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Another Rock and Roll Christmas

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I am continuing to post about Christmas and so tonight some classic Christmas and holiday songs performed by various Rock and Roll artists and groups.

I realize that it is not quite  Christmas yet, and in fact it is still the season of Advent but I have to admit that I love the holiday season, especially the music. But I am a child of the 1960s and 1970s, so I have certain preferences in in music and Christmas music comes in many forms and genres. Over the next couple of weeks I will be doing a number of articles like this which have no purpose but to share a little joy through music. I plan on doing one focusing on the great R & B legends, one with Country artists, and a couple dealing with the stories of White Christmas and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, as well as the many different versions of both.

These holiday season I hope that no matter what holiday you celebrate that you do it with a joyful heart, even if it is Festivus, which it is tomorrow, or today when many of you are reading this.

So here are some great songs put out by some great artists and groups over the years, they are in no particular order. Some are traditional Christmas hymns while others are popular Christmas songs without a particularly religious bent, and many are sung by artists who are not practicing Christians, some of whom would be condemned to hell by many conservative Christians. Maybe that speaks to the power of the holiday, and the hope that it brings to so many people.

I hope you enjoy them.

Peace

Padre Steve+

Elton John, Step into Christmas

Elvis Presley, Blue Christmas

Paul McCartney and Wings, Having a Wonderful Christmastime

Freddy Mercury and Queen, Thank God it’s Christmas

The Bangles, Hazy Shade of Winter

The Beach Boys, Little Saint Nick

Band Aid 1984, Do They Know It’s Christmas

Billy Idol, Jingle Bell Rock

The Carpenters, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Wham! Last Christmas 

Jose Feliciano, Feliz Navidad

Chicago, O Come All Ye Faithful

Annie Lennox and Al Green, Put a Little Love in Your Heart

Gary Glitter, Another Rock and Roll Christmas

George Harrison, Dong, Dong, Ding Dong

Herman’s Hermit’s O Holy Night

Chuck Berry, Run, Run Rudolph

Mariah Carey, All I Want for Christmas is You

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Christmas All over Again

Blondie, We Three Kings

The Eagles, Please Come Home for Christmas 

Rod Stewart, Let it Snow

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Little Drummer Boy

Nat King Cole, The Christmas Song

Twisted Sister, White Christmas

John Lennon, Happy Christmas (War is Over)

Bruce Springsteen, Baby Please Come Home

Stevie Nicks, Silent Night

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Christmas Goes Pop: A Holiday Music Buffet

Friends of Padre Steve’s Word,

Once again I delve into the vault of Christmas Past and post yet another collection of Christmas music from various Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country artists that I enjoy. I hope that you will as well.

I grew up in the 1960’s 1970’s and went to college in the 1980s. As such my musical taste reflects much of the Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country crossovers of the era. So here are some of those artists performing some of their Christmas music. I have also included some more contemporary artists whose music I enjoy. Some are religious in nature and some not. While some are just fun to listen to there are others that speak to the sadness and melancholy that some people feel this time of year. As I have grown older I have come to appreciate non-religious Christmas or holiday music, especially that which touches the deepest emotions and longings that I feel, just as much as I do the traditional hymns of Advent and Christmas. I find it interesting as I have mentioned before that so many of the performers are people who would not be welcome in any church because of their faith, or lack of, their politics, or their sexual preference. But I digress…

I have posted over sixty songs here and they are no particular order, and I hope that you enjoy them.  My wish is that you enjoy the Christmas or whatever holiday you are celebrating; after all the key is to enjoy life and hopefully love as well this holiday season.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

 

 

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Pop Goes Christmas: A Holiday Music Collection 

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Pop Goes the Christmas

Friends of Padre Steve’s Word,

I have been immersing myself in a lot of Christmas and other holiday music as it is one of the few things that can put me into a mood suitable for the season, otherwise I would be as jolly as George Costanza at Festivus, yes “Serenity Now!”

