Divad’s Soundtrack #1: April-August 1994

I figured I might as well start with the beginning, embarrassing as it may be. My interest in music was first sparked in 1994, mostly due to influence from my Mom, who wanted me to have some music relevant to my own age group to listen to rather than just borrowing her worship tapes all the time, and my youth pastor Carol Ann, who was trying to get us all into Christian music. Looking back, a lot of this early stuff is pretty cheesy – some even painfully so – but it’s all an important step in the journey to the comparably less cheesy music collection that I have today. Before this point, I had resisted modern styles of music; maybe it was a fear of what was “hip” among my peers because I didn’t want to be “worldly” like that. But if I was honest with myself, I’d hear a lot of tunes on the radio, or on episodes of the New Mickey Mouse Club (a show I was pretty obsessed with during the early 90’s) that I found to be pretty catchy. It would be a while before I finally allowed myself to admit I liked any mainstream music, but Christian pop and rock seemed like a safe enough place to start. And with that, here’s the first installment. (You can click on the thumbnail images of the covers I designed to see them full-size.)

I figured I might as well start with the beginning, embarrassing as it may be. My interest in music was first sparked in 1994, mostly due to influence from my Mom, who wanted me to have some music relevant to my own age group to listen to rather than just borrowing her worship tapes all the time, and my youth pastor Carol Ann, who was trying to get us all into Christian music. Looking back, a lot of this early stuff is pretty cheesy – some even painfully so – but it’s all an important step in the journey to the comparably less cheesy music collection that I have today. Before this point, I had resisted modern styles of music; maybe it was a fear of what was “hip” among my peers because I didn’t want to be “worldly” like that. But if I was honest with myself, I’d hear a lot of tunes on the radio, or on episodes of the New Mickey Mouse Club (a show I was pretty obsessed with during the early 90’s) that I found to be pretty catchy. It would be a while before I finally allowed myself to admit I liked any mainstream music, but Christian pop and rock seemed like a safe enough place to start. And with that, here’s the first installment. (You can click on the thumbnail images of the covers I designed to see them full-size.)

In with the New:
East to West
Billy Sprague
Out of the Grey
Dakoda Motor Co.
Geoff Moore & the Distance
dc Talk
Pam Thum
DeGarmo & Key
Michael Sweet
Michael W. Smith
Susan Ashton
Point of Grace
Tamplin
4Him

It Was Worth a Try:
Angelo & Veronica
Al Denson
Straight Company
Dallas Holm

Listen on Spotify:


divads-soundtrack-01aDISC ONE

The photo for disc one was taken on “Christmas Tree Lane”, which is a stretch of Santa Rosa Avenue in Altadena, California where the tall trees are decorated with Christmas lights every year. I used to ride my bike all over Altadena while I was in high school, while listening to music such as what is found on this CD on my walkman, and this was one of the more scenic streets I explored.
Where in the world is this?

1993_EasttoWest_EasttoWest1) “Prince of Peace”, East to West (East to West, 1993)
East to West was the first group I heard on a sampler tape that my youth pastor gave me, and their album was the first one I ever bought for myself with my own money. This was my favorite song on the album, and I remember being very excited to see these guys play live at Summer Praise ’94 – a summer festival held at the Burbank Equestrian Center. Incidentally, Jay DeMarcus from this duo is now a member of Rascal Flatts.

1993_BillySprague_TheWindandtheWave2) “Press On”, Billy Sprague (The Wind & the Wave, 1993)

This catchy song with its iconic harmonica intro was a favorite among the kids in my youth group – it appeared both on the Benson Records sample and the Release Magazine sampler that our youth pastor had passed out to us. Too bad Billy never recorded another solo album after this one – I liked his eclectic, imaginative style.

1991_OutoftheGrey_OutoftheGrey3) “Wishes”, Out of the Grey (Out of the Grey, 1991)

Out of the Grey’s first album was one of the first tapes that my youth pastor, Carol Ann, loaned to me from her personal collection, and I fell in love with it pretty much immediately. I still think it’s one of the finest pure pop albums I’ve ever heard. I was enchanted at the time by the idea of a husband and wife making Christian music together – I had never heard Christian songs devoted to the subject of young love before. I still think is their best song – it’s youthful and innocent in one sense, because it talks about a girl having a crush on a guy, but it also shows maturity because she knows that her wish for him to become a Christian and see her “on the other side of Heaven’s door” is far more important.

