Category Archives: Music

#320: The Song “Free”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #320, on the subject of The Song “Free”.

For those at The Objective Session for The Extreme Tour this year, this is the song of which I sang the first verse and chorus at the composition seminar that gleaned such a positive response.  The entire song is here.

I ranked this number 6 as far as best songs go, and number 3 on quality of recording and performance, but Tristan did not include it in his list at all, which dropped it down to number 6 on our combined list.  Still, it is one of our top choices, and particularly when I am going solo, since if you hadn’t noticed three of the previous four songs require multiple vocals to work at all.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with previous web log song posts, linked below.)

Free.

This was also far and away the most difficult song Collision recorded or performed, and in every way.

When we performed it on stage, I always arranged the program such that after this song I would have a moment to catch my breath, as I was always winded after playing bass and singing.  The transition to the bridge isn’t so bad when singing and playing guitar, because they are in sync; but the bass part requires playing three eighth notes into the bridge while the vocal is a quarter note, and hitting both of them was always a challenge.  In the studio–this recording is from the Collision EP Of Worlds–we didn’t get past the second verse on the first take, and it was probably my fault, but to solve it I decided that we would lay the instrumental tracks first and I would go back to add the vocals, the only song we recorded that way.  So unaccustomed was I to singing without playing an instrument that at one point, again probably going into the bridge, I swung my hand wide with my eyes closed and almost knocked over my bass guitar.  So it was tough for me.

I know it was tough for Kyle getting the fast changes on the guitar, but he managed it.  I wrote some very complicated piano parts for Jonathan, and he didn’t play them exactly as writ but he got the feel of it beautifully.  I’m sure, though, that he never took his eyes off the keys, because it was a very demanding part.

As to Nick on drums, well, he always made everything look easy, and he managed the changes between three-four and four-four brilliantly, but a couple years later when Nick left and we were auditioning another drummer, the new guy listened to this recording and said, “Of course, you double-tracked those drums.”  I’m not a drummer, but I confess being very surprised and told him no, Nick played that on one take.

Because the song was recorded by Collision there is already a page on the Web which discuss it, here, including the story of its origin.

Free!
Jesus came and Jesus made me Free!
Jesus came and gave His life to me.

I live a life that pleases my Father up above
I try to live a life of love.
I listen for His Spirit; He speaks and I obey.
I know there is no other way!

Free!
Jesus came and Jesus made me Free!
Jesus came and gave his life to me.

He filled me with His Spirit to fill me with His Word,
The greatest thing I ever heard.
And I can see a promise in each divine command,
For this is what He says I am!

Free!
Jesus came and Jesus made me Free!
Jesus came and gave his life to Me!

What’s written in God’s Word–
I know it may sound quite absurd, but
God is going to do that in my life!
I know it may sound odd,
But it’s already done by God
He did it when He gave me Jesus Christ.

Now I don’t have to worry; it won’t depend on me.
My Lord has won the victory
And so I take each promise, believing what He said,
For He has raised me from the dead!

Free!
Jesus came and Jesus made me Free!
Jesus came and gave his life to Me!
Jesus came and Jesus made me Free!
Jesus came and gave his life to Me!

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”

#317: The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #317, on the subject of The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe”.

That’s When I’ll Believe.

As far as favorite songs go, this was only number twelve of my top choices, and tied for thirteenth of Tristan’s; but it ranked number two in quality of recording and performance.  (See previous web log posts, linked below, for more about the ranking system.)  I have some quibbles–I missed a vocal frill I never miss, Baxter didn’t get all the guitar frills and chord positions the way I would have done them, and I forgot that there was brass at the climax of the last verse so I didn’t record it–but overall it’s an excellent recording, and the one that appears on the EP Collision Of Worlds.  You’ll find it here.

In the studio, I had Kyle Baxter record the acoustic guitar for the first verse alone in the booth.  He hesitated on the last chord and apologized to me for it saying he could do it again, but I said it would work fine that way.  We then had everyone in the booth to record the body of the song, with my singing and Nick Rhoades’ gentle cymbals over that first verse before everyone came in (Jonathan Maness on keyboards, me on bass) for the rest.  In concert we had two keyboards, and Jonathan was supposed to put the brass in, but there was only one in the studio so we went back and I overdubbed the brass on the keyboard.  I hadn’t practiced it, and was doing it from my recollection of a midi recording I’d made a decade earlier, but it worked.

