Scrabble-Rousers #3: Reign

17 May

Today’s word – reign – comes from Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars and is used in reference to Nero, the tyrannical emperor of Rome who was favored by the masses but murdered his mother.

"OK, now pout as if you've just executed your mother. Perfect!"

Make of that what you will or go google Nero.

I can’t think of a single song, but there is an entire genre that “reign” brings to mind and that is gospel music. Some of our favorite musicians grew up listening to and singing gospel music – Johnny Cash, Elvis, Sam Cooke among many, many others. Given the context of today’s word, there is seemingly no better choice than to give you gospel legend Shirley Caesar singing “He Holdeth the Reigns.”

Share Don’t Drive Your Mama Away by Shirley Caesar

With that said, there were a few other nominees that need to be mentioned such as Bernie Williams’ rendition of “He Reigns.” This has no direct or indirect connection to Nero’s term as temporary tyrant, but is worth noting because of Williams’ connection to another tyrannical dynasty – The New York Yankees. The former All-Star center fielder, who cranked out over 2,3oo base hits in his career, now cranks out smooth jazz hits like this:

Another close (but oh so far) match was “He Lives and He Reigns” by Stamatis Spanoudakis. The Greek composer’s homage to Alexander the Great is a lot like the stuff you hear from the now-deceased Sam Spence on NFL Films programming. It is powerful, but evokes a certain sensitivity to its subject:

Finally, completely unrelated to anything, is simply the biggest surprise while searching for songs with the word “reign” in it. Stumbling across “Freedom Reign” by The Tenebrous Liar, the band name called for an obligatory listen. The automatic song playing on their website sounded as if J.J. Cale and Nick Cave collaborated in the studio, and it just got better from there. They wear their influences on their sleeve, assuming they listened to a lot of Joy Division, Bauhaus and dark new wave acts – especially on tracks like “Cut Down Your Love” and “Suffer You.” These guys aren’t ripoff artists though, as the sound comes across as fresh.

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One Response to “Scrabble-Rousers #3: Reign”

  1. Robby May 18, 2010 at 2:30 am #

    I submit for your consideration, The Who’s “Love Reign O’er me” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygOaNo3M_Hw

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