Alan Jackson released “Monday Morning Church” in 2004. The original recording of the song features backup vocals by female country superstar Patty Loveless. At the CMA Awards that year, Jackson and Loveless took the stage to perform the heart-wrenching song.
“Monday Morning Church” is an example of great songwriting. Through the first verse and chorus, it sounds like it could be a song about divorce. The first verse paints a picture of loss and anger with God. “You left your Bible on the dresser/ So I put it in the drawer/ ‘Cause I can’t seem to talk to God. without yelling anymore/ And when I sit at your piano/ I can almost hear those hymns/ The keys are just collecting dust/ But I can’t close the lid.”
It’s only at the end of the second verse that the full weight of the sorrow in this song hits home. One line changes the meaning of the song. With just a handful of words, Alan Jackson reveals the true pain behind the lyrics. “’Cause the faithful man that you loved/ Is nowhere to be found./ Since they took all that he believed/ And laid it in the ground”
At that moment, an ambiguously sad song becomes a mournful ballad. The sparse backing vocals and fiddle really put an edge on the emotion. At the same time, Alan Jackson’s voice carries the weight of the lyrics stoically but the pain still shines through. You can imagine that a man with a happy marriage can’t help but think deeply about the words as he sings them.
Alan Jackson and Patty Loveless Take the Stage
Watching Alan Jackson and Patty Loveless perform the song live highlights the emotion of the song. While Jackson remains stoic, you can see the pain on Loveless’ face as they move into the second verse. She casts a gaze at Jackson that looks almost concerned. Like they are both in the moment, disconnected from reality, and lost in the song.
Watching them perform “Monday Morning Church” together is a great reminder of why both Alan Jackson and Patty Loveless are such big names in country music. Not only are they professional musicians but they are also masterful performers. Through their words as well as their body language they take the audience, and now all of us, on an emotional journey. It doesn’t end in a happy place, but it’s a beautiful journey nonetheless.