#345: Be Ye Glad

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #345, on the subject of Be Ye Glad.

I want to put this band down as one of the great ensembles of the eighties, despite the fact that they kept morphing into something else.

Their self-titled debut album in 1978 was promising.  Ed Nalle was the original lead vocalist and as far as I know remained so giving his characteristic vocal quality to the band.  They picked up lead guitarist Wayne Farley from Found Free, and give that band credit for helping them launch.  I don’t have specific memories of that disc, but that I expected to see more from them–and I did.

When Beyond a Star came out in 1980, it was obvious that these were musicians of the highest caliber.  I remember in an interview they told me that the opening a capella cut The Reason had forty-some vocal tracks; this portended much about their future, as it displayed their brilliant vocal arranging.  But from there it moved into Take a Stand, and the fact that the entire band was music college graduates came through as they gave us a sound very like the band Chicago Transit Authority, a sound which continued through the album as it moved to the title song Beyond a Star.

The album was solidly aimed at the exhortation of Christians, a defining quality of much of the music of the decade.  The title song, for example, is a call to stop looking at celebrity Christians and look to Jesus.  This is followed by the mellower and perhaps slightly eerie Away, and the A-side closes with a frenetic Wayne Farley composition, Sing a New Song, not found in its original form on the web.

The B-side opens with what is probably the rockiest song on the disk, again strongly reminiscent of Chicago, Iron Sharpens Iron.  It then mellows to the introspective Lying, and picks up a bit into the moderate but again rocky Lonely Love.  In that interview, Ed told me that the people in this song were people they knew, one of them the mother of a member in the band, with events and situations that really happened.  There is then another frenetic Wayne Farley composition, It Is Good.  (Wayne left the band following this album, and was not at the interview.)  The disk wraps with a wonderful quiet vocal-driven Pierce My Ear the original version of which does not appear to be on the web, although this later a capella version does.

The next album, Captured In Time, shifted to a more commercial sound, that is, sounding more like all the other contemporary Christian bands of the time.  It is difficult to fault them for it; a lot of bands did this, because it sold records.  Unfortunately as a result the only song I remember from it (which was not the song their distributors the Benson group was pushing) is the wonderful quiet closer Be Ye Glad (there is also a later a capella version of this).

Perhaps annoyingly, shortly after this album reached us we also received, from the same distributors, Noel Paul Stookey’s Band and Bodyworks, which also had a recording of this on it.  He’s further down the list, though, so we’ll hold off on those comments.

Eventually Glad released an entirely a capella album, and it went gold.  More than half their work thereafter was a capella, and quite good, as this version of The Second Chapter of Acts classic Easter Song demonstrates.  They were also famous for something originally released to radio stations and appearing in several different versions over time, but the version I knew included on their fourth release, No Less Than All, under the title That Hymn Thing or Variations on a Hymn.  It presents something of a music history by taking an old hymn melody with its original secular words, singing the early Christian version, and then rewriting it in several styles running through time up to how they would do the song in their own 1980s rock style.  Musically it’s a lot of fun.

According to their discography they continued releasing albums up through the year 2000, but became known for their a capella recordings rather than their contemporary/rock sound.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258:  British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.
  15. #260:  Lamb and Jews for Jesus.
  16. #262: First Lady Honeytree of Jesus Music.
  17. #264:  How About Danny Taylor.
  18. #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire.
  19. #268:  Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts.
  20. #272:  To the Bride Live.
  21. #276:  Best Guitarist Phil Keaggy.
  22. #281:  Keith Green Launching.
  23. #283:  Keith Green Crashing.
  24. #286:  Blind Seer Ken Medema.
  25. #288:  Prophets Daniel Amos.
  26. #290:  James the Other Ward.
  27. #292:  Rising Resurrection Band.
  28. #294:  Servant’s Waters.
  29. #296:  Found Free Lost.
  30. #299:  Praise for Dallas Holm.
  31. #302:  Might Be Truth and the Cleverly-named Re’Generation.
  32. #304:  Accidental Amy Grant.
  33. #312:  Produced by Christian and Bannister.
  34. #315:  Don Francisco Alive.
  35. #324:  CCM Ladies of the Eighties.
  36. #329:  CCM Guys at the Beginning.
  37. #332:  The Wish of Scott Wesley Brown.
  38. #335:  Bob Bennett’s First Matters.
  39. #342:  Fireworks Times Five.

