Song Of The Day 12/3/2016: Sri Darwin Gross – “At the Grass Roots”

The Art Of Giving Up -- This is one of my favorites in the annals of incredibly strange music, and I have no real idea what it's supposed to signify. Darwin Gross was at one point the leader of a religious movement called Eckankar. I didn't know this until years after I'd heard "At the Grass Roots," but once I did research I realized I'd seen the iconic "EK" logo as a kid and had no idea what it was.

I don't have a lot of time to get into it, but for alternative religious movements Eckenkar seems fairly harmless. No cult-y intimidation tactics, no real controversies aside from a brief plagiarism dust-up early in their existence. Kind of a smorgasbord of ideas from India and Tibet, filtered down through some sort of process or another. They seem perfectly reasonable. Well, I mean, fundamentalist Xians aren't nuts about them, but you expect that. As for me, well, I'm in the Church of the Poison Mind, so I'll probably pass on EK.

Anyway, Sri Darwin Gross led Eckenkar after founder Paul Twitchell died. Gross had some experience as a jazz vibraphonist. I heard some of his jazz stuff. Not terrible, not mind-blowing (although he managed to get jazz heavyweights like Ray Brown and Hank Jones to back him up). But there's certainly nothing at all like "At the Grass Roots" from his 1972 album It Just Is!, a gentle attempt at religious conversion using the compositional tools of early Disney animated musicals. This was after the Jesus freaks and Hare Krishnas had shown up with their aggressively modern and/or indigenous-esque musical efforts, so the identification of Gross' target audience remains as elusive as the path to enlightenment.

Here's their logo. Look familiar?

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