Because the song was recorded by Collision and previously done by Cardiac Output, there are already pages on the Web which discuss it, most notably here, telling the story of its origin.

Some people try to tell me my way’s no good,
That I’ve got to take another path.
If there’s a God in heaven I really should
Turn around and so escape His wrath.
If there’s a God in heaven, then what is death?
The Grim Reaper leaves us all bereaved!
So when I hear of someone calling back his breath,
That’s when I’ll believe.
That’s when I’ll believe.

They say there was a man who conquered the grave–
Yes, they say He rose up from the dead.
High on a cross He suffered and died to save
With a crown of thorns upon His head.
I’ll have to see the nail prints in Jesus’ hand,
And the side the soldier’s sword has cleaved,
And when I’m satisfied and sure I understand,
That’s when I’ll believe,
That’s when I’ll believe.

They say He’ll come again in power–
Then He will take His people home.
Although nobody knows the hour,
Still they are sure that He will come.
When I see Him in the clouds–
When His people start to leave–
When the trumpet sounds aloud–
That’s when I’ll believe.

They say that Christ will judge the good and the bad:
Everyone will get what he deserved.
Those who have followed Him will no more be sad.
For the rest, the fire’s been reserved.
So when I’m in the fire that never dies,
When I have no hope to be relieved,
I will remember doubting, and I’ll wonder why.
That’s when I’ll believe,
That’s when I’ll believe,
That’s when I’ll believe,
That’s when I’ll believe.

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”

#315: Don Francisco Alive

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #315, on the subject of Don Francisco Alive.

We mentioned previously (in connection with Dallas Holm) that sometimes an artist’s work becomes overshadowed by a single song.  This happened to Don Francisco twice, despite having quite a significant body of valuable material apart from that.

His debut album, Brother of the Son, featured a wonderful country song with a powerful message, No Condemnation, which I played quite a bit despite my general dislike for country music.  In fact, when it was overshadowed by later work I still attempted to get it on the air, because I thought the message important.  However, few remembered it for long after more songs were released.

His second album, Forgiven, had a wonderful song which got a lot of initial airplay, a live resurrection day story from Peter’s perspective entitled He’s Alive, which really was better than anything he’d done already.  It climbed our charts quickly.

Then for no apparent reason, listeners turned away from it, wanting to hear a different song, the last song on the album, Adam, Where Are You?.  It was stylistically similar, focusing on the Garden of Eden and the Fall.

He released several other excellent songs, usually similar in style to these, including the title song of his next album Got to Tell Someone, and of the following album The Traveler.

All of those songs still move me, some to tears.

Don continued to record and sing for years; he released a live concert album in 2016.  I never heard anything else from him, though, as I was no longer connected to the CCM scene.

*****

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.

#314: The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #314, on the subject of The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods”.

My wife and I collaborated with Bob Weston on two songs, both of them extraordinary.  The first, Holocaust, was already posted (links below); this was the second.  I listed it as my number five favorite song (music and lyrics) and the number six best recording (performance and technical); Tristan included it in his “tied for fifth” list.  It is about how churches confuse the simple gospel message, under the title:

Walkin’ In the Woods.

Although Collision: started working on a three-voice version of this when Sara joined, it never reached the point of performance ready.  There is a discussion of how it came to be written there; the line about “read the big book” was discussed, and we passed up “good book” in favor of the image of the large bibles on lecturns in many churches.  This recording was done with the Digital Orchestra program, all the instruments midis, the vocals mine.  The complex interaction of the vocals was always part of the song from the day it was written; TerraNova performed it, and the lyrics are:

Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.
Runnin’ into people, say they’ll show me the way,
Take me to the edge of the pit and walk away.

Don’t walk away from me,
Don’t leave me standin’ here all alone!