1994_DakodaMotorCo_WelcomeRaceFans4) “Truth”, Dakoda Motor Co. (Welcome Race Fans, 1994)

I didn’t know what “alternative” meant in those days, but I was told that Dakoda was “alternative”, so I checked ’em out at the Summer Praise festival. They were fun. A friend’s dad said that they sounded like the B-52’s. They were never very subtle with their words, but I kind of liked the hippie aesthetic behind some of their music.


1993_GeoffMooretheDistance_Evolution5) “Godgottaholdonme”, Geoff Moore & the Distance (Evolution, 1993)

OK, this one’s pretty cheesy, but it was more fun musically than the silly “Evolution” song that our youth group was going to make a music video of (with me as the dorky teacher), and I loved “auto-sequence start” intro. Listening to this, it kills me that I once thought this was a solid rock song – they really produced the life out of it and the guitars are buried so far back that it’s laughable.

1992_dcTalk_FreeatLast6) “Jesus Is Just Alright”, dc Talk (Free at Last, 1992)

“If you like rap, you’ll like dc Talk.” That was what my youth pastor promised me. Too bad I knew nothing about rap. But I was interested in the style – I had heard a lot of poppy rap hits that were common in the early 90’s and figured that be something fun and different for Christian music. I took this song in to play for a music appreciation class and got soundly ridiculed for it because it sounded like “funky techno”. I didn’t even know it was a cover of a Doobie Brothers song until a few years later. I remembered being impressed with the really fast rap part in the middle – to the point where I had to memorize it so I could follow along – and I was shocked when I finally saw the music video and realized the black guy wasn’t the one doing the rap parts!

1993_AngeloVeronica_AV7) “You Loved Me When”, Angelo & Veronica (A&V, 1993)

A&V had a good beat and you could dance to ’em, and they were a married couple. My interest in their poppy brand of R&B mixed with Diane Warren-esque ballads (you think I’m kidding? She actually wrote for them!) was short-lived and I had originally left them out altogether, but I figured they deserved a spot on the soundtrack when I revised it for the CD version.


1993_PamThum_PamThum8) “Love Sees”, Pam Thum (Pam Thum, 1993)

Pam Thum’s first album, just the sound of it, was fairly classy for straight-ahead CCM girlie pop. This was another tape that Carol Ann had loaned to me; I listened to it a lot on a family road trip to Yellowstone that year and now it always brings back memories of that trip. I still think this song is pretty gorgeous with its acoustic guitar lead and violin part and all that.

1994_DeGarmoKey_ToExtremes9) “Hangin’ by a Scarlet Thread”, DeGarmo & Key (To Extremes, 1994)

D&K were probably the first rock band that I really got into. Before that it was all pure pop music and some R&B-influenced stuff. Too bad that the first two albums of theirs that I heard ended up being their last two albums! I liked To Extremes the best because it was more in-your-face and the drums were right up there (especially on this song, it’s like nothing but drums for half of the first verse), and at the time, I thought this was pretty “hard” rock.


1994_MichaelSweet_MichaelSweet10) “Someday”, Michael Sweet (Michael Sweet, 1994)

Stryper was before my time; apparently they caused a bit of controversy and Michael Sweet’s solo return to Christian music was heralded as a bit of a redemption story. I kind of liked his brand of hair-metal informed arena rock, and this emotional ballad in particular caught my attention. It’s pretty cheesy, but at the time I easily fell in love with rock ballads that had that “romantic” tone to them, likely because I thought I could someday use such a song to impress a girl.


1993_AlDenson_Reasons11) “Say It with Love”, Al Denson (Reasons, 1993)

Al Denson was major cheese, probably second only to Carman in my tape collection back in those days. Nevertheless, this song had its heart in the right place, telling us to go out and interact with the lost rather than just expecting them to show up on your church’s doorstep. He was one of the first contemporary Christian artists that I was exposed to, since my Mom had been watching some youth-oriented programming on TBN (again, trying to get me interested) and he performed frequently on Josh McDowell’s show.

1989_MichaelWSmith_i2Eye12) “Secret Ambition”, Michael W. Smith (I 2 Eye, 1989)

Michael W. Smith wasn’t one of the first artists I heard of, despite his massive popularity, but I finally heard him perform a few of his classic hits on The 700 Club. He was probably the first piano-based singer-songwriter I got into. I bought his First Decade collection at the Summer Praise festival with money that a friend and I had made helping Leon Patillo haul some equipment to his truck after a performance (I’m not kidding, he just randomly saw us and enlisted our help in exchange for some cash), and this powerful, classic song, first one on side two, ended up being my runaway favorite. I still think it’s one of the best songs he will probably ever do.

