Song Story: Where Could I Go But To the Lord

Where Could I Go, But to the Lord was written in 1940 by James Buchanan {also known as J.B.} Coats.

James Buchanan Coats

Mr. Coats was born on April 6, 1901 in Summerland, Mississippi. By the time he was fourteen, he was teaching music classes and leading evangelistic singings.

The inspiration for the song came years earlier when Mr. Coats was sitting beside a dying neighbor, an old African-American man, Joe Keyes.

Mr. Coats asked Mr. Keyes if he knew where he would spend eternity.

The old gentleman said, “Where could I go but to the Lord?”

Fast forward to years later, and Mr. Coats, while teaching at a singing school, Mr. Coats wrote the song.

The question reminds us that whether we are riddled with problems, facing a beautiful day, or making our final journey home, there is no where else to turn except to the Lord.

J. B. Coats wrote numerous songs including A Wonderful Place, I’m Winging My Way Back Home, Where there is Love and Tomorrow May Mean Goodbye.

He died on December 15, 1961.


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  • Alexis Coats

    J.B Coats was my Great Grandfather on my Dad’s side. If you have anymore information about him I’d love to hear. My father and his father are both deceased.

    • Wonderful to hear from you and hearing of the family connection. I don’t have any additional information on him. There is a very brief biography of him on hymnary dot org. When time allows you may want to consider tracing his family history for more information. I wish you the best in your pursuit.

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