#344: Is It O.K. Not to Make a Statement?

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #344, on the subject of Is It O.K. Not to Make a Statement?.

Recent events have raised this question in my mind.

I don’t want to discuss the political issue; I want to discuss the discussion.  There are many people on one side and very few on the other, and the people in the majority–or at least the loudest group–appears to be of the opinion that no one is permitted to be quiet.  Everyone is required to agree with them or face consequences.

That’s how we get polarization, and the major issue with polarization is that everyone stops listening to the other side and compromise and progress become impossible.

And there are innocent victims along the way.

The Origins Game Fair, one of the longest-running major game conventions in the United States (old enough that the original Dungeons & Dragons game was debuted at it, and that was a minor incident in its ongoing history), faced with the problems of the COVID-19 virus, cancelled its event, the annual June game convention in Columbus, Ohio.  Efforts were progressing toward holding a massive online convention.

That has now been cancelled due to the Black Lives Matter protests.

The official reason seems to be something like (and I’m paraphrasing hearsay) it would be inappropriate to do something as frivolous as celebrate games during this time in which people are being horribly oppressed based on race.

The unofficial reason seems to be something like (and now I’m paraphrasing gossip) that people supporting the Black Lives Matter movement were pressuring this non-political corporation to make a statement in support of the movement, and when the non-political company chose to remain non-political the supporters of the movement began a boycott.

Well, the official reason is, if that’s actually it and you’ll forgive the expression, bull droppings.  Following its logic, and recognizing that someone-or-other has been oppressed for centuries, it would never be appropriate to celebrate anything good.  Cancel Thanksgiving; it is inappropriate to celebrate the abundance of the harvest as long as there is still oppression in the world.  But oppression of blacks and black poverty is much improved since half a century ago–and yes, I was there.

Besides, it has long bothered me that black poverty is made such an issue when there are so many impoverished whites living alongside them.  I looked up some statistics online (got 2018 numbers), and there are one and three fourths white people below the poverty line for every black–15.7 million whites, 8.9 million blacks.  That turns out to be a larger percentage of the black population, and you will get that statistic thrown at you quite a bit, because as Mark Twain once said, “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damn lies, and Statistics.”  Yes we need to do more to help impoverished blacks; fundamentally, though, we need to do more to help impoverished people.  We need to understand that lives matter, and color doesn’t.

But in my mind the issue is not the issue.  Sure, I support protesters speaking out for better treatment for blacks.  I further think that those who for some reason want to protest against this (I can’t think of one right now) should organize intelligent counter-protests and not, as is allegedly happening, attempt to sabotage the peaceful protests of their opposition.  What I find objectionable is this outside-the-protest pressure on people who would prefer to remain neutral, insisting that they take sides in the debate and declare themselves, and so offend one side or the other, or be deemed an enemy of the movement and a target for reprisal.

This, though, seems to be the new strategy of public debate.  Not so long ago when it was still possible to question global warming there were honest scientists threatened with losing funding and positions if they didn’t toe the line and join the global warming brigade.  That was not the only time it has been done.  To recall the words of Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes:

Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition….[but] the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas–that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.

So hold your opinion.  Hold it strongly and express it loudly and clearly.

But accept that there are people who don’t hold your opinion, or don’t hold it as strongly, or don’t wish to be identified with one side of an issue, and have some human decency and respect and let them hold their opinion or keep it to themselves, as they prefer.  Demanding that they take sides publicly on a publicly controversial issue is more than just rude, it’s a violation of our Constitutionally protected rights.

#343: Worlds Explode

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #343, on the subject of Worlds Explode.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first five novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, and Garden of Versers, in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I have posted the sixth, Versers Versus Versers,  I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

There is also a section of the site, Multiverser Novel Support Pages, in which I have begun to place materials related to the novels beginning with character papers for the major characters, giving them at different stages as they move through the books.

This is the seventh mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 67 through 77.  Previous entries in this series include:

History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.

Chapter 67, Kondor 165

The ghillie suit idea seemed important to the flavor of the upcoming confrontation, and it at least had to be floated.  I also figured I could put some of their plans on the table before the event so that I didn’t have to say, oh, yes, Lauren had advised them to do this, or they had agreed to do that.