1993_SusanAshton_SusanAshton13) “Summer Solstice”, Susan Ashton (Susan Ashton, 1993)

This was the first song on that Release Magazine sampler tape. I don’t think I realized at the time that it was seven and a half minutes long – it was just a darn good song about the different seasons of faith that a person goes through. I was particularly drawn to songs that depicted a spiritual “starting over” point, since I was oen of those young Christians who was constantly “rededicating” himself. For a while, I had this tradition of listening to this song on summer solstice every year; I forgot about it for a while, but when I finally burned the CD version of this inaugural soundtrack in 2006, my first listen to the finished product was on June 21.

divads-soundtrack-01bDISC TWO

The photo for disc two is an image I found on the Internet, of buffalo grazing in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. It was the main destination on the longest road trip I’ve ever taken, with my Mom and my brother that summer. (She couldn’t find any of the pictures she took during that trip, so I had to do a little scavenging on the web for something that I vaguely remember seeing there.) Of course, road trips would be nothing without music, and a lot of these songs were found on the tapes we listened to on those long highways to Lake Tahoe, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Zion Canyon, and eventually the trip back home.
Where in the world is this?

1991_OutoftheGrey_OutoftheGrey1) “He Is Not Silent”, Out of the Grey (Out of the Grey, 1991)

Another favorite from OOTG’s first album. Man, that album is like wall-to-wall classics! I really loved the tense melody and the depiction of God’s clueless people crying for help but turning away. The cold ending was cool, too.


1993_StraightCompany_SoExcited2) “Don’t Look Back”, Straight Company (So Excited, 1993)

I had a thing for acapella groups back then. Probably because all of the girls at school fawned over that “Yesterday” song by Boyz II Men. Straight Company was fairly talented, if somewhat cheesy in the lyrics department, but they were overshadowed by Take 6, so they never really took off. I always thought this was their most fun song, though they may have cheated and used a tiny bit of programmed rhythm here.

1993_EasttoWest_EasttoWest3) “Welcome to the Next Level”, East to West (East to West, 1993)

This was the song that started it all – first song on that Benson Sampler tape, and it more or less became our youth group theme song, complete with a rather embarassing performance of it that I did during church with, uh, my first two girlfriends (it’s not what you think – the first one and I had long since forgotten about the awkward phase during which we were a couple the previous year, and the second one and I had yet to hook up; when we did, the relationship lasted all of five days). I thought this highly-programmed gimmick of a song was the coolest thing ever, which was because I had no exposure to mainstream music in the 80’s. I played it for friends and they were like, “Dude, they ripped off the Sega Genesis slogan.”

1994_Tamplin_Tamplin4) “Testify”, Tamplin (Tamplin, 1994)

Metal! That’s a style I never thought I’d get into. I first heard this song on another one of those Benson Samplers (you can tell that this is how I got into a lot of the groups who are represented during these early days), and declared that I could probably never listen to a whole album full of it, but I later changed my mind and took a chance. It was quite a bit of fun – my friends at school who listened to Slayer and that sort of thing declared that this tape would probably melt if I put it next to one of theirs, but I really liked the unabashed hair metal vocals and the shredding guitar solos. I still think the guitars on this album, and especially this song, are totally kick-ass.


1994_DakodaMotorCo_WelcomeRaceFans5) “Alive”, Dakoda Motor Co. (Welcome Race Fans, 1994)

More lyrically vapid, but upbeat fun from Dakoda, showing them in their rockier mode. I remember hearing this one on our local Christian station during their Saturday night rock show – we were advised not to drive during the blistering ending, since it would likely tempt one not to speed. (Not that that was a problem for me; I didn’t get my license until about five years later.)

1992_dcTalk_FreeatLast6) “Luv Is a Verb”, dc Talk (Free at Last, 1992)

Another catchy, funky pop-rap hybrid from early dc Talk. It’s cheesy in all of the most lovable ways possible (bottle of Dran-o and all). I still can’t figure out what that voice at the beginning is saying, but it sure sounds like “Take this mo-fo ride!” to me.