I grew up in the 1960’s 1970’s and went to college in the 1980s. As such my musical taste reflects much of the Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country crossovers of the era. So here are some of those artists performing some of their Christmas music. I have also included some more contemporary artists whose music I enjoy. Some are religious in nature and some not. While some are just fun to listen to there are others that speak to the sadness and melancholy that some people feel this time of year. As I have grown older I have come to appreciate non-religious Christmas or holiday music, especially that which touches the deepest emotions and longings that I feel, just as much as I do the traditional hymns of Advent and Christmas. I find it interesting as I have mentioned before that so many of the performers are people who would not be welcome in any church because of their faith, or lack of, their politics, or their sexual preference. But I digress…

I have posted over sixty songs here and they are no particular order, and I hope that you enjoy them.  My wish is that you enjoy the Christmas or whatever holiday you are celebrating; after all the key is to enjoy life and hopefully love as well this holiday season.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Rockin’ Christmas: Music for Anyone to Get into the Spirit of the Season

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Christmas music comes in many forms and genres. Some is quite traditional yet like any music Christmas music has captured the hearts of many artists over the decades of recorded on records, tapes, CDs and now digital media.

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One genre where Christmas music has found a home for the last 60 years or so has been Rock and Roll. I think a great bridge between the more traditional and the contemporary is the duet of Little Drummer Boy between Bing Crosby and David Bowie  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiXjbI3kRus

Of course this is in no way an exhaustive list of these songs, just some plucked from memory that I could find music videos of and which I might not have already done on past years articles. I think that some of these are on multiple posts but still, they struck me tonight.

I usually listen to 60s, 70s or 80‘s music whenever I drive but I think soon I will switch over to Christmas music on my Sirius radio. Maybe I will switch back and forth depending on my mood and the traffic. That being said here are some of the more interesting Christmas songs, some religious, some non-religious by some Rock artists from the 50s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, some of whom are still around recording new versions of Christmas songs.

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Some of the earliest Rock and Roll Christmas songs included a number by Elvis Presley  including the classic Blue Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzHfQk7ATU0 . Brenda Lee’s  Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6xNuUEnh2g and Bobby Helms’ Jingle Bell Rock  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itcMLwMEeMQ seem never to get old, in fact they have been recorded by others. 1980’s new wave rocker  Billy Idol did a classy version of the latter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itcMLwMEeMQ nor can we forget the legendary Chuck Berry who recorded Run Run Rudolph http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCTeXUkTFwQ&list=PLD104FAECADC5F176 which has also had many artists release it since Berry first did.

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The members of the Beatles are not absent from the list. The Beatles released a version of Christmas Time is Here Again http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4vE5DnFWV0  while the members of the Fab Four all released Christmas songs. John Lennon’s  Happy Christmas (War is Over) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPm3CWvDmvc  is a modern classic. Paul McCartney and Wings turned Wonderful Christmas Time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1-sXrdQtog into a massive hit. Ringo Starr’s Glam Rock Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaguXYTXYoA was less memorable while George Harrison’s Ding Dong, Ding Dong was an upbeat and funny song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VggAH1dk3Qk .

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Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermit’s released a version of O Holy Night http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfOqingPZzk while The Beach Boy’s Little Saint Nick http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSynDh_K0EE brought us a very California rendition of a Santa Song. Simon and Garfunkel did Comfort and Joy (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uB_oFQXv3w

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Some of the biggest acts of the 1970s had popular Christmas releases including Gary Glitter who released Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn06NJzYQc4 . Freddie Mercury and Queen released Thank God it’s Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIUmggOhHCM and the Eagles Please Come Home for Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1AaMe1KbwE was a pleading look at a broken relationship. Chicago had a number of Christmas releases including Christmas Time is Here  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8B0jyKBF4U and O Come All Ye Faithful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-9hrvoFpp4 .

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They were not alone British rocker Cliff Richard released Christmas Time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9U0R1kCRzU, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed Christmas All Over Again http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaPj1GoDpQw. Foghat released a version of All I want for Christmas is You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUv7T_Uq6QU, Bruce Springsteen did Santa Claus is Coming to Town  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CIebZ4RtgY and The Bee Gees Thank You For Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rm6pI8ybtA .

