Music and Mayberry

Andy Griffith’s name is as synonymous with music as it is “The Andy Griffith Show”(TAGS). When he was a child in Sunday School in Mt. Airy, North Carolina where he was born and raised (and one of the inspirations for Mayberry), Andy claims, “I would sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ so loud that everybody would notice.” He says when he hit his teens he discovered big band and swing music and he also saw
‘Birth of the Blues’ which starred Bing Crosby. “Of course, it had Dixie Land Band. At some point Jack
Teagarten, one of the great trombone players, took the slide off his trombone and played with a water
glass on the end of his slide. I thought that was the neatest thing.” So began Griffith’s life-long love affair with music.
Griffith took music lessons and voice lessons from a local pastor in high school. This pastor had a great influence on young Andy and encouraged him to pursue a career in the ministry. However, in college Griffith changed his major from a ministerial degree to a music degree. “After graduation I took a job teaching high school choral music in Goldsboro, North Carolina. I was director of the choir at the First Baptist Church there and for a while I conducted the community chorus.” He continued in this position until the acting bug bit him but even then, music was always a part of Andy Griffith as his ubiquitous guitar showed up not only in “The Andy Griffith Show” but in Matlock as well. Griffith recorded numerous albums and ultimately went on to record two gospel albums in the 90’s, winning a Grammy in the process.
Music was woven into the fabric of Mayberry as Andy played on the porch at the end of many an episode. Music was featured in the story line over and over from Andy’s barbershop quartet, to Rafe Hollister’s golden vocal chords, to the Darling’s family mountain band, to the All Soul’s Church choir. Music was definitely in integral part of Mayberry. As that famous Mayberry philosopher Briscoe Darling once said, “Got time to breathe, got time for music!”
It is not surprising to learn that Mayberry has left its mark on the Christian music industry. For the past two years, I have had the opportunity to ask many of today’s Christian artists what they thought about “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Entering a decade of existence, Caedmon’s Call released their
eleventh album, Back Home, on February 4th, 2003. The album is a
reflection and collaboration of a decade of music and maturity with an emphasis on returning to the original roots of their “college band” music. Todd Bragg of Caedmon’s Call says, “Earnest T. Bass would have to be my favorite character. His singing and songwriting skills, rock throwing
talent, love for the rain, and social graces are surely an inspiration to us all.”
Michael Sweet (lead singer of Stryper) says the show is timeless and adds, “I used to watch the show when I was young. It’s was perfect life in a
perfect world – at least that’s the way I viewed it. Simple, not complicated
like the world we live in today. My favorite characters were Barney and
Gomer on the comedy side. Andy was my favorite on the values side.”
J. Jackson – lead singer for ApologetiX (That Christian Parody Band) says, “Yes, I like the Andy Griffith show, because it’s so doggone wholesome, even though the characters (like Barney, Aunt Bee, Goober and Howard) aren’t bland. Plus I know all the words to the theme song.” 🙂
“My favorite episode is the one where some girl has a crush on Andy, so he tries to get the other guys
in town to think that she likes THEM! I remember him telling the one, “She says you have nice eyes!”
And the next time that guy sees this girl, he’s trying to show off his eyes to her without actually
saying so. The same thing happens with two other guys and some characteristic they have. I think
it’s amusing, because we all like to hear that something about is special to somebody else, but when we
find out about that, we often become very self-conscious about that characteristic, as if it’s our only
selling point.”
“And, for the record, on stage we will occasionally break into Barney’s voice and say, ‘There’s certain
things you gotta know about handling a gun!!!’”
Other artists have also chimed in about Mayberry. Chris Rice said he would like to be Opie because he was naive.Ginny Owens said Andy Taylor was her favorite character because he was “the coolest.”Scott Dente mentioned he liked Barney because he was the highlight, “You can’t have the Andy Griffith show without
Barney – ‘Hey Ange!'”

Michael W. Smith said he liked Opie and that he always wanted to be Opie Taylor.
The guys from New Song all really liked Andy, however, Stephen Reischl added that he liked Goober andMichael O’Brien said he also liked Gomer Pyle.

