27 January 2012

Music Day

This man is probably one of the most controversial artists in the history of Christian music. And for once, it wasn't because there was a beat to his material (as was the case with artists like Petra and Larry Norman).

Listen to the lyrics of today's song and I think it'll be self-evident (especially if you've ever been a part of a church congregation that was more concerned about tradition and appearances than Jesus). Stereotypical church pew-warmers do not take kindly to biting satire such as this. Think of Lecrae with way more sarcasm.

I think something I read on the back of a greatest-hits album sums up this artist's recordings pretty well... '...his music either offended people or woke them up.'

You know, as I type that I realise that pretty much describes the Gospel in general. It'll either offend you or wake you up. Who are we as artists to dumb it down to the point where it's not only entirely inoffensive, it's a complete waste of time whether you're a Christian or not? To omit any part of the Gospel is to change it. If it's changed, it's no longer the Gospel but some rule-direction religion merely based on it. In a matter of eternal life and death of millions of people, this is not something to skim over.

Ah, but I'm going off on a tangent again. Here's the song:

Title: I Want To Be A Clone
Artist: Steve Taylor
Album: I Want To Be A Clone
Year: 1983
Label: Sparrow Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.
(Just a warning if you love the song so much you click over to the live version in the YouTube sidebar: there is an almost illegal amount of eighties hair in that clip.)

Does the name look familiar? That's because Steve Taylor is the man who helped the Newsboys rise to fame nearly twenty years ago now (has it really been that long? I feel old now...). He's written scores of songs with Peter Furler for the band and for Peter Furler's solo album (released last summer). I'm pretty sure he produced the Newsboys for much of the '90s, though don't quote me on that.

They told me that I'd fall away unless I follow what they say
"Who needs the Bible anyway?"

25 January 2012

Just A Thought...

Isn't it ridiculous how no-one lets you do anything with your life until you've wasted four or more of the most promising years of it getting a piece of paper that says you are now 'qualified' to live your life now that it's four years shorter?

23 January 2012


Tonight I was feeling empty.

I wanted, in that just-get-started-and-once-you-get-going-it'll-be-fun way, to do some choreography, but I wasn't really feeling it.

I felt completely lifeless inside. Like there was no emotion, no soul, nothing.

Is that not the most frightening feeling in the world? That there is this moment to seize and to enjoy and to make the most of because you will never have this moment again, and you just don't care, however much you want to?

With some reluctance, I brought up the iTunes window (it never even gets closed anymore) and began to scroll rather halfheartedly through the album artwork, waiting for something to catch my attention.

What song could possibly wake me up, clear my head, snap me out of this funk?

Then I remembered a post the Kid In The Front Row made the other day, asking music-type questions of the readership (he does it a lot -- gets the readers involved, listens to their opinions. I like that). Naturally, I gave a lot of thought to it before putting in my two cents and letting the snapshot of my musical tastes of the moment be taken.

One of the questions was something along the lines of What song brightens your day when you're down? or something to that effect.

I had answered with Farrell & Farrell's People In A Box (because, let's face it, that song is so charmingly dated it can't help but make you smile). I had also mentioned Petra's Adonai.

Well... I hadn't heard People In A Box in a couple of weeks. I scrolled to it and began to play.

Then I thought, heck, why not listen to the other Farrell & Farrell song I have? And the one that Bob Farrell wrote with DeGarmo & Key that I've really been liking lately?

So I listened to the other two as well.

Hosanna Gloria and Let The Whole World Sing.

(If you liked Adonai, you will totally love these two. Unfortunately, the latter is not to be had on the iTunes Store and is only available on YouTube as a part of a live medley.)

Both are beautiful songs. The message and the passion with which it's presented smoothed out my paranoia to the point of invisibility and totally relaxed me. God is great, He is glorious, He is worthy to be praised. There is nothing to fear.