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The groups of the late 1970s and early to mid 1980s are represented. Blondie has always been one of my favorite groups. This is a fairly recent release of We Three Kings http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vecWPafdDQ while Pat Benatar released a somewhat patriotic song called Christmas in America  http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xwgmps_pat-benatar-christmas-in-america_music, maybe we as Americans need to be thankful for what we have at Christmas.

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The classic bad girl, Joan Jett did the Little Drummer Boy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3Qwx8OTV-k , the Girl Band the Bangles performed A Hazy Shade of Winter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvvSQkUK-t4.  One of the more unusual acts who not only did a Christmas song but an entire Heavy Metal Christmas Album was Twisted Sister who have a classic version of White Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_1X-VEhHFc.

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Classic Rockers Stevie Nicks and Rod Stewart did nice versions of classics, Stevie did  Silent Night http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZPyphUNO6k while Stewart performed  White Christmas  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EvQOmjXCxc.

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Like I said, this list is not exhaustive. Since as I do it I keep remembering more I figure I will stop for the night and hope that at least some of these songs help get you into the spirit of the season. After all, there is so much negativity that whether you are a Christian or not the season does present us all the chance to maybe see something positive in ourselves and our neighbors. So with Elton John I invite you my friends to Step Into Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDqi8ENS1FU

 

 

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Still More Reasons Why I Miss the Music of the 1970s

Yesterday I posted an article regarding some the the songs that became a part of my life during my time at Edison High School in the 1970s. That post featured some of the great Funk, Soul, Blues and Disco songs of the era. Since I have been in a 1970s retro mood of late I figured that I would do another anthology article about songs that I still love from the 1970s. These are songs that were hits on the Pop Charts featuring solo artists as well as groups. They range from Elvis and former Beatles members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, to soul greats Robert Flack and Tina Turner, classic vocalists like Olivia Newton-John and Neil Diamond, Country crossovers John Denver and Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton to the super groups that got their start in the 1970s, ABBA, Blondie, Fleetwood Mac, Chicago, Heart, Queen, Kiss and the Eagles.

One thing to notice, just as in yesterday’s article is that the majority of these artists and groups didn’t need a lot of help, they had the goods and were excellent in the studio and on stage. The on stage performances, even when the video is not so great are electric to watch.

I have tried to make sure that the videos are from concerts or live performances so readers that did not live through that era can get a taste of a time where though times were tough and life often turbulent that people could deal with life. The songs are about life, love, heartbreak, good times and sometimes just plain fun. They are in no particular order, just the how they popped into my mind as I thought back to those times and then searched the internet.

I hope you enjoy the journey and the music as much as I did.

Peace

Padre Steve+

ABBA: Chiquitita http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzdfPEsf7qY

Barry Manilow: Mandy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GK8-gZVkYsk

Linda Ronstadt: You’re no Good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hr9vKWLgZzo

The Captain and Tennille: Love Will Keep us Together http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjloX_EvYiI

Olivia Newton John: Have You Never Been Mellow http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IFQZyxxyyM

Rod Stewart: The First Cut is the Deepest http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1XJ72BPXao

Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7wwZVB4yMI

Bee Gees: How Deep is Your Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpqqjU7u5Yc

Heart: Crazy on You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gpNqB4dnT4&feature=related

Village People: YMCA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS9OO0S5w2k

Neil Diamond: Sweet Caroline http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vhFnTjia_I

Dr Hook and the Medicine Show: When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxpYN-NK54Y

Blondie: Heart of Glass http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGU_4-5RaxU

Eagles: Hotel California http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1iv6lof5JM&feature=related

Chicago: If You Leave Me Now http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1ykMNtzMT8

Roberta Flack: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9jmusgMgro&feature=related

John Denver: Take Me Home Country Roads http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukUL_I14GPw

