In memory of the 21:
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.
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.
We’re barely out of the first week of 2015, and already music legends are leaving us one after the other. First, it was Little Jimmy Dickens in country music. Next, Andrae Crouch just last week, about whom I was going to post this morning until Lari Goss passed away two days ago. Now my recent reflections on life and the passage of time are, eerily, doubly appropriate.
Lari Goss had a hand in a lot of the work that has formed my appreciation of southern gospel music. His involved orchestrations may not be every classical music purist’s cup of tea, but I’ve always taken the Monty Python approach: I may not know much about art, but I know what I like. And I know that Lari Goss’s orchestrations have made already great songs stick in my memory, no doubt many without my knowing it. His talents as an acappella producer should also be recognized. We have him to thank for the outstanding work of the Martins, among others.
While recognizing that this playlist barely scratches the surface, I present a few songs I’ve loved in no small part because of the Lari Goss touch. He will be missed. Feel free to name any other favorites that I forgot. I realize, for example, that I could have included the Martins’ entire A Cappella Collection, or practically the Cathedrals’ entire Symphony of Praise album. Though I resolutely refuse to add “Champion of Love,” because I hate, hate that song, through no fault of Lari Goss’s production.
I got all my finals out of the way in one fell swoop this week (graph theory in the [early] morning, advanced calculus at noon, advanced linear algebra in the afternoon, yeah baby), and it sure feels good! Here are a few inspiring tunes that got me through this trying time. They’ve spoken to my heart. May they speak to yours.
The Morning Of
“Don’t Stop,” Fleetwood Mac
One Down, Two to Go
“Stayin’ Alive,” the Bee Gees
Oh yes, I did so do an epic walk between buildings to this one. Thanks Mom.
“Sanity’s Side,” Little River Band
(But seriously now folks, this one is a GREAT tune. File under “most underrated pop gems ever.”):
“Roll With the Changes,” REO Speedwagon
“Gentlemen, shall we attempt this one?”
*Note: Studio track mixed with crowd roars. Still awesome.
He is risen. He is risen indeed.
Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him that taketh away the sins of the world.
For in the night in which he was betrayed, he took bread. And when he had given thanks, he brake it and gave it to his disciples saying “Take, eat. This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Text: James Montgomery
Tune: Richard Redhead
1 Go to dark Gethsemane,
Ye that feel the tempter’s pow’r;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from His griefs away;
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.
2 Follow to the judgment hall;
View the Lord of life arraigned;
O the worm-wood and the gall!
O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suff’ring, shame, or loss;
Learn of Him to bear the cross.
3 Calv’ry’s mournful mountain climb
There adoring at His feet,
Mark the miracle of time,
God’s own sacrifice complete:
“It is finished!” Hear him cry;
Learn of Jesus Christ to die.
This live performance of “Life’s Railway to Heaven” features Steven AND his father and brother. Anyone agree with me that they sound and look (with the exception of clean-cut Steven himself) like the second coming of the Oak Ridge Boys? Herb Jr. in particular is quite a ham. This live rendition is even better than their studio cut, in my opinion.
[Note: Should have put this in the first draft of the post, but do check out Steven’s Deep Roots project, from which this arrangement comes! Available in mp3 form from Amazon and iTunes, physical from Cracker Barrel.]