I can now tell you first-hand if you are a Christian artist and you are striving to glorify God in all you do, then your work is not in vain. It can uplift a fellow brother or sister when they need it, showing them that God is still in control, and He is still glorious. Keep singing, keep writing, keep dancing for the glory of God. He can use it even twenty-five years later in a little bedroom in rural Alberta at one in the morning to remind a frightened lagging spirit that God is still there for them to praise.

And now I'm listening to Newsboys -- Presence (My Heart's Desire); He Reigns; You Are My King (Amazing Love); and Take My Hands (Praises).

All of my life
I looked for the reason You created me
Now I realise I was given just
To sing a song of praise to Thee...

-- DeGarmo & Key, Let The Whole World Sing
(from Mission Of Mercy, Power Discs, 1983)

20 January 2012

Music Day

A new favourite of mine.

This band's prominence on Christian radio at the time this album was released would lead one (myself included) to believe that they were more of a pop group (at best), or, more likely, an 'adult contemporary' group. Something like Michael W. Smith then, or perhaps a slightly edgier Casting Crowns today.

The more I expand my Christian-rock horizons, though, and the more I listen to the band's heyday records, the more I realise that this stuff is actually straight-up rock, though of course Christian radio at the time only entertained the 'milder' cuts.

Shame this song never hit the airwaves though (at least not that I'm aware of). The guitar/kazoo mix in here is absolutely brilliant.

Title: It's All Who You Know
Artist: Newsboys
Album: Take Me To Your Leader
Year: 1996
Label: Star Song
iTunes here; YouTube here.

And after the fall
After all of our strivings are dust
Even so
Good for us
It's all who you know...

13 January 2012

Music Day

Hi everyone!

So you're probably (hopefully) starting to wonder why on earth I haven't posted anything more than Music Day lately.

Well, this is why:

Photo by Kate

Despite appearances, no, I didn't upload the wrong photo. This is a small part of what I've been working on lately.

That's choreography -- the (rough draft) intro to today's featured song, in fact.

See, my search for choreography resources was not entirely a waste. I found a book on eBay, Dance Notation For Beginners, and bought it.

Lately I've finally gotten around to seriously reading it rather than just skimming it every once in a while and starting to apply everything I've learnt so that it sticks in my mind and becomes natural (It's working too -- the other day my dance teacher asked us to put our feet in fifth, left foot front, and right away I thought of how it would be notated, though I'd only reached that part earlier this week).

It's a little confusing as the notation I'm learning is written as if you were watching the dancer perform it from behind. Prior to this I was writing little stick figures on a musical stave and was writing them as if watching them from the front -- that is, as if I were a member in the audience. It wasn't particularly precise though. It really only served as a memory aid so that I could later remember the dances and write them in a more common notation. Now that I'm learning 'official' notation I hope to break out of the habit of stick figures and thus speed up the whole process (it's astounding how time-consuming it can be to draw basic stick figures).

Now, about the song.

This was the song that sold me on classicchristian247.com the night I was introduced to it. I don't remember what the first song was that I heard, but this was the second.

I already knew the artist -- my father has quite a few of their records. Though I didn't recognise the song, knowing the artist, I think, helped solidify my allegiance to the station.

Over the next few weeks I heard the song several times. Each time I caught a few more of the words, committed another portion of the tune to my memory, before I finally looked it up on iTunes and bought a copy for myself.

This reminds me of my own nostalgia. The child in their father's vehicle listening to their parents talk... remembering those days with fondness and with gratitude that they got to experience them.

And all set to a now-nostalgic eighties pop sound.

This song sets me daydreaming, quite simply. It reminds me of all those good times of my own childhood, just as this very style of music was falling out of favour.

Title: Every Moment
Artist: DeGarmo & Key
Album: Streetlight
Year: 1986
Label: Power Discs
iTunes here; YouTube here.

I remember riding in the back seat
Of my daddy's Chevrolet car...

06 January 2012

Music Day

Just in time for a new year of Music Day posts, I've acquired a considerable amount of music in the past few weeks.

