Category Archives: Music

#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.

#301: The Song “Holocaust”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #301, on the subject of The Song “Holocaust”.

On my recent trip to Nashville for The Objective Session it was recommended to me that I start my own publishing company, and so publish my own songs.

That would be excellent advice for anyone with a knack for business.  I have more than once proven than I have no such ability, and so I will add that to the list of good advice I hopefully wisely did not take.

However, I am going to publish my songs, so consider me self-published.

The plan is this:  I have mostly poor recordings of perhaps sixty of the hundreds of songs I have composed over the decades.  In anticipation of the aforementioned Objective Session I selected thirty-some of these for consideration in inclusion in a package of materials to be submitted to Nashville professionals, and ultimately gave them copies of the top three.  I am now going to give those songs to you, my readers/fans, beginning with those same three, continuing through the list of thirty-some others, and adding a few that I have since been told ought to have been included.

There are other songs that ought to have been recorded which never were, or which were long ago on tapes no longer in existence.  If there is enough support through the Patreon and PayPal me links (at the top of the page) I’ll obtain new recording software and work on laying tracks for some of them.  (The old software, Record Producer Plus, was actually rather good, but Turtle Beach decided not to support it when I attempted to reinstall it after a computer crash, so I recommend avoiding anything from them because they are unreliable in terms of future support for older products.)

In compiling this list, I went through all my recordings and eliminated a few for specific reasons–a couple of them because they are part of a nearly finished opera from which very few songs have been recorded (I will remedy that if I get the software), a few because the recordings I have of them are more severely flawed than I can reasonably permit myself to release publicly (although with the caveat that some of the recordings I am releasing are seriously flawed).  I used a pocket digital recorder to record, live with an acoustic guitar, a few more songs I thought should be included which I could manage that way.  I then made two copies of the list of songs I had compiled, one listing them in what it my opinion were best to worst songs, music and lyrics, the other listing them in what in my opinion were best to worst recordings, performance and technical.  I averaged these and also asked a bunch of people (family, mostly) to comment on the list, and one, my son Tristan, responded, selecting eighteen of the songs which he thought definitely should be included, divided into the four best, the next four, the next four, the next two, and the final four.  I averaged his opinion in with mine, and that gave me the list I am using.

The first song on his list was the first song on my list of best songs, although it was only fifth on the list of quality of recordings.  It is entitled

Holocaust.

I suppose it makes sense that the song both I and my third son list as the best would already have appeared on the web.  My wife included part of the lyrics on a site (a long time ago, one of the GeoCities web sites), and I put the lyrics up in a section of this site dedicated to the songs of a defunct late 90s band called Cardiac Output (who never actually did the song, although TerraNova did back in the mid 80s), and also gave a rather detailed recollection of the process of composing it in connection with the history of the band Collision.

It may be the most powerful and is probably the most poetic of my songs (which I must again mention is co-written with my wife Janet Young and our friend Robert Leo Weston) despite its frequent disregard of rhyme and meter.  Its double meaning metaphor carries through the sung portion of the song and is cemented with the spoken poem at the end.  It was written as a duet, and in the places where both voices are singing each is regarded its own melody, neither a harmony of the other.

This recording was made using Record Producer Plus with a Soundblaster sound card; the instruments are all programmed midis, and I sang both voices.  Here are the words:

Reality has come over me as I slip away from myself.
The people I know can’t tell the truth,
And I don’t think I even care.
I can see the face of a thousand people passing by on a train.
The silence of a world as they pass on by still resounds in my brain.

Shed a tear (shed a tear) for all the earth (for all the earth),
For she has closed her eyes to all the pain!
What will you do when it comes to you?
Will you run or will you hide?
I can hear the screaming–

Lambs to the slaughter, they open not their mouth.
A sacrifice displeasing to their God
(The innocent must die).
Smoke is rising from eternal fire.
The one we would expect
Would be there to protect
Now breaks his vow and deals the fatal blow.

Shed a tear (shed a tear) for all the earth (for all the earth),
For she has closed her eyes to all the pain!
What will you do when it comes to you?
Will you run or will you hide?
I can hear the screaming–

I was dumb when they took my neighbor
(I hear those footsteps getting closer),
Held my tongue when they took my friend
(Oh, my heart, no need to be afraid).
I was still when they took my brother
(They’ll never take me).
Who will speak up for me?

The sacred dream is ended in the silent scream!
The breath of life is stifled by the surgeon’s knife!

A holocaust inevitably comes
To those who place themselves too high,
To those who teach themselves the lie
That life and death is in their hand–

Mere men!  Too small to understand
The truth, the value of one soul.
And so their wisdom takes its toll
In infants shattered on the rock–

Such pain!  And yet it does not shock
Our hardened hearts, our souls of ash–
We throw their bodies in the trash
And tell ourselves, it’s for the best.

And that is how we treat the rest–
The useless crippled, and the old.
With every death our heart grows cold
‘Til someone puts us in our tomb.

The gift of God comes in a maiden’s womb.

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

#299: Praise for Dallas Holm

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #299, on the subject of Praise for Dallas Holm.

It must have been 1977; it can’t have been later than 1978.  Jeff Zurheide and I met with a young singer interested in forming a band, who was absolutely focused on doing music from Dallas Holm.  He did a passable job on Holm’s signature song, Rise Again released on the 1977 album Dallas Holm and Praise Live, which had become a major Christian hit.  We might have met with the guy twice.

Almost a decade and at least half a dozen albums later that was still the song people wanted to hear from Dallas Holm.  It came from the first certified gold Christian contemporary music album, was recorded by him and many other artists over the years, and the only negative thing that can be said about it is that it overshadowed the rest of his career.  Even I, who heard quite a few of those albums and aired many of those songs, can only remember one other, itself a powerful if slightly country song that is mostly forgotten, (He Died of) A Broken Heart, and I barely remember that one myself, and I recall even less well Jesus I’m an Open Book, in the same stylistic vein.

This happens to Christian artists quite frequently.  Despite his long career both with and after Love Song, Chuck Girard was mostly remembered for Sometimes Alleluia.  Still ahead in this series we’ll see other artists who are remembered for one song despite long careers with many hits–Don Francisco, Evie Tornquist Carlsen, Karen Lafferty, Kathy Troccoli, Randy Matthews, Scott Wesley Brown, David Meece, Wayne Watson, Dan Peek, and if I thought long enough I might remember more.  Listeners latch onto a song and that’s the one they want to hear, and so the stations play what the listeners request, and the new songs never have a chance against the old ones.  Rise Again so dominated Dallas Holm’s career that it is doubtful whether anyone other than diehard fans and music industry people could name another song of his that charted.

Still, to have produced one great song that is still remembered is a noteworthy accomplishment, and if you have not heard that song, you are the poorer for 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.