Elvis Presley: Suspicious Minds http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBmAPYkPeYU

Paul McCartney and Wings: Silly Love Songs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQgUPxgqnfA

Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ

Glen Campbell: Rhinestone Cowboy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-p8wDhK5LyY

Ringo Starr: The No No Song (With the Smothers Brothers) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQgUPxgqnfA

Albert Hammond: It Never Rains in Southern California http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pyC7WnvLT4

Kiss: Rock and Roll all Night Long http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Env5iMrBjws

Tina Turner: Rollin’ on the River http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brdqJ29PQac

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton: Islands in the Stream http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=recWNQddJeE&feature=related

Rupert Holmes: Escape (The Pina Colada Song) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaOXWJKsX-U

Fleetwood Mac: Go Your Own Way http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GN2kpBoFs4

Donna Summer: Last Dance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cPIT_T3mYU

And finally a thank you…

ABBA: Thank You for the Music http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dcbw4IEY5w


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Driving to the Music: Padre Steve’s Traveling Music Part One

I’m back in North Carolina after a quick trip home and despite a number of things that I want to write about just feel like I want to chill out tonight.  I have been doing some reading of late, I finished a couple of books recently on religion and public life and I am continuing to read Eric Hoffer’s classic primer on the psychology of mass movements The True Believer and re-reading the first volume of Richard Evans trilogy on Nazi Germany The Coming of the Third Reich.  I have also started a book that I picked up a few years back Roger Knight’s tome on the life of Admiral Horatio Nelson The Pursuit of Victory. But enough about reading this article is about music, the kind of music that I like.

Sometimes it is good just to chill out. I haven’t spent much time online this weekend and with the exceptions of checking the headlines I haven’t done much looking at the news the past couple of days.

Since driving throughEastern North Carolinahas become a big part of my life over the past year and one of the few benefits to driving is listening to the music that I enjoyed in high school and college.  This is in large part due to dearth of interesting radio programming that exists in this part of the state. This article will be the fist of several dealing with some of my favorite songs and since I do a lot of driving between Virginia Beach and Camp LeJeune figured why not do a couple of articles about some of my favorite road music.

Sports radio, which is my default setting since I gave up AM Talk Radio afterIraqis in short supply. My local Virginia Beach ESPN Radio 94.1 only reaches toElizabethCityand the local ESPN AM stations in the Jacksonville-New Bern area are very limited in coverage being low power stations.  I like NPR but there are wide gaps in coverage in this area and the weekend line up is not the most exciting and sometimes by my standards pretty lame.  There are a plethora of low power “Christian” or “Gospel” stations as well as Country and Western stations along the route but I am not a big C&W fan and am definitely not a fan of what passes for music or preaching on the religious stations.  There is one pretty good “Oldies” station, FM 107.9 WNCT inGreenvillethat has a nice selection and good coverage area but there I times that I want to be in control of my music.  When I do get a new car when this tour is over and I don’t have to have to pay for two places to live I will get some kind of satellite radio system but for now I’ll make due with my collection of CDs especially the ones that I had made with collections of my favorite music. I know that I am dating myself with CDs but maybe I will eventually move all my music to the digital side of the house on my I-Phone someday but I’m too lazy and don’t want to spend the money until I have to actually do it, I think I remember doing the same with LPs, 45s and cassette tapes.

The music that I like was what was on the radio back when I rode the bus to junior high and high school and when I got my first car during my senior year of high school.  I remember listening to the late “Doctor” Donald D Rose who had the morning show on KFRC San Francisco during the 1970s as well as the local Stockton AM station KJOY both of which were AM Top 40 stations.  In college I would listen to Kasey Kasem’s American Top 40 on Saturday and Sunday mornings when making dough and doing food prep at Shakey’s Pizza.

Since I am a now a relic by the standards of young people having come of age in the 1970s and early 1980s my music taste reflects my era.  Now I do like other music but my favorite is the music that I grew up with so here are a few links to music videos of some of my favorite groups and artists who still manage to keep me alert and focused behind the wheel as I travel the highways and byways ofEastern North Carolina.

