It is strangely honest, though certainly melodramatic, storytelling in song such as this that keeps me intrigued by Southern soul while commercial radio music once steeped in chronicling real life, like soul gospel and mainstream country, leave me wanting.
"Preacher Was a Home Wrecker"
Ah, the narrative riches of Southern soul! Stan Butler beats his listeners to much of the punch of his latest* single's lyrical story, but how he gets there and its rationale and implications compel repeated listening, if only to assess exactly what's going on here.
South Georgian Butler, in a half-halting talk/sing hybrid redolent of forebears such as Percy Sledge and J. Blackfoot, tells of how a friend at work invited him and his wife to church. Hubby's getting some sanctification out of the deal, whereas his Mrs. gets to the point where "she couldn't stand me."
This congregation's Deacon Jones hips Butler to the fact that his pastor is sexing the new adherent's spouse. There's where the title comes into play.
Our hero confronts the man of the cloth about wifey's ongoing infidelity with him. going so far as to deem him a "dirty dog,"***SPOILIER ALERT!*** Not at all being an exemplar of repentance, the villainous cleric points his finger at Butler while declaring that his woman was forced into adultery because he whose ring she's wearing isn't "giving her what she needs."
So, just how horny is this woman and/or lacking in boudoir acumen is Butler's character? Is the song's titular pulpit pimp some sort of priapic freak servicing the carnal craving's of all of his unhappily wed distaff congregants? If Deacon Jones knew about this situation, who else in his flock knows of this preacher's adulterous ways? Might "Preacher Was a Home Wrecker" have ended more satisfyingly had the preacher been the recipient of a hellacious haymaker to the chops or crotch? Is this piece played as a slow dance at Southern soul night spots, perhaps in the same mix as Butler's "I Took Grandma to the Club" or "Tootie Boot"**? Can this be heard as a an inversion of Butler's own "Who Says The Grass Is Not Greener on the Other Side"? Doesn't she playing Mrs. Butler in the vid' look like she's having a bit too much fun breaking up the guys from engaging in faux fisticuffs? And does this ditty have any basis in anyone's reality?
At least Butler is singing about church, albeit a manifestation of it possibly more steeped in cultural Churchianity than the transformative power of the biblical gospel, in a genre where mention of it is welcome, perhaps even expected occasionally. And however much its characters may be dysfunctional and impotent (the latter figuratively, at least), it is strangely honest, though certainly melodramatic, storytelling in song such as this that keeps me intrigued by Southern soul while commercial radio music once steeped in chronicling real life, like soul gospel and mainstream country, leave me wanting. An entire album of material by Butler strong and enigmatic as "Wrecker" would be a treat.
*Far north as I'm hearing it, anyway
**Named for a dance apparently best performed by women blessed with ample backsides, though I'm not the only one for whom it reads like a condition for which some Beano could be helpful, am I?