1993_DeGarmoKey_HeatItUp7) “Never Look Back”, DeGarmo & Key (Heat.It.Up., 1993)

A more sentimental song from D&K that talks about looking back at old high school yearbooks and not being discouraged over mistakes you’ve made. At the time I had a year to go in high school, so this song was kind of about looking forward to a future and hoping life would be more interesting as an adult than during my relatively sheltered teenage years. I stuck it on after “Luv Is a Verb” because it needed to transition into something immediate after the sudden ending (something similar happens on the actual D&K album). Originally I had a slow Geoff Moore song here and it didn’t work at all, so I added this as a revision for the CD version.


1994_MichaelSweet_MichaelSweet8) “All This and Heaven Too”, Michael Sweet (Michael Sweet, 1994)

Michelle, my second girlfriend, was hopelessly in love with Michael Sweet, and this was her favorite song of his. It had a good, rocking-out-while-driving-down-the-highway sort of beat to it. The two of us basically hooked up because we each found the other to be funny and enjoyable to hang out with, but it was just kind of one of those random things when we were talking on the phone the day after I got back from Summer Praise, and I was bummed about this one family leaving our church whose daughter I had a big crush on, and she Michelle was bummed about that same girl’s brother leaving, and she said something like, “If it makes you feel better, I’ll be your girlfriend”. That was fun, but we saw each other a grand total of two times before we broke up the following Saturday, out of a mutual realization that we didn’t know what the hell we were doing.


1993_BillySprague_TheWindandtheWave9) “The Blessing (of the Fleet)”, Billy Sprague (The Wind & the Wave, 1993)

This was a beautiful song about a group of believers gathering to wish a group of sailors well as they set off on a voyage across the sea. Throughout the years I’ve put it on mixes for a few friends who have gone out into the mission field.


1993_GeoffMooretheDistance_Evolution10) “That’s When I’ll Know I’m Home”, Geoff Moore & the Distance (Evolution, 1993)

The aforementioned slow song by Geoff Moore – actually my favorite track from the Evolution album, though not very representative of that album’s style. I had a thing for ballads in 3/4 time, especially when they were about longing for Heaven.


1993_PointofGrace_PointofGrace11) “One More Broken Heart”, Point of Grace (Point of Grace, 1993)

Don’t laugh, but I used to like Point of Grace. We saw them at the Summer Praise festival, and it was actually their first performance ever in California. They claimed to have “all kinds of music” on the album, which was what made me curious enough to pick it up. Needless to say, I realized it was a bit too feminine for my tastes and didn’t listen to it much. But I still do enjoy this early hit of theirs, and I was able to make a clever transition out of the ending into…

1992_4Him_TheBasicsofLife12) “Wrecking Ball”, 4Him (The Basics of Life, 1992)

…a song that starts with the sound of a beating heart, and the song really makes no sense because it talks about being Joshua and wanting to ride God’s wrecking ball. (Um, wouldn’t you get demolished too?) 4Him reigned supreme as my favorite group after I bought their Basics album. They too were set to play at Summer Praise, but there had been some technical difficulties with some equipment on stage that violated some fire code or something, so long story short, the entire schedule got pushed back, and at the end of the evening, when 4Him and Petra still had sets to do, there was only enough time for one group to go on. 4Him graciously gave up their spot for Petra, probably a wise move due to the massive number of kids who wanted to see Petra that night. I went back to my church’s campsite in disgust, as some of the other kids asked me where I was going and I loudly shouted, “I hate Petra!” I never really did get into Petra, come to think of it. I guess old habits die hard.

1993_DallasHolm_CompletelyTakenIn13) “Your Love Comes to Me”, Dallas Holm (Completely Taken In, 1993)

I’m not sure why I ever bought a Dallas Holm album. He was about as square as they came, not teen-friendly at all. Something about this particular acoustic ballad with its romantic saxophone solo got to me, I guess. My Mom was a bit surprised that I got into him – apparently he was a mainstay of inspirational music from back in the day and she knew him from, guess where, TBN.


1993_PamThum_PamThum14) “If I Were”, Pam Thum (Pam Thum, 1993)

As a teenager, I ached to know what it was like to be in love. (Despite having had two girlfriends, I never really got anywhere with either of them past just hanging out and goofing around, like I would with any other friends, except that it would the first time a girl had gone out of her way to hang out with just me.) So when this poetic song that explained how one would express love if one were a wall, storm, kiss, or prayer came along, I naturally fixated on the “kiss” verse. I wouldn’t experience my first kiss until age 20, but despite that being in the distant past now, the line “And I would live on forever in only a moment” still gets me.

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