It started with the discovery of classicchristian247.com this past November. Not only have I discovered songs from my childhood that I had previously not known the names of, I have also discovered other music I've come to enjoy. (I would have said 'new music' except it's mostly from the eighties.)

However, the music they play on the station that I tend to like usually exceeds the iTunes Store's repertoire. So I turned to eBay.

In the past month or so, I've rounded out my entire White Heart collection (save Don't Wait For The Movie), gotten that one last Petra album that iTunes steadfastly refuses to carry, and bought at least one album from a flash-in-the-pan because I kept hearing songs from that artist on the radio.

Then, just before Christmas, I stopped at the second-hand store. I needed one last component for my little sister's gift and my mother suggested looking at the second-hand shop.

What I needed conveniently happened to be right next to the music section. So while I waited for my mother to return (she had dropped me off and taken the rattletrap to get groceries), I browsed through the music.

There I found Jars Of Clay's debut album on cassette, plus Steven Curtis Chapman's Signs Of Life, Newsboys' Take Me To Your Leader, and Petra's Petra Praise 2 on CD. All told it was less than five dollars. All of the CDs are in good condition and at least side one of the cassette is good (I haven't gotten around to the second side yet).

For Christmas my parents got me two Newsboys albums I didn't yet have and a friend got me an iTunes gift card, which, when added to the store credit I already had, yielded nearly fifty dollars. I'm still chipping away at that.

And now... I've talked about getting a USB record player for years now. My father has quite a collection of 1980s Christian records, most of which I'd also fallen in love with back when I was four or five years old and he would play DJ in our living room in the evenings, spinning his favourite songs on vinyl and CD for our enjoyment. Even now, hearing the songs he played most often brings me back to those evenings when I would sit by the stereo with him on our brand-new white carpet and look at all the album covers and -- perhaps most importantly -- look for the copyright year of each one (because even back then I was nerdy enough to care about this).

Anyway, back to the story.

So the other day I needed something at the electronics store. My father came with me, saying he wanted to look at something.

We left the store with the cable I needed... plus a shiny new record player. I think it was a purchase for him more than it was for me -- I've never seen him so excited.

Long story short I've spent the better part of the past two or three days importing vinyl. I intend to convert a few of his favourite albums to CD for his birthday next week, but right now I'm high on all his DeGarmo & Key and David Meece albums. (Though I'm sure he would enjoy having those on CD too -- after all, he evidently liked their music if he kept buying their records.)

So today, after much deliberation, I have decided to feature this:

Title: You Are The One
Artist: Keith Green
Album: Songs For The Shepherd
Year: 1982
Label: Pretty Good Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.

(Note this is Keith Green, not to be confused with Steve Green (this confused me to no end as a child). Keith Green was the guy with the really thick curly hair who died in a plane crash. Steve Green, as far as I know, is still around (in fact, I think he's still recording).)

When I first heard a Keith Green song, about a year or so ago, I wasn't particularly impressed. I don't remember which song it was, but I remember thinking it was rather boring.

However, after a couple of months of hearing his work on the radio, it's started to grow on me. I think he composed with the piano rather than the guitar, a rarity in Christian music to say the least (David Meece is the only other Christian artist I can think of right this second who also composes on the piano). In fact, I read a review of a Keith Green album once that said simply, 'Keith Green makes the piano keys sing.' The more I listen to his songs, the more I'm inclined to agree. The rock feel of some of his other material (not so much in this song) has a sort of 'class' that isn't easily found elsewhere. I like electric-guitar-based rock as much as the next person, but piano-based rock is a nice burst of fresh air.

Another thing I've grown like about his music is the passion, the love he had for God. You hear it especially in the song I just posted... you can hear the smile in his voice, like he's almost about to laugh just from joy. It's such a simple song, but he has so much fun singing it you can't help singing along.

I was dying
But You gave Your life for me