I always like the Eagles and for driving music one must start with Take it Easy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL683aq49_M which is a great driving song and relaxing at the same time as I start my trip on I-264 inVirginia Beach.

Of course driving in Hampton Roads is no picnic and Kenny Loggins Danger Zone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwL5xmhJejQ from the classic Naval Aviation movie Top Gun is a perfect song for traveling on our roads.

Olivia Newton’s John Magic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7WPwH8Rd6g is a bit of a change of pace when I get snarled in traffic in Chesapeake or when I hit the Downtown tunnel in Norfolk depending on the route that I try to use to get out of the Hampton Roads metro area.

Judy says that I never tire of Abba; indeed I think I have almost every song and album that the Swedish super group ever recorded.  I find that a lot of Abba songs are great road music and that Waterloo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj_9CiNkkn4 the hit that launched them to stardom in 1972 has a nice feel at 70 mph on the US 17 bypass around Washington NC.    

 

Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcjzHMhBtf0 is one that I like as I begin to pick up the pace on either US 17 or US 13 once I break free into the open country.

I always loved the big voice of the late Laura Branigan who died far too young of a brain aneurism in 2003, her song Gloria http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tVutw8rjFk is about a woman living in the fast lane and going a bit crazy in the process. The song remained on the Billboard “Hot 100” for 36 weeks in 1982. The song makes for great open country driving, especially when you have to pass someone doing 48 mph in a 60 plus zone just because they can.

 

Blondie’s  Dreaming http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4-1MhH7dwQ and Heart of Glass http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1all9_blondie-heart-of-glass_music were favorites in college and from when Judy and I started dating back in 1979.   I can listen to Blondie songs all day long and on some trips Blondie is all that I listen.  Today was kind of cool because I listened to their new album Panic of Girls a couple of times on first part of the trip.

Rod Stewart was a favorite back then and still is for me today and though he has done a lot of work lately with classic pre-rock and roll era songs I always liked his early work the best including Maggie May http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfWl1Fn-FrE&feature=related .  This is a more recent concert version of the classic.

The music from the movie soundtrack of The Blues Brothers is always nice to drive to and when you are driving alone it is always good to know that Everybody needs Somebody to Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCTJeT2i9QU.

Then there is Starship and the great Grace Slick with Nothing’s Going to Stop us Now http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0w5s6V8rQH4 which is great on the final stretch of any trip.

That’s enough for tonight.  Have a great week and remember that this is Veteran’s Day week so thank a veteran.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Flashback to Early Contemporary Christian Music

Me, top row 3rd from right with Continental Singers Tour G 1979 at Mount Rushmore

I became an active Christian a few years after what is now called ContemporaryChristian Music came on the scene.  Back then it was simple called “Jesus Music.”  Over the last 35 years or so I have seen this genre of Christian music morph from a small segment of the music scene to a rather large and profitable industry. I really don’t listen to too much of the new stuff in fact unless the artist was around in the late 1970s or early 1980s I probably wouldn’t know anything about them or their music.

In those days it was still possible to hang out with groups when they came into town. In 1979 the group The Sweet Comfort Band came to my hometown, Stockton California for a series of concerts in local high schools (God forbid this happen today) culminating with a Friday night concert at one of the larger churches in town.  The guys were down to earth and real and talked about real life, even movies not just church.  That was eye opening because it kind of blew away my idea that “Christian” artist were somehow a step above the rest of us.  These guys showed me that Christians could be down to earth and able to relate to people.  I was able to meet others at the 1979 Continental Singers rehearsal camp as I prepared to go as a Spotlight Technician with the Continental Singers Tour G.

When this genre of music first came out the record labels that carried the new contemporary artists were either labels that had previously carried gospel singers such as Word and Light and start ups such as Maranatha! Music, Sparrow/Birdwing Music and Larry Norman’ Solid Rock Records.  When larger secular labels discovered that there was money to be made they acquired most of these labels giving them more visibility but I think less independence than they had previously.

