Here’s a mix of songs from the first half of my senior year of high school. It’s a bit more varied than volume 1, I think, which is a good thing, but it makes the quality of songs rather hit-and-miss. I was trying a lot of new and different things (within the bounds of radio-friendly Christian music, of course) in those days, claiming that I liked “all kinds of music” and wanting to be able to reach out to friends whose tastes covered varying genres. That whole reaching out thing never really worked (though not for lack of trying!), but I think the boundary-stretching was important for me.
In with the New:
Steven Curtis Chapman
Rebecca St. James
Out of Eden
Out with the Old:
DeGarmo & Key
Dakoda Motor Co.
It Was Worth a Try:
Listen on Spotify:
This photo was taken along Pasadena Glen Road, a tiny street tucked away alongside a stream in the Sierra Madre Villa neighborhood in between asadena and Sierra Madre. The photo was actually taken in 2006, so it doesn’t show the damage that firestorms did to the area in 1993. I used to ride my bike up here during my junior and senior years of college.
Where in the world is this?
1) “Treasure of You”, Steven Curtis Chapman (Heaven in the Real World, 1994)
An SCC song with a rap verse… cool! Well, I thought it was cool at age 16. Actually, it’s still a fun song, but I’m really embarassed to say that I sang this song, rap verse included, in front of my church congregation. (Hey, it could be worse… it could have been “Got to B Tru”.) They weren’t terribly discriminate about what they allowed the youth group to perform in those days… I think they were just happy we wanted to participate and that the worship team had one less song to do during offering.
2) “God Is in Control”, Twila Paris (Beyond a Dream, 1994)
My friend Andrea, from youth group, loved Twila Paris and really loved this song. It turned out to be the #1 Christian radio song of the year and it also won the Dove Award for best song (that was back when I actually cared about such things). She and one or two of the other girls, I can’t remember who, sang it in its entirety one night during Sunday evening service, and of course I fell in love with the song. Man, it was like ghetto karaoke in those days… they didn’t know how to take out the vocals and we couldn’t get trax for a lot of the songs we wanted to perform, so the sound department would just turn some of the levels down and we’d have to try to sing louder than the voice on the cassette tape.
3) “Time Is…”, dc Talk (Free at Last, 1992)
Kind of a precursor to the rap/rock hybrid stuff that would eventually catapult dc Talk into the Christian rock stratosphere. I loved all of the random voices sampled for the song… I still swear that last voice that says “Whoa, wait a minute!” sounds like Geordi LaForge from Star Trek: The Next Generation, which incidentally was my favorite show back then.
5) “Endless”, Eric Champion (Vertical Reality, 1994)
Carol Ann tried to introduce us to Eric Champion as a techno-pop artist, which he was, but she played this song for me and I was like, “Aw, it’s a slow song!” and I wasn’t interested. I later changed my mind when I realized that it made for a wonderfully romantic soundscape, and the voices in the background of this and a few of his other songs were kind of trippy. Now that I’m older and I pay more attention to the instruments, I really adore the drumming and the classical guitar in this song.
6) “We Don’t Need It”, Rebecca St. James (Rebecca St. James, 1994)
I think I had a minor celebrity crush on RSJ back in the day… her first album wasn’t that good, but I was impressed that someone my age (she was half a year older than me) could have a successful singing career. (That was before the market was overrun with teenybopper singers, I guess.) I latched onto this song because of the fast, robotic delivery of the lyics… I take any and all such songs as a chellenge to memorize and sing along to the lyrics without losing my breath.
7) “Angels”, Susan Ashton, Margaret Becker & Christine Denté (Along the Road, 1994)
The trio that teamed up to make this album actually came to my home town, Pasadena, when they were on tour, and I didn’t go because I couldn’t find anyone to go with. Stupid me, I should have just gone with my Mom or something. Anyway, I bought the album with the money I would have spent on the concert, and I was immediately hooked by this track, which featured Christine Denté from Out of the Grey, already one of my favorite vocalists, singing lead against a heavenly acoustic backdrop. For mid-90’s CCM pop, this one’s pretty much flawless as far as I’m concerned.
8) “Boycott Hell”, DeGarmo & Key (The Pledge, 1989)
“We oughta boycott dumb lyrics as well.” OK, so that was the Newsboys’ opinion of this song when they covered it, but I liked the pacing and energy of the D&K original a little better. I found out later that year, or maybe early 1995, that they had broken up – too bad, they were fun.
9) “Whatever Happened to Love”, Billy Sprague (The Wind & the Wave, 1993)
This song was some sort of a weird hippie Motown hybrid or something or at least, that was how I could best think to describe it at the time), but it was a lot of fun. Great horns and great melody, very colorful.
10) “Give It Away”, Michael W. Smith (Change Your World, 1992)
I had been listening on and off to MWS’s greatest hits album; there were long slow stretches and this song in particular was one that my mind often overlooked because it was in between the better-known “I Will Be Here for You” and “Place in This World”. I think the power of it finally hit me when I saw a live video of it on TBN’s Real Videos.
11) “Early in the Morning”, David Meece (Once in a Lifetime, 1993)
Pretty odd entry here… classical, medieval-sounding instrumentation meets an 80’s dance track. Strangely enough, it worked pretty well. The chorus just exploded out of the speakers and it was like, the perfect Easter song.