This one tells me how to look and what I ought to say,
That one tells me what to eat and when to pray,
This one tells me only what I should not ever do.
Who is going to tell me what is true?  What is true!?
Searchin’ for the truth, and all I find is more lies.
Shepherd, are you try’n’ to pull the wool over my eyes?

Don’t tell me how I gotta dress for your show!
Don’t tell me how I gotta look if I go!
Just tell me what I gotta know!

Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
  (I’m try’n’ to find my way back home)
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
  (I feel I’m really all alone)
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.
Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
  (I’m try’n’ to find my way back home)
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
  (I feel I’m really all alone)
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.

Who can tell the shepherds from the wolves?
  (You gotta have a program.)
Who can tell the shepherds from the sheep?
  (You gotta take a close look.)
Who can tell the shepherds what to do?
  (But are they list’ning?)
Who can tell the shepherds are asleep?
  (You gotta read the big book.)

Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering
(Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,)
sheep of my pasture, declares the Lord.
(Try’n’ to find my way back home;)
Therefore, thus says the Lord God of Israel
(Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,)
concerning the shepherds who are tending my people:  You have
(Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.)
scattered my flock, and driven them away,
(Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,)
and have not attended to them.  Therefore, I am about
(Try’n’ to find my way back home;)
to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,
(Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,)
declares the Lord.
(Try’n’ to find my way,) get it right, get it right.

Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
  (I’m try’n’ to find my way back home)
    {Don’t walk away from me}
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
    {Don’t leave me standin’ here all alone,}
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
  (I feel I’m really all alone)
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.
  {Don’t walk away from me}
Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
  (I’m try’n’ to find my way back home)
    {Don’t leave me standin’ here all alone,}
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
  {Don’t walk away from me}
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
  (I feel I’m really all alone)
    {Don’t leave me standin’ here all alone,}
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.
  {Don’t walk away from me}

I’m lost and need to find the way.
I’m lost and need to find the way.

Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night.

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”

#312: Produced by Christian and Bannister

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #312, on the subject of Produced by Christian and Bannister.

This duo has been mentioned already in our series.  Chris Christian and Brown Bannister both had their own albums, and they never sang together–but they did everything else together, and had a major impact in the early days of the Contemporary Christian Music world.  That’s a more recent image, with Brown on the left and Chris on the right; despite the amount of work they did together, there seem to be no online photos from their early days (I remember seeing one on someone’s album cover, but with the amount of work they did I’m not about to try to search all the album covers).

Chris is one of those miracle breakthrough artists.  He wrote a song when in high school, and went to Nashville where he sold it to Elvis Presley.  I don’t recall what song it was–having started my boyhood interest in rock music with The Beatles I never had much of a positive attitude toward Elvis, who was already “old” music to me.  That put Chris on the inside in the music industry, so he knew people.

He heard a band called Dogwood, and thought he could produce a good album with them, so he called Pat Boone at Word in Texas and said he thought he could do it for five thousand dollars.  Pat asked if they were any good and if he thought he could do this, and he said yes, so Pat sent him the five thousand dollars and he produced the album.  It was successful; they had a folk rock sound comparable to Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and that was popular at the time.

At some point he persuaded his friend Brown to move to Nashville, and was finding work for him.  Then he said he had an idea, and Brown needed to go learn to be a recording engineer.

Meanwhile, back in Waco B. J. Thomas contacted Word Records about doing a Christian album, and someone out there said he knew just the guy to produce it.  Brown had been learning to be a recording engineer for all of three weeks when Chris called him and said come, we’re producing B. J. Thomas.  Home Where I Belong was a huge success in the Christian music world, and gave Chris the contract through which he produced The Imperials and discovered Amy Grant and soon was producing pretty much any Christian artist who was located in the east but released through Texas.

That is what they did, and they did it well.

Over the course of a couple decades Chris released a score of albums of his own; Brown released one, Talk to One Another, which somehow I either completely missed or completely forgot even though it was released in 1981.  His work was almost always behind the scenes.  Even when I met them at one of Chris’ concerts, Chris was the talker.  He joked on stage that people would ask if “Chris Christian” was his real name, and he would say no, his name was “Wally Witness” but he thought that that was too much so he took a stage name.  However, his real name was Lon Christian Smith; Chris Christian was a professional nom de plume.

