Category Archives: Music

#358: DeGarmo and Key, Not a Country Band

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #358, on the subject of DeGarmo and Key, Not a Country Band.

It was said that when Amy Grant realized she wouldn’t listen to her own records if they weren’t hers, she called Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key to collaborate with them on something with more of a rock sound.

It was probably a good choice.  They were clearly a rock band at the beginning.  Somewhere on their live album No Turning Back–Live one of them says, “We tried doing country music, but nobody could figure out what country it was from so we gave it up.”

The first of their albums I encountered was their third, 1979’s Straight On, and four songs stand out from it.  The opener, Jericho, was definitely rock in the Christian music world.  My favorite was undoubtedly Long Distance Runner, but I also remember the short instrumental Enchiridion which preceded it(although this reminds me of Chris Christian’s challenge, what makes an instrumental Christian?), and I Never Knew You.

Amy got in on the next album, This Ain’t Hollywood, collaborating with them on Nobody Loves Me Like You, the cut that got all the attention, upbeat for Amy but already the band was starting to mellow toward a more commercial sound and look, as demonstrated by Special Kind of Love from 1983’s Mission of Mercy.  You can’t blame bands for trying to sound like whatever sells, but it is disappointing to lose something unique (and unique is never the popular sound).

They continued releasing albums through 1994, with two best-of albums following in 2003 and 2006.  I know nothing about that.

*****

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.
  40. #345:  Be Ye Glad.

#356: The Song “God Said It Is Good”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #356, on the subject of The Song “God Said It Is Good”.

This seventeenth song on the list was written to celebrate the marriage of my friends Debbie nee O’Neil and Rich Van Norstrand.  I wrote it after we had all left Luther College but before my own wedding, and played it for them once, in the spring of 1976 when somehow all four of us (that is, with my wife Janet) were back on campus at Luther.

I must have heard someone say that the first thing God said was not good was that the man should live alone.  Up to that point, he had created the heavens and the earth, the light and darkness, the rain, the sea and the land, the fish, the birds, the beasts of the earth, and the human, and at each step saw that it was good.  Now there is something that is not good, and He fixes it.

I’m pretty sure that it was an ancient rabbinical observation that God made one into two so He could make two into one.  For God, marriage isn’t about sticking two random pieces together, but about putting back together what He originally sundered.

It ranked nineteen on my list for the song itself, but this midi-instrument recording placed number ten despite the fact that I stumble over a few words; Tristan did not list it.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)  It was my wife’s favorite of my wedding/marriage songs, at least before I wrote the one for her which is further down the list (mostly because it’s a poor recording), and one of two songs I sang at my sister’s wedding (the other, which I think is an excellent song, is sadly lost).

I have performed it solo, but the only recording of such a performance I could find was not good; it was written for piano, and although I can play it on guitar I prefer not to do so.

God Said It Is Good.

So here are the words:

God said, It is Good, when He made the light.
God said, It is Good, when He made the day and night.
God said, It is Good, when the light shone from His face.
God said, It is Good, when the light reached every place.

But God said, It is not good for the man to live alone,
And so He made a woman for the man to call his own.
He made one into two so He could make two into one.
In Jesus I charge you to love one another, be thankful for what He has done.

God said, It is Good, when He made the earth.
God said, It is Good, when the heavens had their birth.
God said, It is Good, when His work had just begun.
God said, It is Good, when He looked at what He’d done.

But God said, It is not good for the man to live alone,
And so He made a woman for the man to call his own.
He made one into two so He could make two into one.
In Jesus I charge you to love one another, be thankful for what He has done.

He saw that it was good that He had made the stars of night,
And good that He had made the sun and moon to give us light.
He saw that it was good to have the earth bring forth its life.
He saw that it was good that He had made them man and wife.

God said, It is Good, when He made the man.
God said, It is Good, when he finished what He planned.
God said, It is Good, when the man stood on his feet.
God said, It is Good, when creation was complete.

But God said, It is not good for the man to live alone,
And so He made a woman for the man to call his own.
He made one into two so He could make two into one.
In Jesus I charge you to love one another, be thankful for what He has done.