This had been chapter 57 prior to the expansion with the Takano chapters.


Chapter 68, Slade 165

I reached what was supposed to be the climax of this book much too soon, despite having dragged my feet quite a bit getting here.  Still, I was here, and I was going to have to figure out what to do from here.

This had been chapter 58 until the Takano chapters shifted it.


Chapter 69, Beam 54

I had suddenly had the notion that it might be possible for one of the versers to recognize Beam from earth.  I discussed it with Kyler, and he said it should be Slade, and I agreed.  I also decided on the lines Beam delivers about not being friends and sticking to his plan.

This was chapter 59 before the Takano expansion.


Chapter 70, Hastings 183

I kept trying to figure out the best perspectives for this battle, particularly as I wanted to give the impression everyone was involved but I didn’t really have enough for everyone to do.  I decided to go with Lauren, and focus on her two-front battle, fighting both the alien and the elemental, while giving fragments of the rest of the story through her eyes.

This had been chapter 60, moved by the inclusion of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 71, Brown 193

I was trying to decide to whose battle view should I move, and as I looked at the outline I realized that it was an ideal time for Derek to take over the story for a bit.

I also had some ideas about what Derek should do here.  Unfortunately, they’re slow, dull, long-scale preparation ideas that should lead into the beginning of the next book, but hopefully I can make them interesting.

This had been chapter 61 originally, shifted when the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 72, Slade 166

I had left the battle in the middle, and was returning to it, trying to cover Slade’s fight with Dawn.  Everything was going to end very quickly here, and I was going to be faced with finding new worlds for several characters, but for the moment I just needed to get through this.

The inclusion of the Takano chapters shifted this from its original number of 62.


Chapter 73, Takano 11

The notion of lucid dreaming struck me while I was musing about how to make this transitional chapter work, so I began with that in view.  I knew by this point that Tomiko was going to land in the same world as Lauren, and be there first.

The person who used to fly when he realized he was dreaming was me.  I haven’t done it in years, but there was a time when I did it fairly regularly, recognizing that I was dreaming and derailing the dream so I could lift myself into the air and fly over the countryside looking at the landscape below.

I was starting to worry about where to put this chapter, because I didn’t want it too far from the next one but I needed to get Tomiko into her next world before Lauren arrived, and Lauren was coming.  I decided once more to chop the main battle with a diversion, at a moment when both Lauren and Bob were caught in the act of dying.


Chapter 74, Kondor 166

I had worked out the ending of the battle already.  The problem was the timing.  I needed Lauren and Slade to die at exactly the right moment so that Dawn would not be able to prevent Zeke from getting a clean shot, but they would be off the battlefield.

This had originally been chapter 63, shifted by the addition of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 75, Brown 194

It actually took several days to write this short chapter–not that I had started writing it, but that I couldn’t figure out what perspective to take, how to tell the story here.  I also was delayed by a day when I was under the weather, and a day when there was too much on my plate, but eventually I managed it.

Before the inclusion of the Takano chapters this was chapter 64.


Chapter 76, Kondor 167

At this point I knew how the book ended for Kondor, but that there would be at least a few chapters to get there.  I also knew what was happening with Derek, but had a question about the end.  I had not yet decided on worlds for Beam or Slade.  For the moment, I had to move Kondor gradually to his endpoint.

This was chapter 65 prior to the inclusion of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 77, Hastings 184

I was writing this chapter because I knew what would happen in this world, and it was going to be short.  I had even tentatively decided that she would be out of this world before the end of the book, despite the fact that there were a very few chapters remaining for everyone else.

Before the Takano chapters were incorporated this was chapter 66.


This has been the seventh behind the writings look at Versers Versus Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind the writings posts for it.

#342: Fireworks Times Five

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #342, on the subject of Fireworks Times Five.

When I first heard Fireworks first album, I was very disappointed.

That, though, was very unfair.  I had already heard their second and third albums, two of the best Christian rock albums of the era, and that the lighter more pop sound of their earlier work was a disappointment is hardly a criticism of it.  It really was a good album.

