This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #445, on the subject of The Song “How Many Times”.
I can explain why this song was not on the original “short list” for the Extreme Tour demo: I wrote it in high school, and I feel like it shows the marks of an immature believer. Yet I might judge it too harshly for that.
After all, my youngest son Adam (who co-wrote Even You, featured a few months back) likes it a lot, was learning to play the piano part for it. I could discount that, because I think he likes angsty songs–but he says that “people” like it. It also has a long history that commends it.
It is probably the song that put my music on the map. The Last Psalm had been playing very small venues when we were invited to perform at the Luther College Coffeehouse Night, an invitational gathering of the heads of coffeehouses throughout the northeastern New Jersey area early in 1974. I had Peggy (Lisbona, also contralto vocals) sit at the piano, while I joined Ruthann (Mekita, soprano), Ann (Hughs, alto), and Jeff (Zurheide, baritone, also lead guitar) in a stairwell adjacent to the dais. The four of us sang the first verse and chorus of the hymn Softly and Tenderly in four parts a capella, and as we finished Peggy started playing the introduction to this song on the piano. I scampered up the stairs, picked up my guitar, stepped up to the mic, and on the downbeat of the first verse I hit the CM7 chord and began singing.
At that moment, several people who thought all my talk about how to run a musical ensemble was hot air suddenly updated their thinking. Andy (Andrew Hagan Nilssen) followed me and began playing bass mid-verse, followed by John (Mastick) on the drums, and Jeff came to the stage to play lead frills behind the vocals as the second verse began. Ruthann and Ann joined us in time to sing the four part vocal ending, and the audience welcomed us to the stage.
We played a carefully-planned twenty-minute slot, and yielded the stage to others, but were invited back on stage at the end of the program to play another maybe half hour. After that, several local coffeehouses invited us to play their venues. This song had a lot to do with that, I think.
After The Last Psalm dissolved, I made a monophonic multi-track recording in which I improvised lead guitar frills; I liked them enough that I expanded them to two parts, and recorded that on a regretably lost tape I made in a studio at Gordon College. I preserved the parts, though, for this vocals-over-midi-instruments recording, made as part of the nostalgic collection of recordings of Last Psalm songs for Jes Oldham entitled When I Was Young. There is a midi “hiccough” in the second line, but it’s barely noticeable. Although the lyrics don’t really strike me as great, I do like the inside rhymes.
I don’t perform it because I always feel like it needs the four-part ending vocals; I have a live recording I did at the Silver Lake Community Church one week which to my mind underscores that. Yet it was an important song in my history, and worth preserving in its own right.
How Many Times.
So here are the lyrics.
How many times can I look down,
Only to find I’m still on the ground?
How many days? I can’t even count.
How many ways have I tried to get out?
How much more is all I can take?
Before I know I will break?
And if I break, what else will there be?
Is it too late to care about me?
Is there someone, somebody, somewhere,
Or someone’s son who really cares?
Is there a man–there has to be–who would lay down his life,
Do what he can for you and me to save us from strife?
Yes, there is someone: Jesus loves you.
Yes, there is someone: Jesus loves you.
Yes, there is someone: Jesus loves you,
Jesus loves you, Jesus loves you.
I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way. I will continue with additional songs in the future.
Previous web log song posts:
#301: The Song “Holocaust” | #307: The Song “Time Bomb” | #311: The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314: The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317: The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320: The Song “Free” | #322: The Song “Voices” | #326: The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328: The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334: The Song “Convinced” | #337: The Song “Selfish Love” | #340: The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341: The Song “Joined Together” | #346: The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353: The Song “I Use to Think” | #356: The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362: The Song “My Life to You” | #366: The Song “Sometimes” | #372: The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378: The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382: The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387: The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393: The Song “Why” | #399: The Song “Look Around You” | #404: The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408: The Song “Given You My Name” | #412: The Song “When I Think” | #414: The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428: The Song “To the Victor” | #433: The Song “From Job” | #436: The Song “Trust Him Again” | #438: The Song “Even You” | #441: The Song “Fork in the Road” | #442: The Song “Call to Worship” |
Next song: When I Was Lonely