Chris always objected to the concept of “Christian instrumental music”.  What made a song Christian or not, he asserted, was the words.  In his early concerts he would illustrate this by sitting at the piano and playing Alley Cat, and every time the music paused he would insert a different “Christian” word–“Jesus”, “God”, “Holy Spirit” and the like.  The joke of course was that if you put Christian words in the breaks, Alley Cat becomes a Christian song, but without the words it’s just music.

His 1976 self-titled debut album included his version of his song Mountaintop, later popularized by Amy Grant when he produced her debut.  Christian music still being sparse, his 1977 LP Chance had several tracks that were notable at the time, including Satisfaction Guaranteed, From the Start (usually played without the dramatic intro) which B. J. Thomas also recorded, the title song Second Chance, and his country-jugband influenced version of The Imperials hit he had produced, Sail On.

His 1979 With Your Love had a couple of songs already popularized by The Imperials including Praise the Lord and (not found online) Heed the Call.

1981 saw two albums, Just Sit Back and a reportedly rockier second self-titled LP, neither of which I recall; nor do I remember his 1983 Love Them While We Can or 1984 Let the Music Start.  By this time Chris, along with Brown, was much more important for the work of others, such as White Heart.  He continued making albums for the rest of the century, none of which I ever heard, but he also continued producing the work of others in the field, and doing an excellent job of it.

*****

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.

#311: The Song “Passing Through the Portal”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #311, on the subject of The Song “Passing Through the Portal”.

Two months back I started publishing my songs through web log posts; links to the first two such posts which include an explanation of the process are at the bottom of the page.  Some of what I explain here will only make sense if you’ve already seen those posts.

This song was ranked only number nine on my list of “best songs”, and Tristan had it on his list tied for fifth.  However, it was always ranked as the best performance/recording of all those available–and it’s difficult to argue against that.  Nick Rhoades’ drumming is phenomenal, Eric Kyle Baxter captured the lead guitar work brilliantly, Jonathan Manness managed the keyboards and hit the backup vocals spot on, which means the only person about whom I might complain is that lead vocalist/bass guitarist, which is me, so I’m not going to complain.  The average made it number three, and so the third of the three songs sent to The Objective Session people.  It is entitled

Passing Through the Portal.

The song was included in the Collision:  Of Worlds album, and so I wrote about it before, including the humorous way it came to be written.  It was the fan favorite at concerts despite the fact that some older listeners thought it a bit nostalgic in style.  It also was the inspiration for Faith in Play #2:  Portals at the Christian Gamers Guild.  This recording is the one from the album, engineered by Tony Mascara of Millville, New Jersey, in his basement studio, and the lyrics are:

Passing through the portal–

Leavin’ this wicked old world behind,
Changin’ my heart, renewing my mind.
Oh, and did I fail to mention
I’m travelin’ to a new dimension?
Passing through the portal to the new world.

Crossin’ the bridge, the bridge is a cross;
All that was gained I’ve counted as loss.
No, it’s not my imagination–
I’m movin’ into the new creation.
Passing through the portal to the new world.

I’ve come to say goodbye–
You needn’t ask me why.
I’ve turned my eye to the new world,
To the new world.

Passing through the portal–
I become immortal–
Passing through the portal to the new world

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”

#309: Racially Discriminatory Ticketing

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #309, on the subject of Racially Discriminatory Ticketing.

A music festival in Detroit aimed at a black audience openly advertised that tickets for white people (“non-persons-of-color”) would cost twice what the same tickets would cost for “persons of color”.  This clearly racially discriminatory policy had a justification, which we will address, but the justification was just as discriminatory.

Praise goes to Jillian Graham, who goes by the stage name Tiny Jag, a rapper who withdrew from the concert when she learned of this discriminatory policy, and informed her fans concerning the reason for her withdrawal.  Prejudice is just as ugly when reversed, and this was a case of reverse discrimination.

