Category Archives: Great Music

From the Vault: The Booth Brothers, “Buy Me a Rose”

This latest upload from the Booth Brothers’ Live in Lakeland project is a one-off, completely unplugged cover of the Kenny Rogers hit “Buy Me a Rose,” penned by Jim Funk and Erik Hickenlooper (boy, what a mouthful!) You’ll notice the run-time on this one is a bit longer than usual, and that’s because I’ve included Michael’s moving words at the end on marriage and divorce. In an incredibly sweet moment, he walks down into the audience at the end of the song to present his wife Vicki with a rose, then they stand together while he offers some reflections.

Since this concert, Michael has opened up more about his wife’s difficult childhood past and how they’ve sought counseling at various points in their marriage. But even here, he’s honest about their struggles. “We found out it was more than 50/50. It’s 100% without really expecting much in return. And that’s when things really seem to work out the best.” Sadly, Christian couples and even southern gospel couples aren’t always spared the pain of divorce, and Michael specifically recognizes that. In a room that size, he says there are bound to be couples who are hurting. At the same time, he expresses his conviction that when both parties in the marriage are committed to Christ and each other, it will be able to weather the storm. The tragedy is that so often it is only one spouse or the other who actually wants to keep on trying. (I confess that I have less sympathy for so-called “mutual divorces,” where the husband and wife jointly throw in the towel).

This performance is yet another home run for the group and one I vote they resurrect in concert as long as Ronnie is lugging around that guitar of his. I don’t throw away compliments, and I can confidently say this version blows the original out of the water. Vocally, I don’t think I’ve heard Michael better, both technically and emotionally. Kudos to Ronnie and Jim for their spot-on BGVs too.


Filed under From the Vault, Great Music, Singers, Videos

From the Vault: The Booth Brothers, “Home Where I Belong”

It gives me great pleasure to brighten Youtube with the (in my opinion) definitive cover of this B. J. Thomas classic. The Brothers don’t seem to have a studio recording of it, which is interesting since they obviously cut a studio track for themselves to use on this performance.

This arrangement hews fairly closely to the Gaither Vocal Band’s interpretation, but the Booths’ harmonies are just unbeatable on this. I would also rate it as one of Ronnie Booth’s best lead vocals. I’ve often thought that in a different era, Ronnie could have had a great solo career in country music. Truly one of the most naturally gifted vocalists I’ve ever heard.

I’m not sure who the gentleman in freeze frame is at around 2:43 (presumably an acquaintance of the group who had passed).

If you’ve enjoyed this, keep coming back for more gems from the vault!


Filed under From the Vault, Great Music, Singers, Videos

Nearer, My God, To Thee

The other day we had friends over to our house to sing hymns together, and someone requested this hymn. Someone else pointed out that we were coming up on the anniversary of  the Titanic sinking (April 15), and that the ship’s string quartet played the hymn while they went down. While there are a couple of contradictory accounts, we do know that  a number of survivors reported this. From Wikipedia:

George Orrell, the bandmaster of the rescue ship, RMS Carpathia, who spoke with survivors, related: “The ship’s band in any emergency is expected to play to calm the passengers. After the Titanic struck the iceberg the band began to play bright music, dance music, comic songs – anything that would prevent the passengers from becoming panic-stricken… various awe-stricken passengers began to think of the death that faced them and asked the bandmaster to play hymns. The one which appealed to all was “Nearer My God to Thee.”

I’m not a fan of James Cameron’s (in)famous film adaptation of the tragedy, but this is one scene he got right:

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Filed under Great Music, History

Youtube Find: Vintage Cathedrals Music

Some of us don’t have the space to amass a vinyl collection or the vinyl players to enjoy it on, but we still love vintage music. The other day, I found a goldmine of Cathedrals music on Youtube, including albums from the 60s/70s/80s that you still can’t purchase digitally. The music has been digitized from the user’s collection, and while the quality varies from record to record, it’s better than a through-the-air recording like some other vintage Cats uploads. The user hasn’t gathered most of them into playlists, but if you go to his channel and click “See more” enough times, from a certain point on it’s nothing but vintage Cathedrals records. Better yet, here’s a link to all the songs at once, generated by searching “Cathedrals” on the channel, though this doesn’t group songs from the same album all together. Also, it appears that the videos for Climbing Higher and Higher were accidentally uploaded with no sound. Otherwise, full albums all told include:

With Brass, 1966

Focus on Glen Payne, 1968 (full playlist here)

Welcome to Our World, 1972 (full playlist here)

You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet, 1979

Featuring George Younce, 1983

Individually, 1983

Voices in Praise Acappella, 1984

The Prestigious Cathedral Quartet, 1984

An Old Convention Song, 1985

Worship His Glory in Acappella Praise, 1993

Some of Their Finest Moments, 1994 (best-of collection, middling quality)

Radio Days, 1996

Acapella Favorites, 2000 (best-of collection)


I haven’t even scratched the surface of it all yet, but one album I do have in my collection already that’s uploaded here in excellent quality is 1984’s Prestigious Cathedral Quartet. Recorded with tenor Danny Funderburk, baritone Mark Trammell, and pianist Roger Bennett, this album featured a few of the Cathedrals’ signature songs and a few forgotten gems. It includes one of my absolute favorite Cathedrals songs ever, which to my knowledge has never been recorded by anyone else. It should be. It’s called “Next Time We Meet,” and it’s absolutely haunting. Somebody please bring this one back. Thank you:

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Passion Week Playlist #2: Songs For a Groaning Creation

Tonight I rose up with the moon, and looking down from high above,
I saw a world carved and confused into valleys deep in need of love.
And falling down, all thick with grace, Heaven’s cloud of mystery
Was filling every empty space, down to the depth of human need.