The music was as diverse and the artists performing the songs, everything from rock and country rock, to jazz and middle of the road music.  Some artists had been successful secular recording artists before becoming Christians or rediscovering the faith that they had grown up with.  The music varied in quality, some groups were very good and even pushed the edges of artistic license allowed in Evangelical Christianity while others were not that good and were pushed into the limelight because they had long hair and played guitars.  Some of the bands such as Love Song would achieve a certain status in Contemporary Christian music that long outlived the length of time that they were in existence.  Some bands were one album wonders while some like Daniel Amos remained together for many years.

As the genre grew a sub-genre of contemporary praise and worship music grew out of Calvary Chapel beginning with an album called The Praise Album. These were simple worship songs that small groups especially youth groups and college age groups could easily sing with just a guitar. They fit what John Wesley said about hymns was that they must be easily sung and not complicated.  As such they grew in popularity and many other churches and recording labels got in on the game in opinion saturating the market with music that is only remarkable in its poor quality and insipid theology.  The theology in most of the early songs was simple, based around Jesus and God’s love and not written to advance quasi politic agendas. There was not the warlike quality of many of today’s so called “worship music.”  I know that some will rake me over the coals for this but I have a hard time calling something worship when it is nothing more than a rally or fight song.  Some of these early songs are here: Freely, Freely http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCLconoyX9I As the Deer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvQwvDfY5dk&p=90917541439498D0&playnext=1&index=82 In His Time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pjab00qQG3k&feature=related, Karen Lafferty’s Seek Ye First http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LMQfOp9w8k&feature=related The Servant King http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwIukabdw3E and the Spirit Song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqkvIhs7Ijg

But in this essay I’m going to go back in time and look at some of the early artists and their music beginning in the early 1970s and ending in the mid-1980s.  This is kind of an arbitrary line because in 1984 I left the United States for a three year tour with the Army in Germany where I lost track of most of what was going on in Christian music and when I returned did not find the newer artists as much to my liking.  For me it was simply a matter of musical preference.  It is hard to find much of this music now. Many songs were only on LPs and produced in limited quantities. Since many were obscure and this was before the digital age very few video recordings exist for many groups.  As such some people have taken audios and mixed them with slide shows or videos or the videos are from “reunion” type concerts 20-30 years after the songs were first introduced.

The revolution in Christian music began in Costa Mesa California at a little country church called Calvary Chapel. The church made the effort to reach the “hippies” that hung around the beach towns including many musicians. The group Love Song was perhaps the first group to reach any form of national prominence and their songs such as Little Country Church http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZkWrn9SXwo&feature=related, and Two Hands http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW12P7upc6o&feature=related became early examples of how the music could be popular and contemporary.  The lead singer of the group Chuck Girard went solo and made a number of albums but Rock and Roll Preacher was one of his signature songs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_I3R3tC6Rk&feature=related

Other Calvary Chapel Groups that recorded on the new Maranatha! Music lable included the Children of the Day who released For those Tears I Died http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np8GJGZ3Vv8 Mustard Seed Faith who released Sail on Sailor http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPDAC4-ZkEc&feature=related the country rock band Bethlehem and Desert Song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMkpLzomcxM&feature=related as well as Bill Sprouse and The Road Home who had one song that made the group before Sprouse died, the song  Psalm 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gJ2XPDf_jE and The Way who produced two albums under Marantha one of their songs being Song of Joy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77Le6G63eZY .

