#404: The Song “Love’s the Only Command”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #404, on the subject of The Song “Love’s the Only Command”.

This is another early one.  I remember playing it for Dennis Mullins when I was in high school–well, Dennis is another story.

It happens that our mothers were friends, but I don’t think either of us knew that back then.  He was probably half a dozen years older than I, out of high school as I was getting in, and he played in a popular local rock band.  I never heard them back then, but I saw posters for Some Other Animal, with the four of them wearing furs.  They signed with Epic Records, I’d wager around 1971 or 72, changing their name to Rock Garden, and then with the Jesus Movement sweeping through, Dennis became a Christian and didn’t want to do that music anymore.  Well, I could tell you how it spread, but within a couple months Rock Garden was playing some really good multiple-vocal Christian pop-rock at the local coffeehouse and elsewhere.

But I have to roll this back a bit.

I was probably a freshman or sophomore, and sometimes I would walk home from school rather than take the bus or get my mother to drive me.  Probably most of the shorter ways for me to get home took me past his house, and one day as I was passing I heard him plunking on the piano, and was intrigued, so I walked up to the house and positioned myself on the front stoop to listen.  He was downstairs, I think it must have been a split, but he suddenly realized someone was on the front porch, and he was swiftly up the stairs (tall and lanky) and asking me, politely, what I wanted.  I explained that I’d heard him playing and just wanted to listen, which was apparently fine with him, and I didn’t stay much longer.  But I didn’t know who he was then.

So all of that stuff previously mentioned happens, and now I’m a fan of the band, but also writing my own music, and I wrote this song, Love’s the Only Command.  For what it’s worth, I still think that the vocals on it are very like something Rock Garden would have done.  So I went over to his house, must have taken my guitar, and told him that I’d written a song I thought his band could do.  He listened; he liked it.

He did ask whether they could change the words to “open the door”, “because that’s what He said.”  “He said both,” I responded, and he kind of shrugged.

I’d like to say that Rock Garden sang my song at Carnegie Hall, but no, they never sang it.  I’m not even sure why not.  I hope it wasn’t because he thought I was arguing about the lyrics.  But The Last Psalm did it, and it might even have been our signature song.

As to Dennis, Rock Garden did sing at Carnegie Hall, the same night that Danny Taylor and Andre Crouch recorded live albums there.  Then the following week they performed one more local concert, and broke up.  Drummer Peter Hopper went to the Love Inn and worked with people like Phil Keaggy and Ted Sandquist.  Dennis had a solo career including recording a song for Mother Teresa.  Our paths crossed at least once, at some kind of reception I attended where he was playing.

Decades later I gave the members of Collision copies of about thirty-seven songs, and said if there was anything on the CDs they thought we should do, let me know.  Jonathan picked this one.  So Collision learned it, and performed it a few times.  I have to laugh, really, because it will quickly become apparent that all three verses have the same words; I thought it was sufficient variation to keep raising the complexity of the vocals.  But Jonathan asked if we could change the words to the last verse.  Then when it was too late, I remembered Dennis, and thought gee, we could make the last verse “open the door.”  But we never did.

This recording is another of the four vocals over midi instruments mp3s I did when Jessie Oldham asked me to get her a recording of Last Psalm music.  Parts of Ruthann (Mekita)’s high soprano are covered by a midi trumpet.  To this day, a few that remember those days refer to her part on the chorus as “the moose call” and tease me for my vocal arrangement there.

I remember in a Collision rehearsal, one of the early shots at this song, I told drummer Nick that on the last verse the chorus gets quiet right after I sing “scream and shout it”.  When we finished the run-through, he told me I was wrong–I had forgotten that I sing those words twice in that verse, once in the middle and again at the end.  Ah, well.  I can’t always be right.

Love’s the Only Command.

So here are the lyrics.

Haven’t you noticed miracles happen ev’ry day?
Don’t you know Jesus is the only way?
Jesus Himself said, “I am the door.”
And if we follow Him, we’ll know what it’s all for.

Jesus can be your friend.
He’ll be true to the end.
You know God understands.
Love’s the only command.

Haven’t you noticed miracles happen ev’ry day?
Don’t you know Jesus is the only way?
Jesus Himself said, “I am the door.”
And if we follow Him, we’ll know what it’s all for.

Jesus can be your friend.
He’ll be true to the end.
You know God understands.
Love’s the only command.

I’m gonna preach about it,
Teach about it,
Sing about it,
Scream and shout it.

Jesus can be your friend.
He’ll be true to the end.
You know God understands.
Love’s the only command.

Haven’t you noticed miracles happen ev’ry day?
    (I’m gonna preach about it)
    (I’m gonna teach about it)
Don’t you know Jesus is the only way?
    (I’m gonna sing about it)
    (I’m gonna scream and shout it)
Jesus Himself said, “I am the door.”
    (I’m gonna preach about it)
    (I’m gonna teach about it)
And if we follow Him, we’ll know what it’s all for.
    (I’m gonna sing about it)
    (I’m gonna scream and shout it)

Jesus can be your friend.
He’ll be true to the end.
You know God understands.
Love’s the only command.

Jesus can be your friend.
He’ll be true to the end.
You know God understands.
Love’s the only command.

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:  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”

Next song:  Given You My Name

One thought on “#404: The Song “Love’s the Only Command””

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.