He saw that it was good that He had made the stars of night,
And good that He had made the sun and moon to give us light.
He saw that it was good to have the earth bring forth its life.
He saw that it was good that He had made them man and wife.

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”

#353: The Song “I Use to Think”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #353, on the subject of The Song “I Use to Think”.

I wrote this sixteenth song on the list almost certainly in late 1974 or early 1975.  I was reading a lot of C. S. Lewis at the time, and I recall at least playing it if not writing it on a piano in one of the halls at Farleigh Dickenson University’s Teaneck-Hackensack campus where I was working as a security guard.  In my mind there was a perhaps loose collection of aspects of life that were impossible without God, and this song managed to string four of them together.

I have perhaps always been a bit ambivalent about this song.  Although it was written while The Last Psalm was still together, it was not performed then.  Arguably I did not include it for TerraNova because I had not conceived vocals for it, but I also did not suggest it for Cardiac Output.  On the other hand, when I started recording the midi-based songs, this was the opener of the second disk; and Collision used it to open many concerts and as the opener of the album Of Worlds.  It is a Christian song in the sense that it undermines worldly values and concepts; it doesn’t put forward the answers.  It is very much about how modern knowledge without God leaves us without answers.

I ranked it twenty-sixth for the song itself, but this recording, from the Collision Of Worlds album, came in at number twelve, and Tristan likes the song, tying for number nine on his list.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)  I do very much like how the title, which begins as a suggestion that I’ve learned otherwise, comes to the end to mean that–well, that would be a spoiler.

The lyrics were posted previously in connection with Cardiac Output mostly because I was looking for songs with minimal repetition in the words; There is an extensive discussion about it in connection with Collision.

I Use to Think.

So here are the words:

I use to think I loved you, and I told you once before
That as each day continued I would love you more and more.
I knew what I was feeling, and I thought that it was real,
But now I find that anything I feel is nothing more than how I feel.
They tell us in biology
It’s just a change in chemistry;
It’s just as plain as it can be
That love is not reality.
It’s not for you, it’s not for me–
A child is for posterity,
And if there are too many, we
Must bend to the society
It can’t be from up above;
Is that all there is to love?

I use to think that living meant that life would be worthwhile,
And so I searched for something, and I traveled many’a mile.
I thought life was important, and I sought to find out why,
But now I guess that anything I thought before was just another lie.
They tell us in astronomy
That’s one impossibility.
We’re just a tiny speck, you see,
Compared to one small galaxy.
What happens here could never be
Of such universality
To have a lasting memory
Beyond the world of you and me.
The sweat and the blood and strife–
Is that all there is to life?

I use to think that heaven was unquestionably true,
That God was up in heaven, and was watching what we do.
I thought if I did good then I would surely reach His throne.
But now I find that good is nothing more than just a preference of my own.
They tell us in philosophy
That that is all mythology.
It obviously couldn’t be–
A God is an absurdity,
And if there is no God, you see,
There can be no morality.
It’s only the majority
Preserving the society
It strikes me as rather odd:
Is that all there is to God?

I use to think that reason was the basis of my mind,
That reason was not doubted, and would not be for all time.
And so I did my thinking, and I thought through all my plans,
But reason is worth nothing now, because it’s clear that it is based on chance.
They tell us in psychology
That thinking works mechanic’ly:
A thought from our heredity
Is formed environmentally;
They tell us in anatomy
That thinking works electric’ly:
A jolt of electricity,
A slightly altered chemistry.
A brain can be built and bought.
Is that all there is to thought?

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”

Next song:  God Said It Is Good

#352: Why No One Cares About Your Songs

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #352, on the subject of Why No One Cares About Your Songs.

On a Christian musicians group someone posted the question, as near as I can reproduce it,

I have written 1200 songs; why does no one care?

I replied, mostly copied below, and apparently he benefited from my answer and deleted the question from his original post, but I kept thinking that what I wrote might have value to others.

*****

Wow. Tough topic.

