in this shall we shall ever be
wholly ourselves
your love will take us far
praise us and we’ll show you
from heaven to the glory holes
glorious and free

/ F – –  –  – Bb/
/ 1 2 3 4 5 6 /
(repeat this vamp through the verse)

there are those who think we’re wicked
there are those who call us names
depraved, lost and sick and
want to bathe us in shame

but we put the sin in sincere
we put the do in the doubt
god is perfectly clear
we are perfectly out

C                      Bb7
love us as we are
F                              C
see us and we are holy
C                                   Bb7
in this shall we shall ever be
F                  C
wholly ourselves
C                                     Bb7
your love will take us far
F                                C
praise us and we’ll show you
C                                 Bb7
from heaven to the glory holes
F                      C
glorious and free

(this section uses a common musical convention of changing the bass note under a chord to make a new chord. on the guitar you would play this Am at the fifth fret with an open 5th string)

      Am         Am/g#    Am/g      D7
i believe in the ritual of lipstick
F                     F7                    G7  (fill in some fun noodles over a G7)
the sanctity of my electric guitar
           Am    Am/g#     Am/g      D7
but its cool if you’re not that catholic
F                  F7                    G7
you can be wherever you are

(key change to D! that’s D for “don’t be scared of the key change”!)

D      / C7     / G7    / G7    /

D                      C7
love us as we are
G                              D
see us and we are holy
D                                   C7
in this shall we shall ever be
G                  D
wholly ourselves

(these chords continue in the pattern for the rest of the song)
your love will take us far
praise us and we’ll show you
from heaven to the glory holes
glorious and free
love us as we are
see us and we are holy
in this shall we shall ever be
wholly ourselves
your love will take us far
praise us and we’ll show you
from heaven to the glory holes
glorious and free
according to us and was ever thus
come join our jubilee
in this shall we shall ever be
(you can play an F for the word “free”. get it? F, for free??)
glorious and free
(before finishing on a big ole D chord)