Afrofuture Youth, Detroit-based sponsors of Afrofuture Fest, explained their policy:

OUR TICKET STRUCTURE WAS BUILT TO INSURE (sic) THAT THE MOST MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES (PEOPLE OF COLOR) ARE PROVIDED WITH AN EQUITABLE CHANCE AT ENJOYING EVENTS IN THEIR OWN COMMUNITY(BLACK DETROIT).

AFFORDING JOY AND PLEASURE IS UNFORTUNATELY STILL A PRIVILEGE IN OUR SOCIETY FOR POC AND WE BELIEVE EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO RECEIVING SUCH.

WE’VE SEEN TOO MANY TIMES ORGASMIC EVENTS HAPPENING IN DETROIT AND OTHER POC POPULATED CITIES AND WHAT CONSISTENTLY HAPPENS IS PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF THE COMMUNITY BENEFITING MOST FROM AFFORDABLE TICKET PRICES BECAUSE OF THEIR PROXIMITY TO WEALTH.

THIS CYCLE DISPROPORTIONATELY DISPLACES BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLE FROM ENJOYING ENTERTAINMENT IN THEIR OWN COMMUNITIES.

The prejudice is obvious here:  Afrofest attaches wealth absolutely to color, that all white people are wealthy and all non-white people are impoverished.  That’s not only not how it works, that’s a set of stereotypes damaging to everyone.

I can assure you that Thomas Sowell, Justice Thomas, Barrack Obama, and Beyoncé Knowles are all “persons of color” and all have considerably more money than I have.  I suspect that at least some of them have more money than most of my readers, black, white, or other.  Were I better versed in people I could probably list hundreds of “persons of color” who are among the wealthy, from entertainment, sports, business, politics, medicine, and law.  But I suspect the reverse is similarly true.  AfroFuture wants to serve the poor of Detroit, but mistakenly assumes that there are no poor white people in the city.  Certainly the deep metropolitan areas of Detroit are predominantly black–but demographic statistics shows a not-negligible caucasion contingent.  Do they live in the wealthy Detroit neighborhoods?  I think there are no more of those.

AfroFest’s goals of ensuring access to entertainment for the impoverished in Detroit are admirable; their methodology is deplorable.

They could have achieved much the same goal by selling discounted tickets not to people of color, but to people with proof of residency:  create a set of tickets for Detroit residents, possibly including immediate suburbs similarly blighted, and require that anyone over a certain age presenting such a ticket at the gate also present proof of address.  That way people from the impoverished neighborhoods get the discount without reference to whether they happen to be black or hispanic or Asian or poor whites.  That would be a considerably less prejudicial way of discriminating, that is, of catering to poor people and making wealthier people pay more, instead of selling cheap tickets to wealthy blacks and making poor whites pay extra for theirs.

Of course, if AfroFest is correct that there are no wealthy blacks or poor whites in the Greater Detroit metropolitan area, they get the same result–and they don’t have to use racial profiling to do so.

#307: The Song “Time Bomb”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #307, on the subject of The Song “Time Bomb”.

Last month I introduced a new web log miniseries as a vehicle through which to publish my songs, and began the process with my favorite of my songs, web log post #301:  The Song “Holocaust”.  I explained much of the reasoning and the process there, and won’t repeat much of it here, but will introduce the second song on the list.

This second song on the list was the third song on my list of best songs and fourth on the list of quality of recordings; Tristan listed it as one of his (four) first choices.  It was thus the second song submitted to The Objective.  It is entitled

Time Bomb.

I went from a public high school overrun by the Jesus Movement of the early 70s to two Christian colleges for five years and then after a brief stint working security into five years ministry on a contemporary Christian radio station.  Then a few months after I left that I landed in the first secular job I’d had since a summer job in the back reaches of a warehouse doing inventory and supply.  I was surrounded by people near my own age who had an entirely worldly and secular view of life.  It was a bit of culture shock for me.

I remember one girl in particular because something she said very much inspired this song.  She said that eventually she was going to settle down and straighten up, but she had time for that, and she was going to enjoy the partying life for a while first.  I wondered whether she would have the time, and began to think about people who think they have time.