The only name I ever knew was Marty McCall, who was lead vocalist and keys through most of the band’s career as many others changed around him (although he once mentioned someone named, I think, “Gwen”, as having sung on the live album).  He also released a solo album in the middle of the run of Fireworks albums, which tended to confuse people because the band was so much him but the solo album was a much lighter sound.  I spoke with Marty more than once, so I have a number of anecdotes; I also have a huge number of favorite songs.  Marty had a powerful Irish tenor voice that dominated the music and made the rock sound work.  He told me that before they were a band they were studio musicians providing support for other artists, and then they realized they could do this themselves, wrote some songs, and went forward.

The back cover of that first self-titled album explained that the name Fireworks was talking about the works that pass through the fire.  I don’t remember any titles, but it opens with upbeat New Day, followed the memorable slower Don’t Look Back (this video has a full minute of dead air at the end), the funkier Carrying On (also with dead air at the end), the upbeat rockier Presence of the Lord (and again), the gentler rock ballad Forever With You (seems to be a thing), the bouncy Maybe It’s Love and offbeat Family, the racing Open Your Eyes, the calmer Talks With My Father, another bouncy Takin’ A Rest, and finally New Man (another long space at the end).  Overall it was very good stuff for 1977, and very promising.

Yet I don’t think it prefigured the next release, listed by Christian Contemporary Music Magazine as one of the best of 1979, Shatter the Darkness.  From the powerful opening chords of Change My Heart it was evident that this was now a rock band.  The gentle opening of Beautiful Woman still moved into a rock sound.  After the Rain had the familiar bouncy racing sound of some of the first album’s songs, followed by the quieter rock ballad Calling My Name.  The A side ended with the rocking Rock Band, a musical defense of Christian rock music.

Flipping the album over (yeah, we did that with vinyl), it opened with the quietly pleading Like Children, followed by I Know Power, an upbeat friendly piece.  The dramatic Love You Tonight leads into the rocking title song Shatter the Darkness, and then the album closes with the eerie The World.

It was an incredibly good album that still stands up today; yet the band then topped it the next year with Live Fireworks.  Opening with the driving fast-paced Rescued (“You might as well have been pushed off Niagra Falls in a paper sack”), it kept the tempo as it ran right into Listen and then the playful Target Practice (“taking up the bow and arrow, aiming for the straight and narrow”) before slowing a bit for Someone’s Got a Hold on Me.

The B side opens with another playful one, humorous lyrics that make a point in Toll Free (“He won’t forget your number, and He’s there all the time, You can go to the Lord when you ain’t got a dime.”), followed by the slower but powerful Good Thing, and the moderate and again playful Rusty Burdens.  It slows down again to a gentle call in It All Comes Down to You, and then goes out strong with Ready for the Rest of You.

As good as that live album is, Marty says it embarrasses him.  He couldn’t hear himself in the monitor, and instead of making a fuss to get someone to turn up the monitor he forced his voice, and when he listens he hears the forced sound.  I don’t; I think he’s in great voice on the record.  But I understand how he feels–there are a lot of recordings I’ve made over the decades that embarrass me for reasons that listeners who aren’t me can’t hear.

The following year Marty released a solo album entitled Up, but MCA/Songbird marketed it as by Marty McCall & Fireworks, presumably because members of the band were his studio musicians for it.  One song on it got heavily requested, entitled Adam, so when I had the chance to interview him I asked about it, and he said he did not like the song, but for reasons that really had nothing to do with the song.  He had set aside a week and rented a space for the specific purpose of writing songs, and in the week this was the only song he wrote.  So as good as the song is, it always reminds him of that failed week.

There was one more album from the band, Sightseeing At Night, pushing the envelope a bit further.  I am less familiar with that one, but I remember No Strings and Incognito.