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“I have every episode on tape and I used to have all the license plate numbers memorized,” singer/songwriter Gary Chapman told me going on to say he was once a member of “The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club” (TAGSRWC). “I have breakfast with Goober all the time.” George Lindsey, Ralph Emory, Ray Stephens and other old friends meet for breakfast on Saturdays and the former Sam’s Place host is often invited to join the boys. Gary’s favorite character is Barney, and he gave the Preamble to the Constitution and the Unplugged Microphone as his two favorite episodes. Gary grew up in a small town that “reflected Mayberry” and he said there was even a town constable that was a dead ringer for Barney Fife. “Mayberry represents the best of the American dream. It’s the way it should be, the values, integrity and richness of its character.”

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“Oh yeah! Barney and Andy!” exclaimed John Schlitt from veteran Christian rock group, Petra. Although he claimed Andy could be a little bit dull at times, he said, “I loved those episodes with Barney whenever he had to pull out his bullet and usually shot himself in the foot.” He called the show “very wholesome where the worst word was ‘shucks'” and said, “It is a shame TV went in such a negative direction for so long.” John said he is also a big fan of “Mr. Limpet.”
One of the most popular male artists in Christian music,Wayne Watson is a six-time Dove Award winner and has ben nominated for tow
Grammy awards. He continues to climb the radio charts with 22 #1 Radio
singles, and will release his 16th album in Spring of 2003.
Wayne claims, “Not only am I an Andy Griffith fan, I am also pretty up on Trivia. The
local Christian radio station here knew of my interest and on the 30th
Anniversary of the show held a trivia face off with me and wife of a staff
member. Before the question was finished, I had the answer. On the other
end of the phone, there was silence and a few low groans then someone
whispered, ‘Oh my gosh, he knows the answer before we even finish the
question’. I proceeded to blow the competition away. Thank you. Thanks. No
really, thank you.
Our family has watched TAGS for all thirty years in one form or another. My
kids and I can verbally spar and replay old scenes which usually draws looks
of disbelief from observers. Maybe I’ve had too much free time.
However, TAGS is one of those classic shows that can be funny and inspiring
at the same time without being corny. There are more than a few life lessons
about friendship, relationships in general, raising family, etc found in the
content of this wonderful television program. In my opinion, nothing else
comes close.”
Last but not least, in the November 3, 2002 issue of Alan Jackson is quoted as saying, “I like old Andy. He always reminded me of my daddy, and even sort of looked like him.”
The one dissenting view on TAGS came from producer, performer and manager, Mark Chesshire. “I don’t understand why everyone holds ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ up as this paragon of virtue and integrity. They lied and covered up for someone on every show and one of the main characters was always drunk!” He added, “This is a family show…and none of the main characters were married!!! And those who were…we rarely got to hear about them or ever see them. So much for the All American Family Show.”
Rather than argue with Mark (who is a good friend) or point out the exaggeration in his statement, I have to agree, there was some doctoring of the truth on many episodes as Barney tries to cover up his mistakes and Andy chooses to be governed by his heart rather than the book. The show was also unusual for its time depicting a single (widowed) father trying to raise a son with the help of his Aunt Bee rather than a traditional family. Perhaps it is these struggles and flaws of character that make us love Andy, Opie, Otis and Barney so much. We can see ourselves and our human weaknesses in them while relating to them as they try to help each other and learn from their mistakes. In the end, in spite of their weaknesses, each show makes clear that the faults of these beloved characters are quite human, but their strengths stem from their friendships, their families, and the loving God they worshipped at All Souls Church. There are important lessons to be learned from all of the characters, including Otis, (who ultimately gave up alcohol and became an ice cream man.)
Related Links:
Randy Stonehill, The Blob,& Mayberry
Like Barney
Music & Mayberry
Past Mayberry Articles
Andy Griffith — Old Wood and Wine
Mayberry Poem – “A Tribute to Mayberry”
Two New Mayberry Books
The Way Back to Mayberry
Add your Mayberry event to our calendar
Christian Activities Mayberry Forum

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