— Bebo Norman, “Deeper Still”


In previous years, I’ve posted a hymn or classical piece per day to commemorate Passion week. This year, I decided to do something a little different. So yesterday, I put together a few contemporary songs that, intentionally or not, throw our world’s need for a Savior into sharp relief. In the spirit of my “Questions & Answers” series, I’m sharing six more songs that have been arranged to complement yesterday’s playlist from an explicitly Christian perspective. (Hopefully this will make you do a double take on some of those lyrics!) If you are a Christian and a music fan, I encourage you to try this as an exercise for yourself. It’s good for your musical appreciation and your spiritual health.

The usual suspects are here: Rich Mullins, Steven Curtis Chapman, and a couple of younger upstarts like Audrey Assad and Bebo Norman, whose great lyric for “Deeper Still” is quoted above. I’m particularly moved by how Steven Curtis Chapman’s heart-wrenchingly hopeful song “February 20th” complements Phil Collins’s “Since I Lost You.” (Note that February 20th is not the day Chapman’s daughter died, but the day she accepted Christ. She would die later that same year.)

I am hoping and planning to share more thoughts on some of these, but for now, just be still and enjoy them. And have a blessed Easter.


Filed under Great Music, Songs

Passion Week Playlist #1: Songs Of a Groaning Creation

Whiskey and gun

What do a damaged Vietnam veteran, a heartbroken father, and a motherless child all have in common? All of their stories have been told in song form, and all of them are true. And there are thousands more just like them.

Most people listen to music because it makes them feel good, and I am certainly no exception. We are naturally drawn to music with lyrics that will uplift and encourage us. That’s why we all come back to the grand old hymns and gospel songs about heaven. (What a day that will be! Oh what shouting on that hallelujah morning!)

But sometimes, I need to hear what a groaning creation sounds like. Because it’s the reason Jesus had to die.

How do you respond to a lyric like this, written for the death of a child?

It’s all too easy to take so much for granted

But it’s oh, so hard to find the words to say

Like a castle in the sand the water takes away

Now how can life ever be the same?

Cause my heart is broken in pieces

Since I lost you.

Or this, for the death of a mother?

Some trains, they leave in the morning.

Some leave in the afternoon.

Some trains, they leave here right on time.

Some, they just leave too soon.

One thing is certain—cliches and platitudes will never do.

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Filed under Great Music, Theological Ramblings

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Have some Irish music.

Well, I was going to publish a CD review today, but it didn’t happen. So on this Saint Paddy’s Day, enjoy this fine live performance of a love letter to Dublin: “Rare Auld Times.” Brian Dunphy of the High Kings dedicates it to his father, who had passed away recently at the time of this recording. It’s a stellar vocal, and I love the way they just strum away with abandon on the guitar and banjo sorry, not a banjo as I’m looking more closely at it. Stringed something-something. Anyway, this is the kind of spirited, rough-hewn music-making I love. I love the guy in blue just grinning and leaning back behind them in the background like, “Yep. Way to do it!”

Ring a ring a rosy

As the light declines

I remember Dublin City

In the rare auld times…

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Filed under Great Music, Holidays

In Chains For a Higher Call

In memory of the 21:



Filed under Great Music

My Top 5 Underrated Love Songs

You’ve danced with your spouse to Steven Curtis Chapman’s “I Will Be Here.” You’ve sniffled and reached for the tissues at “Bless the Broken Road.”  You’ve sworn to throw random objects at the radio if they spin “I Will Always Love You” one more time. Now Valentine’s Day has rolled around once more, and you’re in the perfect mood to enjoy a romantic musical something. Or maybe not. Either way, I would like to shine a spotlight on five songs that you won’t see on most any Top 100 lists when people rank their favorite ditties about “luuuv.” In fact, I guarantee that half if not all of them will be new to you. Further, I guarantee that they are much deeper and more thought-provoking than what often passes for a love song in today’s cultural milieu. Think of it as my heart-shaped candy gift box to you, dear readers. Go on. Open it up and savor my Top Five Underrated Love Songs.

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Filed under Great Music, Songs, Top 5

My Definitive Andrae Crouch Mix

Here’s the post I was going to publish this Monday, before the death of Lari Goss shoved it down in urgency.

Last week, the great gospel music legend Andrae Crouch went on to his reward. Overcoming the handicap of severe dyslexia, Crouch wrote many classic songs and also became a sought-after arranger/producer across genres. Perhaps his best-loved song is “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” which he wrote in a white heat of inspiration at the age of 14. Few of us can hope to write one great song in our lives. Practically none of us can claim to have written our greatest before finishing high school. I was fortunate to stumble across this great home video of Crouch sharing with an old friend a little bit about how the song was written. It was taken a few years ago when his voice had already been ravaged by various illnesses, so you might have to prick your ears up to catch what he’s saying:

I greatly enjoyed spending some time with the music of Andrae Crouch over the last weekend, and I thought it only fitting to make a little playlist of some of my favorite versions of some of his best songs. From Andrae himself to Selah, to the Jessy Dixon Singers, to Gordon Mote, to Kim Collingsworth, to Cece Winans, these artists give some definitive renditions.

Another version of “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” that I also love is this one, from a Gaither Homecoming. Cece Winans is featured again. I think Selah is still my favorite, but this version had both me and Andrae wondering who was cutting onions in the room.


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Filed under Great Music, Songs, Videos