It was a couple years later that I heard the band had dissolved, but I caught up with Marty at a solo concert in our area and chatted with him informally.  He said that he planned to stay home and write music for other people to sing.  Thus I was surprised a decade later to see his face on the album cover of Undivided by First Call.  It was good work, but heavily jazz influenced with an Andrews-Sisters vocal style.  Then another decade passed and he put his degree in medieval and renaissance music to good use by creating the album Images of Faith, using period instruments to create songs with an ancient flavor with modern and contemporary touches–we have gone through several copies of it by now.  But that’s long after the early days, and we could argue about whether it’s actually contemporary.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258:  British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.
  15. #260:  Lamb and Jews for Jesus.
  16. #262: First Lady Honeytree of Jesus Music.
  17. #264:  How About Danny Taylor.
  18. #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire.
  19. #268:  Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts.
  20. #272:  To the Bride Live.
  21. #276:  Best Guitarist Phil Keaggy.
  22. #281:  Keith Green Launching.
  23. #283:  Keith Green Crashing.
  24. #286:  Blind Seer Ken Medema.
  25. #288:  Prophets Daniel Amos.
  26. #290:  James the Other Ward.
  27. #292:  Rising Resurrection Band.
  28. #294:  Servant’s Waters.
  29. #296:  Found Free Lost.
  30. #299:  Praise for Dallas Holm.
  31. #302:  Might Be Truth and the Cleverly-named Re’Generation.
  32. #304:  Accidental Amy Grant.
  33. #312:  Produced by Christian and Bannister.
  34. #315:  Don Francisco Alive.
  35. #324:  CCM Ladies of the Eighties.
  36. #329:  CCM Guys at the Beginning.
  37. #332:  The Wish of Scott Wesley Brown.
  38. #335:  Bob Bennett’s First Matters.

#341: The Song “Joined Together”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #341, on the subject of The Song “Joined Together”.

This is the thirteenth song in our publication efforts, and you might think that given our methodology (explained in the first song post, linked below) all the best ones are gone.  Indeed, I ranked this song number 17 for the quality of the song, and Tristan did not include it on his list at all; it was helped by the fact that as midi-instrument recordings go it was pretty good, coming in number 9 for performance and recording quality.  So maybe the really good ones are done.

On the other hand, I have a set of CDs in the car which have all these songs in this order, and when my wife is driving she will insert this CD and advance it to start with this song.  There are others she likes better, and she doesn’t dislike any of the first twelve, but she finds the string of songs starting with this one to be particularly good.  (I invited her to contribute to the selection process, but she never did until after it was completed.)  Maybe it’s because I had a couple friends perform this at our wedding; maybe it’s because it’s the first Christian marriage song I wrote–but she often complains that I didn’t write it for her (we were engaged at the time) but for our good friends David and Jess Oldham (nee Sue Parliman), who were getting married before we were.  They did not ask me to sing it at their wedding.  I offered to sing it at my sister’s wedding, who wanted me to sing something, but there was a line in it she didn’t like, insisting that death parts us.  I don’t know that we know that, exactly, but she makes a point.

I wrote it at Gordon College, between the fall of 1975 (or possibly late that summer before I left for school) and that Christmas; Dave and Jess got married right around Christmas, and I had a recording ready for them to hear before that.  It was written on the piano, the piano part probably the most complicated I had written to that point (mostly for the use of the left hand).  I later figured out how to play the same chords in similar positions on the guitar, and made a recording of it to play for Dave and Jess prior to their wedding.  I had recently installed a third pickup on my Harmony Rocket guitar so that I could reach the volume control and do cry effects (I had first heard and seen this done by the lead guitarist in Rock Garden (I think his name was Eddie Newkirk, but I never knew him) using a pedal, and later seen Phil Keaggy do it with the volume control on the guitar), and so I improvised the lead guitar part on a one-shot through recording.  (I was using two stereo reel-to-reel decks at the time.)  Decades later when I was doing the midi instruments I realized that I didn’t have a cry guitar, but that the effect approached the sound of a violin, so I used a midi violin instead.

The song is here.

Joined Together.

So here are the words:

Nothing else in Father’s plan
So affects your life:
Will you take him for your man?
Will she be your wife?
There is now a covenant
As love makes one of two.
Love will teach you what you meant
When you said, “I do.”

Love is patient, love is kind.
Never leave your love behind.
Love each other more each day
‘Til you’re old and grey.

Who knows what is yet to be?
We may spend eternity
Joined together, you and I,
Still as one when we die.

Bridegroom, stand beside your bride;
Keep her always by your side.
She has been God’s gift to you;
You are her gift, too.

Submissive to each other,
And bound with cords of love.
We know our loving Father
Ordained this up above.
Let no one ever separate
What God has joined as one,
But work out day by day this great
Thing God’s already done.

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”