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Feb 25

“Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is”: Behind the Song with Rodney Griffin

GriffinEven during my first listens to Greater Vision’s most recent recording, For All He’s Done, one song began to stand out among the others.  “Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is” is a fun listen musically, and also contains a forthright lyric pointed right at the preacher man.  Even though it’s sung “to” the preacher, its message should be convicting to any Christian: do I recognize my need for preaching from the “whole counsel of God”?  Do I desire a message that convicts, even at the expense of my pride?  “Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is” really spoke to me, and I placed it #2 on my list of favorite recorded songs of 2013.  Even better, it has become a smash hit on gospel music radio, reaching #1 on the Singing News chart for the month of March.  It has been a great encouragement to me to see the success of this song, and this message.

The man behind this Greater Vision song, as is often the case, is Rodney Griffin, recipient of the Singing News Fan Award for Favorite Songwriter for an amazing fifteen years running.  “Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is” is his 14th #1 song, second-most of any writer.  And this is a song that deserves to be remembered among his finest.  Griffin graciously agreed to share with me and the readers of Southern Gospel Critique the story behind “Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is”.  Enjoy!

 


Did the idea for the lyric come from something specific, or a general observation about the state of preaching today?  What was your goal for the message of the song?

I was out mowing my yard one day, and for some reason I began thinking about the growing timidity in our church pulpits.  Some of the largest churches seem to hear the smallest dose of conviction from the pulpit.  These days, it seems you’ll draw a larger crowd if you don’t “offend”.  I believe, however, that you can present truth without a mean spirit.  Even with a calm tone of voice you can relate the holiness of God, and its demands, to a listener.  These professional “speakers” seem to stay away from any confrontation of sin.  That goes against biblical principle.  My goal was to encourage those pastors who desire to speak truth, to not be afraid to do so.  When this life is over, we will be thankful that someone told us like it “was” and not like we “wished it were”.  There is a Holy God, human sin, a wondrous cross and an eternity somewhere.  We can’t get around it.  That’s the way it is. Why shouldn’t we be honest about that and try to help people find the cross before it’s too late?

 

Musically, the cut has a distinct country sound, quite different from many of your songs.  Were you trying to go “country” with it, or did it just come out that way?

When we recorded the track, at first, we wanted to stay away from the “country” sound.  But, the more the studio instrumentalists played the song, the more “country” it sounded.  It felt natural, so we went with it.  I’m glad we did.  It’s definitely a different musical sound for us and works well in concert.

 

Was this a song you felt you would be featured on from the start?  Is it typical to write with yourself, Gerald Wolfe, or Chris Allman in mind as a featured vocalist?

I thought all along that it was a song that I would enjoy singing, but I wasn’t thinking of us when I wrote it.  I was thinking more of a slower, progressive ballad sound, musically.  In the end, I was glad that I got to sing the song.  Every night, I just imagine sitting across from a pastor at his desk.  If I could say anything to him, what would it be?  This song is exactly what I would say.

Yes, I do write with certain singers in mind, but rarely do they end up recording the song.  Haha!

 

The song has risen to #1 on the Singing News chart for March, which many consider to be a measure of success.  And rightfully so, to an extent.  As a songwriter, what makes a song a success to you?  How has “Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is” measured up according to those personal standards?

Every artist and writer enjoys it when a song goes to #1.  But, that excitement quickly passes as a new month comes, and a new song is named #1.  To me, the greatest measure of success for this song is when a pastor comes up to me to personally and thanks me for writing the song.  That’s success.  To think that something I wrote helped a pastor to be more bold in the pulpit last Sunday….Wow.  What could be more fulfilling?

13 comments

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  1. Nancy Huebner

    My husband and I heard this song when Greater Vision sang it in Wooster Ohio recently. The message is powerful!

  2. Carol Corey

    WOW!! what a wonderful message, its powerful !!! am looking forward to you singing it at Branson the 13th 14th and 15th of Mar.

  3. Gloria Wheeler

    Rodney, We love the song, “Preacher, Tell Me Like it Is” !! This song is a good reminder not only for our preachers, but for we laymen. All of us NEED to be reminded of what we are and should be about as believers!! The song makes us sit up and listen; bringing our attention to Christ and our need to focus on him!! The “country style” of the song is good for putting the message across!!! Love it!! God Bless you and the guys!! – Bill and Gloria Wheeler

  4. Randy Shank

    My wife and I really enjoy Greater Vision. We see you when you come to Friendship Baptist Church in Cincinnati.
    Rodney, you are the leading song writer of this generation.

  5. John Allen (Gospel Road Trio)

    Not to take ANYTHING away from other song writers of our time but I truly believe you have a gift from God. Have been so blessed hearing and singing your songs for many years. Brother, keep “telling it like it is”. God will be glorified and lost souls will be brought to His saving grace.

  6. Ginny Yerden

    I love the message in this song! Thank you, Rodney, for letting God use you in penning these words! Today’s pastors need to listen to this. Thank God I have a pastor who does just that! He’ll is real and he isn’t afraid to tell everyone about it. He tells us what the Bible says….. I’m sorry he didn’t get picked in the contest but I hope you got thousands to choose from who tell it like it is! We love you and Chris and Gerald! Keep on singing His praises!

  7. Faith Bradbury

    I love the song, what a powerful message. I have listened to your group now for several years and I can say Greater always gives God the glory and praise for what they accomplish. I love being concerts with them. They have a wonderful spirit also. And that is important. So keep singing and praising until Jesus comes! God bless Greater Vision!

  8. Shirley Hogge

    Love this “Preacher tell me like it is”….but LOVE “Faces” and It will always hold a special place in my heart, written by a truly talented man, about an awesome dad and role model, Thank you Rodney for the great gift you gave us in this song…who knew. Love you!

  9. Brenda

    Awesome song Rodney, the msg. Is so true. Love.all.of GV’s song but as Shirley said there are some favorites that are really dear to the heart. Congratulations my friend on another # 1 you guys are such wonderful servants for our Lord keep up the awesome work and to God be the glory Amen

  10. Carolyn Hunt

    I love the songs you write. They truly tell all of us that listen that the Lord loves, convicts, and challenges us to speak up and be bold . Thanks for hearing from the Lord and being faithful to write what He shows you to put down. We love Greater Vision.

  11. Bonnie Howden

    This is one of the finest songs You have ever written! Love it! Your delivery is great! 🙂

  12. Debbie Owen

    I love this new song you have written and I have purchased it for myself and a copy for our Pastor who truly preaches God’s truths every Sunday. The song speaks volumes of just how it should be! I think this song will go down in history as one of the most popular among Southern Gospel Songs. I didn’t think I could love another song as I did “Faces”, but this new one is climbing to my favorite too. Greater Vision is such a blessing to me and my family.

  13. cheryl Ashmore

    The song, “Preacher tell me like it is”, was a blessing to my husband and I. We are so weary of preachers more worried about numbers than the whole counsel of God.

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