We performed the song with TerraNova, much as it is here but without the keyboard–harmonics on the rhythm guitar with the counterparts by the bass and lead, five vocals, I think the rhythm played the introductory breaker.  We were working on a three-vocal version for 7dB and later for Collision, but never had them performance ready.  I’ve tried to come up with a one- or two-vocal version, but it loses too much.  The choruses were originally written for four vocals; the “descant” was added when I we added a soprano vocalist to TerraNova, and the alto was delayed to be out of synch when I was making this recording.

My good friend Reverend David D. Oldham once said that this was his go-to song for demonstrating how to integrate musical style with lyrical content, that the choruses, verses, and bridge each have their own flavor that captures the essence of the messages within each.

Much of this, and some other stuff, was included in the material about Collision‘s repertoire, here.

This recording was made using something from Turtle Beach called Orchestra something-or-other; it only supported four vocals, so I covered the fifth with a midi trumpet.  Although additional vocal capability came with the upgrade to Record Producer Plus, I never returned to upgrade the earlier songs, having too many songs on my list of intended recordings.  The instruments are all programmed midis through a Soundblaster sound card, and I sang four of the five voices, but had to bring the soprano down an octave on the bridge.  Here are the words:

She thinks she’s got the world by the tail,
Whole lot o’ money and she couldn’t fail.
Too much time to be changing life now–
Does things her Daddy never would allow.
She goes to a party ev’ry Friday night–
Friends keep tellin’ her her life’s alright.
She’ll change someday, she knows it’s true–
There’s plenty of time for what she wants to do.

And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time bomb,
And the time that we once had is nearly gone,
As the world winds down to its final hour
When the Son of Man shall come with mighty power.

His money is his only friend;
Got more money than he’ll ever spend,
Big investments in stocks and gold,
Building up security for when he’s old.
He can’t take it with him, and he knows it’s true,
But now it helps him do the things he wants to do.
Lives his life like it’ll never end,
But when it does, on what will he depend?

And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time bomb,
And the time that we once had is nearly gone,
As the world winds down to its final hour
When the Son of Man shall come with mighty power.

Give him a number, call him double-oh-four
In God’s secret service in the holy war.
He’s a Christian in his private room
But wouldn’t tell a soul to save it from its doom.
He’s bound for the pearly gates, but you can’t tell–
He acts the same as all the people bound for hell.
Friends and family will have to wait–
He hopes that someone tells them all before too late.

And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time bomb,
    (And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time)
      {Ticking like a ticking time}
And the time that we once had is nearly gone,
(Bomb, and the time that we once had is nearly)
{Ticking time bomb–time we had is nearly}
As the world winds down to its final hour
(Gone, as the world winds down to its final)
{Gone, winding, winding down until He}
When the Son of Man shall come with mighty power.
(Hour, He will come with mighty power.)
{Fin’ly comes with mighty power.}

Lift your head, He’s calling the dead to come forth!
Lift your eyes and see them arise!
Lift your heart, let praises now start to come forth!
Worship the risen son, Christ!

And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time bomb,
    (And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time)
      {Ticking like a ticking time}
And the time that we once had is nearly gone,
(Bomb, and the time that we once had is nearly)
{Ticking time bomb–time we had is nearly.}
As the world winds down to its final hour
(Gone, as the world winds down to its final)
{Gone, winding, winding down until He}
When the Son of Man shall come with mighty power.
(Hour, He will come with mighty power.)
{Fin’ly comes with mighty power.}

And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time bomb,
    (And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time)
      {Ticking like a ticking time}
And the time that we once had is nearly gone,
(Bomb, and the time that we once had is nearly)
{Ticking time bomb–time we had is nearly.}
As the world winds down to its final hour
(Gone, as the world winds down to its final)
{Gone, winding, winding down until He}
When the Son of Man shall come–
(Hour, He will come–)
{Fin’ly come–.}

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

#304: Accidental Amy Grant

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #304, on the subject of Accidental Amy Grant.

It comes across as the musician’s dream story.  A sixteen-year-old girl bought some studio time to make a recording for her mother, and a major record producer heard the tracks and contracted her to a major record label deal.  That, in a nutshell, is the story of Amy Grant.