I’ve been writing songs since 1968. Some of them are great, not just in my opinion; most are not great. It’s very difficult for the creator to evaluate the worth of his own material. Conan Doyle hated Sherlock Holmes; Isaac Newton believed he would be remembered for his works in theology. Identifying which are the good songs is a major challenge.

I remember a guy I knew who called me one Monday to report that on Friday night he had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and over the weekend God had given him five hundred songs. I had to come hear them. I was not overwhelmed–he knew three chords and had to stop to change between them, sang almost monotone, and all his lyrics were direct passages from scripture without any work to make them poetic. I didn’t want to discourage the guy, but I’d heard better commercial jingles. (Not to denigrate commercial jingles.) Not to say your songs are all bad songs, but if you’ve written as many as you say I suspect a lot of them are below par.

But let’s suppose I’m wrong, and you’ve written 1200 great songs.

First, it’s been demonstrated that songs are not popular because they’re good; they’re popular because they’re popular. You don’t get a following because you write good songs, primarily (although if you write bad songs, that gets in the way). Your songs are loved because you have a following, because people already like you. Many of my songs are as good as some of the best out there, and most of the ones I still sing are better than a lot of the popular ones, but I have maybe a handful of people who really like them and most people don’t even bother to listen when I post free recordings of them. I’m not popular; that means my songs aren’t popular.

Second, have you any idea how many people have written how many original songs? They get posted here every day. One of my hobby careers is that I created a role playing game, one which got good reviews (O.K., it got bad reviews, too). I’m a known RPG theorist and writer; many of my articles get translated into French and republished abroad. For several years I participated in web sites that helped aspiring game designers. One thing we were constantly telling people was don’t worry about sharing your ideas: they aren’t worth stealing. I had to learn that about my music, that nobody was going to steal my songs because even great songs are not usually worth stealing. Everyone and his brother, or nearly so, has written a song and thinks that people should care. Songs are no longer significantly marketable. I can teach people to write them. Your great songs might be better than songs by famous recording artists played on the radio, but the songs people listen to are not the greatest songs, they’re only the most popular, and usually because the artists are popular.

Third, a friend once asked me why I, as the most promising musician he ever knew, didn’t make it. Well, there are a lot of reasons for that. Oddly, though, I once went to a Renaissance Faire and heard a band that was making a living doing genre music, had several CDs, and their lead male vocalist and rhythm guitar player was a guy we used to joke about in high school as the worst drummer in town. I asked him after the show whether of all the musicians who played in his garage anyone would have picked him to be the successful professional, and he laughed. You get there partly by chance, partly by hard work.

I was a CCM DJ in the early 80s, and I’ve been writing a series on the history of CCM/Rock from the time. You should read the stories of Chris Christian and Amy Grant. They both just about fell into their careers.

Finally, though, no one cares because that’s not where God is leading you, and He needs you not to care so much about all those great songs you’re writing and just use them where you are, how you can.

I hope this helps.

I want to give you those links, but while I was looking for them I found this one: web log post #163: So You Want to Be a Christian Musician.

This on Chris Christian.

And this on Amy Grant.

*****

I want to add one more link, web log post #107:  Miscellaneous Music Ministries, not for itself but for the links it contains to the series on music ministries.

#346: The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #346, on the subject of The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them”.

Reaching song number fourteen in our publication efforts, I should mention that this was actually tied for thirteenth, but I had to choose.  Last month’s Joined Together had been number 17 for the song itself and number 9 for the quality of the recording, and this one was number 8 on quality of recording but 18 on the ranking of the song, so I went with the ranking of the song.  Tristan did not list either song on his choices.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)

I don’t recall when I wrote this, but I know it was early.  The five vocals on the recording were the parts as sung by The Last Psalm with Peggy Lisbona on the melody, backgrounds (SATB) by Ruth Mekita, Ann Hughes, yours truly, and Jeff Zurheide; we lost Ruth, Ann, and Jeff in June of 1974 and never had five vocals again, so the song dropped from the repertoire.  (It would be remiss of me if having named all those people I did not mention that we had John Mastick on drums and Andy Nilssen on bass, with Dave Oldham and Ralph Bruno doing sound and lighting.  Jeff and I played guitars; Peggy and I covered piano, but not on this song.)

