Spirituality Meets Song: An Analysis of Coltrane’s A Love Supreme

John Coltrane’s 1965 album A Love Supreme is amongst his best-selling and highest acclaimed. The album exceeded the saxophonist’s usual album sales sixfold & stood the test of time in a cultural sense with fans such as Barack Obama admiring the work fifty years after its release. It is a highly personal album as it is a sort of rebirth after Coltrane’s troubled past with drug and alcohol abuse. The four sections of the album are as follows: Acknowledgment serves to acknowledge the presence of a Creator. Resolution serves to actively take steps to build a relationship with the Creator. Once an relationship is established, pursuance serves to actively pursue new ways to strengthen the relationship, and Psalm—similarly to the Bible—solidifies the connection between music and spirituality. Let’s take a deeper analysis on the purpose behind “Psalm.”

The final section merges beautifully with the previous section of “Pursuance” and is characterized just a bass line, piano & an emotionally affected saxophone. On a personal note, the tune reminded me of slower-paced hymns I heard growing up in church such as “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah” and “He Lives.” Additionally, the last note of the section is very similar to the “Amen” heard at the benediction of a church service. Unbeknownst to me while listening but brought to my attention by Lewis Porter with the National Library of Congress, every notes Coltrane plays signifies a syllable of a poem written by Coltrane.

Wanna Read More?

Porter, L. (1998). “A Love Supreme” – John Coltrane. Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/static/programs/national-recording-preservation-board/documents/Coltrane.pdf

Westervelt, E. (2012, March 07). The story of ‘A Love Supreme’. Retrieved March 31, 2021, from https://www.npr.org/2000/10/23/148148986/a-love-supreme

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