The story is more complicated than that.  Due to his recent success as a producer of Christian albums, Chris Christian had been given a contract to produce five albums a year, and needed artists quickly.  Although he and Brown Bannister did hear Amy’s work in the studio, she also was a member of the church he attended, so he knew who she was.  Although she was indeed sixteen when she was discovered, she was eighteen before her first album was released.  Still, it was a remarkable beginning for a remarkable career–and it really did begin with a recording she made for her mother’s birthday.

The dream got better–but it wasn’t all good.

Her first album, released in 1977, was already on the shelves at the radio station when I got there, and every song on it was popular, but particularly memorable were Mountain Top, What A Difference You’ve Made, and the one that still got airplay after she had released several other albums, also covered by The Imperials, Old Man’s Rubble–as demonstrated by this live version done some years later.

Her second album, in 1979, was known for two things, the very popular title song Father’s Eyes, and the controversy about the third button.  That’s right, Christians were all up in arms because the now twenty-something college student and successful Christian singer had her blouse open to the third button in the cover photo on the back of the album jacket.  It was an excellent album (and really, I saw the photo before I knew there was a controversy, and it never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with it, being fresh out of college myself), with other great songs including Never Give You Up.

That title song was written by Gary Chapman, whom she married in 1982–the first of her two failed marriages, the second to country singer Vince Gill in 2000.  [Errata:  I had been told that Amy’s second marriage had also failed; that apparently was false gossip, as she is still married to Vince Gill.]  It was not all roses.  She has one child, daughter Sarah Chapman.

In 1980 she released Never Alone, a considerably less memorable entry but sporting titles like Look What Has Happened To Me and Don’t Give Up On Me.

It was also during these college years that Amy looked at the work she’d done and realized she had produced three albums that she wouldn’t own if they weren’t by someone she knew personally.  She talked to people, and sent word to Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key that she wanted to collaborate with them on something.  They reportedly responded, “That Amy Grant?”  However, the outcome was the recording of Nobody Loves Me Like You on the Degarmo & Key LP This Ain’t Hollywood.

In 1981 she released two live albums, In Concert and In Concert Volume Two.  The songs were almost all remakes of familiar Amy Grant songs, but the second disc opened with I’m Gonna Fly, a bit more upbeat than most of her familiar hits.

Age to Age was released in 1982, and she continued to progress with the country-rock I Have Decided and the upbeat Sing Your Praise to the Lord (with the baroque intro), but perhaps the most significant song on the record was El Shaddai, about half of which is in Hebrew, which got heavy airplay and introduced songwriter and artist Michael Card, whose own recording of the song was released on his debut album at about the same time.

It is not at all surprising that Christian artists often release Christmas albums, and that Christian radio stations play them, but that most of them have very little to commend them–just retreads of familiar Christmas songs, often with secular holiday songs mixed in.  In 1983 Amy released her first such album–and it was a wonderful work of art, to this day my personal favorite Christmas album.  She sent us a “picture disk”–a vinyl record with the cover image embedded in the vinyl, in a jacket with a clear plastic front so that the picture showed through.  That wasn’t a lot of use at the station, so I still have it here at home.

The opener, Tennessee Christmas, is one of those songs which poses an enigma to Christian radio stations.  It is all about spending Christmas at home instead of somewhere else, but doesn’t mention Jesus or even God at all–just the love of family at home.  Yet it was co-written by Amy and then-husband Gary Chapman, and no one can say it doesn’t reflect Christian values.  Still, it ultimately is a holiday song, later to be covered by the band Alabama, and a pleasant start to the disc.

From there it moves into Hark the Herald Angels Sing, followed by the instrumental Preiset Dem Konig! (Praise the King!), which virtually segues into the rocky sequence of Emmanuel/Little Town/Christmas Hymn, the middle of those a completely new and upbeat version of O Little Town of Bethlehem for which my only complaint is that I would have liked for her to have included the entire third verse.