Astute Bible students will recognize that the lyrics closely (but not exactly) follow Romans 10, where Paul is saying that the church needs to send people to preach the gospel so that the world can hear it and turn to Christ.  The first two verses echo the importance of delivering the message, while the bridge and final verse actually do so.  Remember, The Last Psalm ministered during that time when every Christian musician was expected to do evangelism, and so the song is evangelistic in part, although it is primarily an exhortation to evangelize.

I have one minor memory about this song.  When I was teaching it, Peggy said she could not possibly leap up to sing “tell me” in the middle of the chorus (it’s a jump from a low G to an octave higher), so I sang those two words, while she sang the rest of the melody.  I thought it silly at the time–she sang the higher G twice on the bridge–but my singers were volunteers and I wasn’t going to push them to do what they didn’t think they could do.

The song is here.

If We Don’t Tell Them.

So here are the words:

Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Tell me how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?

There are many many people, they’re in every place and time,
People of all continents and people of all kinds,
People of all races looking for some peace of mind.
Just call on the Lord and be saved.

Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Tell me how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?

Many people ev’rywhere are dying to be free.
Many people say that that’s the way they’re meant to be.
Many people look, but not so many seem to see:
Just call on the Lord and be saved.

Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Tell me how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?

Jesus came and gave His life,
He died for you and me.
He said that if He set you free,
Indeed you would be free!

Someday you will recognize He came and died for you.
Someday you may realize the things He said were true.
Then I hope that you will know exactly what to do:
Just call on the Lord and be saved.

Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Tell me how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?

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”

Next song:  I Can’t Resist Your Love

#349: The Song “I Can’t Resist Your Love”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #349, on the subject of The Song “I Can’t Resist Your Love”.

This fifteenth song on our list was started by my wife.  It has to have been 1979 or 1980, as I remember her sitting in the dining room of the apartment we had in Pennsville working on it.  She was stuck for a chord and asked for help, and suddenly I was contributing words and music.  She didn’t like all my contributions, and we still argue about who wrote what, but ultimately we were pleased with the outcome.  I listed this the number twenty song on my list, and although there are a few places where I didn’t get the vocals exactly right (and embarrassingly it is the tenor–my part–that has the mistakes) I put it number 11 on performance/recording quality, probably largely for the vocals.  Tristan ranked it tied for fifteen.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)

It was always envisioned with at least four vocals, which is what is used here, a guitar providing a fifth at the end.  We used this as our closing song in TerraNova, where we had five vocals, but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sing the soprano (which was an added part anyway, as Debbie Kregger was not an original member).  It is a rock anthem, with the intention that the ending chorus would keep repeating more than it does in the recording, but it’s a long song with two instrumental verses (one of them done with contrapuntal vocals) and two bridges, and for the recording I thought it was long enough with four choruses.  (It is a short chorus.)

My wife gets full credit for the concept, that the world is very alluring, but ultimately the love of Christ outpulls anything offered elsewhere.  She also gets credit for the truly unique rhyme and meter scheme on on the verses.

The song is here.  It is again a wav file, and so a large download, but I think worth it.

I Can’t Resist Your Love.

So here are the words:

I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

So many times I see
The world is rushing by me,
And everything I see
Looks so good.
I only want a part–
I feel it tug on my heart,
And that is when I start
To wish I could,

But I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

People are getting high,
And life is passing me by,
And so I wonder why
You call my name.
I’d like to be a star
And drive a fancy sports car,
But I know Who You are
And why you came,

And I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

And I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

I don’t need you for your money:
I will serve you without pay.
‘Though you may think it sounds funny,
I just wanna hear you say,

“Welcome home thou good and faithful servant;
Over few things you have proven true.
I will make you ruler over many.
Enter in the joy I have for you.”

Now when I look around
I see the joy that I’ve found
While all the world is bound
In chains of sin.
They need to turn to You–
If they could see what You’d do,
Then they would know You’re true,
And let you in.

How I wish that they could hear me
Telling them You are the way.
If I let Your Spirit steer me,
One day I will hear You say,

“Welcome home thou good and faithful servant;
Over few things you have proven true.
I will make you ruler over many.
Enter in the joy I have for you.”

