Tenille Townes’ ‘Jersey on the Wall’ Asks Big Questions [LISTEN]
By asking tough, existential questions through the lens of Christian faith, Tenille Townes shatters quite a few commercial country and Americana underdog expectations with her new "Jersey on the Wall (I'm Just Asking)." Press play above to listen.
After we learn of a hometown basketball star's death as a teenager, Townes ponders questions she intends to ask if she ever finds herself in Heaven. They range from innocent ("How do you make a snowflake / And are you angry when the earth quakes?" ) to admissions of lost faith caused by events like car crashes that kill innocent children.
Townes delves deeper into the ways people struggle with faith. Perhaps most poignantly, she brings up the bereaved mother who stopped attending church "because your plan stopped making sense here on Earth."
"This song, and its permission to ask God the hard questions, is so important to me," Townes says in a press release. "I think it's in conversation, and in stepping into that vulnerable place, where we find the healing we might be looking for.
"This was inspired by an incredible group of people in Grand Manan that I had the pleasure of getting to know. They had just been through a horrible tragedy where five students from their high school had gotten into an accident and one of those students, Danielle, passed away," she continues. "I kept in touch with that community and went back for the high school graduation the following year. I sat in the gym, watched Danielle's parents award her honorarium scholarship and on the wall of the gym was Danielle's jersey. I stared at the jersey will all kinds of questions for God."
Those questions touched Townes' own life, too. "Shortly after my trip there, my best friend's little brother passed away and after that somebody I graduated high school with was also killed in an accident. I walked into the writing session with Gordie Sampson and Tina Parole a few months later with all of my emotions and the song found us that day. I'm so grateful it did," she says.
There's no blasphemy here, just a realistic look at the doubts facing congregations, from the minister in the pulpit to the wayward soul sitting in the back pew. It's one of the few newer songs worthy of the old descriptor "three chords and the truth," and sometimes, that truth isn't pleasant.
The song previews Townes' forthcoming debut album for Columbia Nashville. It also offers a glimpse at what she brings to the stage when opening in the coming months as an opening act for Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris.
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