Sunday Sidebar: Cody Jinks
By Kevin Broughton
By Kevin Broughton
Every so often in popular music – and mostly in the bro-country glop that inundates the airwaves – someone will drop a Biblical reference. To let folks know they’re in touch with their roots, don’t you know? Maybe just a verse or a phrase: “She ain’t been washed in the blood of the Lamb.” Someone even pointed out a song to me – the singer shall remain nameless – that asserted all one needed to know could be learned from John Cougar, John Deere and…the most famous verse in the New Testament. That is -- if not blasphemous -- tacky, stupid and ham-fisted, to say nothing of presuming one’s audience moronic. It’s a move, generally, to be avoided.
But what if the artist in question makes sincere, authentic, soulful country music? Well, I’ll bet we can carve out an exception for Cody Jinks. His 2016 release I’m Not the Devil (which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard country charts) has, as the title suggests, many spiritual themes.
“There's spiritual imagery in all of my albums, it's just how I write,” says 34-year-old Texan Jinks. “That’s me.”
My first listen to Jinks’ album was a couple months after its August release. As it happened, I had listened to a podcast on Christ’s Sermon on the Mount not an hour before. Understandably, my antennae went up when I heard these lyrics from “Give All You Can”:
But I remember Matthew 5,
I'm thankful to be alive.
And I know there's people on that mountain
Who are a lot like me.
“'Give All You Can' definitely asks questions to the listener,” says Jinks, “but they're the same questions I ask of myself. Having said that, we had a lot of fun cutting that one because of what we did musically at the end of it; it’s one of my favorites on the record.”
All well and good; still, one gets the feeling this wasn’t a casual Biblical reference dropped in to establish some sort of cultural street-cred with potential listeners below the Mason-Dixon.
“I've probably read Matthew 5 as much as anything in the Bible,” Jinks says. “It's a tough life. People are people, and we all share the same wants, needs, and desires. Everyone falls short.”
Nope, not a casual reference at all. “The Beatitudes and Similitudes are the epitome of how we should live and think,” he continues. “The Sermon on the Mount was intended for people that were in dire need; some things never change.”
True, but some things do. And there’s a need for more songs like this one – and albums like this one, which is a 2016 Top 10 for me. We could all use a dose or two of “change” like this.