Two other groups Daniel Amos and the Sweet Comfort Band also hailed from the early days of Maranatha Music.  Both groups endured and although they had different music styles they could both have fun with their music as well as make provocative statements about the church and how Christians related to society.  Daniel Amos initially was a country rock band with a sound somewhat similar to the Eagles.  They would retain some of this but moved on to some of the more cutting edge New Wave Rock styles of the 1980s.  Their signature album was Shotgun Angel a country rock album with a side two that was a mini concert about the Second Coming of Christ from a Pre-Tribulation Dispensational theology understanding, an understanding that was quite common in the groups of that day. That album included Black Gold Fever,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZkWrn9SXwo&feature=related, Shotgun Angel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFD8_-v4bhw&feature=related, Posse in the Sky http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwa5gep9CBc&feature=related and Fall in Your Father’s Arms http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOTar60srFg&feature=related.  Their First Album include one of my favorite songs of the ear I Ain’t Gonna Fight it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=intea3oCcDk Later releases include the albums Horrendous Disc and Alarma! The song I Believe in You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMkpLzomcxM&feature=related from Horrendous Disc and Walls of Doubt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbFTcGAAQkk&feature=related from Alarma! Interestingly enough Daniel Amos is considered by some to be one of the best bands from a creativity standpoint in the 1980s Christian or secular.  The group stayed together and after they broke up Terry Taylor the leader of the group formed other bands including The Swirling Eddies and the Lost Dogs. One of the more interesting songs of the Swirling Eddies is Hide the Beer the Pastor’s Herehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b74VWclpH6c which deals with some of the hypocrisy of some Christians who will condemn someone for drinking yet excuse all sorts of other unseemly behaviors.

A second group from the Maranatha label was the Sweet Comfort Band. This band led by Bryan Duncan and Randy Thomas had a light jazz and rock style that featured Randy Thomas Jazz Guitar and brothers Kevin Thompson’s Alembic 5 string bass guitar and Rick Thompson’s drums.  The group produced a number of albums before they broke up in the late 1980s with Bryan Duncan going solo. They have on occasion gotten together in reunion concerts though Kevin Thomas died in May of this year.  Their first album Sweet Comfort which came out on the Maranatha label included Childish Things http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6R8wY0DCI3A&feature=related When I was Alone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbFTcGAAQkk&feature=related It’s so Fine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igp9WJ7QLUE&feature=related and Get Ready http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EhcPuwBvZg where Kevin had a great bass solo.  They left Maranatha and signed with Light Music where they made a number of albums including Breakin’ the Ice which featured Breakin’ the Ice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ4cddT0Eh0&p=20C05334BBE82D2F&playnext=1&index=1, Good Felling http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJWwcRYT1p4 and Got to Believe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3x7Myegr24 Other later albums featured songs like Ride the Tide http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8oSc7jY288&feature=related

The interesting thing was that many Christians had a hard time with both Daniel Amos and the Sweet Comfort Band.  The members of SBC were frequently berated for their jazz, rock, funk style by Christians who felt that the style was “of the Devil” and both groups frequently played for free on places like the Sunset Strip because they felt it was more important to play for non-believers than believers. Wow, imagine that? When one looks at much of what is called “Contemporary Christian Music” now these groups stand in stark contrast. They were not playing for the approval and entertainment of Christians.

Other artists emerged outside of Calvary Chapel, some who had been successful in their own right prior to becoming Christians such as Barry McGuire who had been with Credence Clearwater Revival, had been in the musical Hair and had his own hit Eve of Destruction for which he is best known.  McGuire’s music is harder to find online and much of what is now available comes from a series of concerts with Peter York, Phil Keaggy, Terry Talbot and others on the music of the 1960s.  However Eve of Destruction http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntLsElbW9Xo and his post conversion song Calling me Home http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxoRzqZnP98&feature=related make for interesting listening. Barry still tours and is still entertaining. I remember seeing him a number of times in Sacramento in the late 1970s at a church called The Warehouse.


McGuire recorded on the Sparrow label founded by Buck Herring.  The label also featured the long lived Second Chapter of Acts who performed such memorable songs as Mansion Builder http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmxcotW-O0w and the Easter Song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gggPpVtEKQ&feature=related,

and Keith Green the Jewish convert to Christianity who wrote Make my Life a Prayer to You http://vodpod.com/watch/2188390-keith-green-make-my-life-a-prayer-to-you-subtitles He’ll take Care of the Rest http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAe0q21YgTQ&feature=related, The Victor http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wil0PBylyW0&feature=related and When I Hear the Praises Start http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIgVU_5FsqA&feature=related. Green would produce many songs that have endured among his fans and those that wound never see him in person.  Green had a hard edge to his message and died in a private plane crash with two of his children in the summer of 1982.  His wife Melody carries on his musical legacy.