She follows this with the upbeat Love Has Come.  I am then disappointed by her inclusion of two secular holiday songs–Sleigh Ride and The Christmas Song.  Don’t misunderstand.  They are credibly done, but there is nothing particularly different or interesting about them, and they are on the list of songs that to me disrupt the spirit of the holiday.  She makes up for it, though, with another excellent creative original, Heirlooms, and then finishes the album with a medley of A Mighty Fortress and Angels We Have Heard On High.  The timing error on Fortress irks me, because my mind is trying to sing along and it omits the notes for a few words, but Angels is a fit and perhaps glorious ending for the work.

I’m pretty sure that her next album, Straight Ahead, passed through my fingers just before I left the station; I vaguely remember Thy Word, but nothing else about it is familiar other than the cover and the title.

Not long after that, Amy hit controversy again as it was announced she would be crossing over into the secular market.  I don’t know how successful that was, but a lot of her fans were upset about it.  On the other hand, the single that was released to the secular stations reportedly was about love and fidelity, and those were certainly Christian values.

Amy continued to release albums on Christian labels for decades after that.  She became the first Christian artist to win a Platinum record, and went on to win several more, making her the best selling Christian music artist to date.  The little girl who recorded a tape for her mother’s birthday has in some senses been the most successful Christian musician.

I heard her talking on the radio not too long ago.  She lives with her mother now, who is suffering from the mental afflictions of old age.  One day as Amy was headed toward the door with guitar case in hand, her mother said, “Where are you going?”

“I have a concert, Mom.”

“Oh, do you sing?”

“Yes, Mom, I sing.”

“Well, have fun.”

How sad is 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.

#302: Might Be Truth and the Cleverly-Named Re’Generation

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #302, on the subject of Might Be Truth and the Cleverly-named Re’Generation.

When I was in college I heard a rumor about a band–I’m not sure you could characterize it quite that way, though.  I heard that there were these guys, one of whom traveled around the country listening to high school musicians and collecting a group of the best, the other then taking them, managing them as a band, taking them on tour, and finally producing an album.  Then after a year on the road they disbanded, presumably continued their educations, and the new crop of high school graduates took the stage.

I think that band was called Truth.

I have a couple reasons for thinking this.  In about 1974 I was given a pirated copy of several albums and a few extra songs which included an album by a band called Truth.  (Others were the debut albums from Love Song and Malcolm and Alwyn, and a live cut from Larry Norman.  I’m pretty sure that part of the point Jeff had in giving me the tape was to demonstrate that a brass section did not make a band better–I liked brass in my work.)  I remember very little of that album, but it was probably We Want to Love, We Want to Shine, because I specifically remember their versions of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother and One Solitary Life (neither of which I can find online as videos).  Then I remember encountering a band called Truth at the radio station, a sort of MOR (that stands for Middle Of the Road, and is a technical term in the music industry) Contemporary vocal group with a bit of brass, but with entirely different vocalists from the album I knew.

I also heard a story, that every year Truth was a new band, until one year when they came to the end of the tour and made the record they looked at each other and said, why would we want to do something else?  So the band Truth stabilized into that group.  (I have no idea what happened to those poor high school graduates who had anticipated being part of a touring Christian band, but I got the story so poly-handed that it could be completely wrong.)

What I don’t remember, really, is any single song or album that they recorded during my time at the station other than that logo in the picture of that album cover.  I can tell you, though, that they did well-produced covers of popular Christian hits, toning down some of the rockier ones and spicing up some of the calmer ones to get a sound that could be played by most radio stations.  Unfortunately, it was apparently an easily forgotten sound.

I’m pairing them in this article with a band called Re’Generation, because what I remember about them is that they were very similar in sound to Truth.  The only other thing I remember about them is that Found Free teased about their sound in their song Individually Wrapped (“Should we change our style and sing just like Regen–?/Oh, one of us hot-dogs would surely wreck the blend.”).  Seriously, even looking over their online discography, I see no familiar album covers and no familiar titles beyond that they are mostly covers of songs known from elsewhere.  They produced twenty-some albums over a decade, and were as I recall good at what they did, but nothing from them is remembered as remarkable.

*****

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.