I thought that I was free,
But You reached out and drew me,
And though I tried to flee, where could I go?
I couldn’t resist Your love,
The kind of stuff I dream of.
I want you far above
All things I know.

And I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

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”

Next Song:  I Use to Think

#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.

#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”

Next song:  If We Don’t Tell Them

#340: The Song “A Man Like Paul”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #340, on the subject of The Song “A Man Like Paul”.

I can pinpoint fairly precisely when this song was written.  I was at Gordon College, and Pope Paul VI had just died.  The process of electing a new Pope had begun; it would result in the appointment of Pope John Paul (who died a month later, the process repeating with the appointment of Pope John Paul II).  Recognizing the significance of the appointment of so public a leader in Christendom, I was contemplating that, and my mind made some connections.

The Apostle Paul by Abraham Bloemaert

Peter, of course, is said to have been the first Bishop of Rome, and so the first Pope.  (That’s contested–James appears to have been head of the church when it was led from Jerusalem, and the Eastern Church has never accepted that any individual was the head of the church, holding to a first-among-equals view.)  I began my song with a verse about that first Pope, thinking that the church needed someone like him in particular ways, willing to stand for the message.

I also remembered that the Pope prior to Paul VI was John XXIII, known for his efforts to extend an olive branch to Christians outside the Roman Catholic Church, and I connected that to the writings of John the Apostle, who wrote so much about love in his short epistles.  My second verse unfolded carefully in a way that could be identified with either of these Johns.  So, too, my third verse, as radio news commented that Paul VI had focused on spreading the message and expanding the church, and the connection to the missionary work of Paul the Apostle was at that point obvious.  I thus pieced together a song about five men, under three names.

That the song was about selecting a Pope was never obvious on its face, but the first person for whom I played it, one of my fellow students, knew that was what I had in mind.  His response was that we had to find a way to deliver a copy of the song to the Vatican.  I could not imagine any way to do that, and did not expect that the Vatican would pay any attention to anything I sent.  A month later when the selection of John Paul was announced he came to me and said it appeared that the church got the message, but of course it had nothing to do with me.

Without the backstory, the song is a challenge to all of us to be imitators of the great men of the faith.

Written on the piano, it was probably the most complex chord progression I had created to that point, each verse beginning with the same half line and then diverging into its own unique music, diminished chords coming into the third verse, and the opening line becoming the closer.  Playing it on the guitar was a challenge.  I think I surprised myself when I was able to bring the third verse back to the opening chords for the last couplet.

This is another recording done in an office with midi files for instruments, and it is a .wav file so it is rather large.  It was number ten on my list for the quality of the song itself, number nineteen for the quality of the recording and performance due in significant part to the fact that it uses the midis and lacks the flavor of a live piano.  It made Tristan’s list, tied for fifteenth, and so falls twelfth here.  The recording can be found here.

A Man Like Paul.

So here are the words:

A man like Peter, a man like John, a man like Paul.

A great confession gave this man the keys,
The man who opened up the door.
The Jews and gentiles both came to believe–
I ask, could God have used him more?
And when it counted, he took up his cross,
And like his Lord before him, there he died.
We need more men like that, who count this world as loss,
And take the pain God calls them to with pride.

A man like Peter–such a man was John,
A man who gave himself completely to the King.
A church divided, and soon it would be gone.
Love for each other was the most important thing.
A man of faith, a man of prayer,
Waiting just to hear what God would ask.
We need more men like that, for only those who dare
To live for God are equal to the task.

A man like Peter, a man like John,
Someone must be found to spread the word,
In all the land, to every man,
Making sure that ev’ryone has heard.
God needs a man of faith and prayer,
Someone who will answer to His call
And for his Master would go anywhere–
Only such a man could reach them all.
Such a man was Paul.

A man like Peter, a man like John, a man like Paul–
Only such a man could reach them all.
A man like Peter, a man like John, a man like Paul.

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” | #340:  The Song “Selfish Love”

Next song:  Joined Together