Another artist on the label was John Michale Talbot who along with his brother Terry had been founding members of the group Mason Proffit before becoming Christians.  John Michael produced two albums on the label before his conversion to Roman Catholicism where he became a lay Franciscan.  He remained on the label for years producing albums which helped introduce a generation of contemporary Christian listeners to the liturgy and Catholic spirituality.  His album The Lord’s Supper was a breakthrough as he adapted music from the Mass into a beautiful album.  His adaptation of the Apostle’s Creed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxACNt-QRAo was amazing in its musical style and difficulty and his Holy is His Name http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aYecuDlDYM is an enduring classic.  Talbot’s brother Terry also recorded on Sparrow one song which is entitled No Longer Alone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR0KBRO-e7g

Other artists included Larry Norman who might be considered the first Christian rocker and Randy Stonehill who recorded on Norman’s Solid Rock label. Norman is best known for his songs The Rock that Doesn’t Roll http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzB638GRfJ0&feature=PlayList&p=44A2023098B233CF&index=0&playnext=1 I’d Wish we’d All Been Ready http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1FcTKNXlO0 and Why Should the Devil Have all the Good Music? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWh8-FPelHU&feature=related

His friend Randy Stonehill wrote songs like King of Hearts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1Q0RO3yi8Y&feature=related, First Prayer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmhsY7NeFhM&feature=related Keep me Running http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP2dB208ISI&feature=related and Song for Sarah. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crDIHKaMwyA&feature=related Norman died in 2008 after a long illness and Stonehill has continued to produce often touching on topics that other Christian artists fear to tackle.

Guitarist Phil Keaggy has had a long and illustrious career in both Christian and secular music with his song Your Love Broke Through being among my favorites. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wil0PBylyW0&feature=related

Paul Clark and Liberation Suite brought an English twist to the genre, this song Make a Joyful Noise was taped during their 1976 European tour http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYfa4iQg8e4 while the Pat Terry Group produced You’d be There http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWMBV0WoTeI&feature=related and Don Francisco recorded the classic He’s Alive! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2slLdaK5Wg&feature=related Amy Grant produced many albums beginning in the late 1970s and still remains popular. Song’s like My Father’s Eyes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmOEJXNtF0E and El Shaddai http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYcEHguYwtc&feature=related remain hits to this day.  Likewise Evie Tourquist (Karlsson) was incredibly popular, especially with young Christian guys in the mid to late 1970s and the song Pass it On http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHQLRm_O9mU was a staple of many high school groups.

Other groups have passed into obscurity with their albums nearly impossible to find.  The early “Jesus Music” often produced in primitive studios was certainly sincere it varied in quality as well as theological content. At the same time the early artists pioneered new ways of expressing their faith in music which has influenced the music of churches that in the 1970s considered such music to still be “the Devil’s music.”  I could go on to write about other artists but most of those came later and really don’t fall into the early years that I am trying to limit this musical essay to, but the fact is that these artists as well as others changed Christian music.  The impact has been mixed while there is much positive in the music many Christians and churches threw out their musical and theological heritage in the rush to become more relevant. Likewise the absorption of Christian music labels into secular labels which were later acquired by multinational entertainment groups is not necessarily a good thing because those corporations are totally profit driven and undoubtedly influenced the content, theology and style of the music produced by current artists causing some of the older artists to become independents.

Padre Steve and Judy back in the Day

I guess in the long run we will see the fruit of this movement, the good and the bad and hopefully the good will outweigh the bad and maybe, just maybe the music will again be the music of the church and not merely of publishing houses that sell a product to churches.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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