12) “For Future Generations”, 4Him (The Ride, 1994)
As soon as this song hit radio waves, I knew it was the mighty 4Him, but I didn’t recognize it from the one album of theirs that I had. Welcome to the world of singles that get released before the album, to create buzz! I was so psyched for The Ride, and the local Christian bookstore didn’t get it on time, so I kept going down there and bugging them until it finally mainfested, so I could finally get this song on tape. It was #2 at the end of the year, coming in behind “God Is in Control”, which I was pretty happy about. I tried to write a parody of it the following year, about Star Trek Generations, a film which I was quite excited about seeing. I think I used a quote from this song in one of my college applications, too.
13) “Shine”, Newsboys (Going Public, 1994)
This probably remains the Newsboys’ most popular and recognizable song to this day, thanks to that highly processed guitar intro. It was all over the radio waves that year, and the amusing video which actually depicted all of the strange behavior in the song was on TBN pretty much every time they did a show dedicated to Christian music videos. Even my Mom knew what song it was within like two seconds – a feat she’s accomplished with very few of the songs from albums I’ve owned, but I do remember Jars of Clay’s “Flood” being another one.
14) “Stand Up”, Dakoda Motor Co. (Welcome Race Fans, 1994)
Another lyrically silly song from Dakoda that can’t make up its mind whether it’s talking to a demon or to Jesus… but there’s no arguing with that phat bass riff!
15) “Love Takes Time”, Bryan Duncan (Mercy, 1993)
Pretty much the whole Mercy album spoke to me, as a guy going through an awkward growing process and longing to be given the chance at a relationship. Bryan seemed to tackle relationships from an “I’m going through this as we speak” sort of way rather than a didactic, instructional way, and there’s a good reason why this was probably his best known song.
This is a picture of Pasadena High School, which is where I spent four years of my life. A lot of the music on this CD was stuff I got into during my senior year. I remember being excited about my newfound love for Christian music when I came back to start my senior year in the fall of 1994, and I tried in vain to be hip by sharing a lot of it with friends, or during my music appreciation class. That didn’t work so well. But there are still good memories in all of it for me.
Where in the world is this?
1) “Remember Not”, Susan Ashton (Susan Ashton, 1993)
Continuing with the “ghetto karaoke” theme of songs that the youth performed for the congregation at our church, Michelle sang this one for us during offering one night, and I thought it was a good song, but apparently some people were chattering about how naughty she was for singing a “secular song”. Yeah, apparently those folks were pretty closed-minded and didn’t have a clue who Susan Ashton was… such was the reality of my religious upbringing, though my own mother was thankfully a little more thoughtful on such matters.
2) “Lovely Day”, Out of Eden (Lovin’ the Day, 1994)
Early Out of Eden (heck, any era of their music) is almost too perky for me to stand these days, but shoot, they were a lot more streetwise than Point of Grace, and considering the state of Christian music in 1994, this inaugural single for Toby Mac’s Gotee Records was fairly revolutionary. I won’t lie… I saw the video and thought they were pretty cute.
3) “King of the Jungle”, Steven Curtis Chapman (Heaven in the Real World, 1994)
The other SCC song that I thought was kinda hip-hop-influenced. Or something. Anything with a programmed beat in those days, I thought it was all “urban” and stuff. Pretty silly song, but as a senior dealing with the chaos of trying to graduate and figure out what to do with the rest of my life, I could relate to the depiction of a hectic day and the need to remember that God was in control.
4) “Harmony”, Take 6 feat. Queen Latifah (Join the Band, 1994)
I guess this makes Queen Latifah the official first “secular” artist to appear on one of my mixes, and Take 6 was probably the first “mainstream crossover” group that I got into. Again, I was drawn to this song because it was fun and upbeat and had a rap part that I could try to memorize. I wasn’t really big on most of the rest of the CD – it’s only been recently that I’ve come to appreciate the vocal talent that these guys had. Never got into Queen Latifah’s music, but she has a pretty good track record with making me laugh whenever she appears in a movie (even if the rest of the movie sucks).
5) “Upon This Rock”, Newsboys (Not Ashamed, 1992)
I realized when I redid these mixes that I hadn’t put on anything from the Newsboys’ Not Ashamed, a record which I thought for a while was better than Going Public because the beats were more slammin’. (I’ve now realized it’s way more dated-sounding.) In defiance of the traditional hits from this album, I went for the song that was my personal favorite. Great backing vocals here, quirky Steve Taylor lyrics, and that beat is, er, “Unbelievable”.
6) “That Kinda Girl”, dc Talk (Free at Last, 1992)
Fun and fast rap song (rather Will Smith-esque, actually) about wanting to find the perfect “Proverbs 31” type of girl. I loved the opening verse about a guy who basically goes out on a date with a slut. OK, so dc Talk never said “slut”. Still, they weren’t known for their subtlety, as evidenced by the less memorable relationship song on the album, “I Don’t Want It”.
7) “If Ever There Was Love”, Pam Thum (Pam Thum, 1993)
Tracks 4-7 on this disc sure make for a fun ride, given how I was able to line up all of the sudden, slicing transitions from one track to the next. This one’s part hip, metallic programmed pop beat, one part cheesy girly keyboards, but Pam’s got a pretty gutsy vocal thing going on here and I feel like I didn’t get as much of that from her on later albums. This was a happy song about having finally found love, and I couldn’t resist it.
8) “Mission of Love”, Kathy Troccoli (Kathy Troccoli, 1994)
Probably one of the more famous CCM songs about being single and wanting to find somebody (are you sensing a really heavy theme here?), by an artist who was kind of a poster child for single Christian women before Rebecca St. James took over that role. (Did Kathy ever actually get married? I don’t know.) Said Kathy, “I wanna find somebody, I wanna bare my soul.” Said my goofy friend Michael, “She better bare more than that!”
9) “If You Could See What I See”, Geoff Moore & the Distance (Evolution, 1993)
Another very famous love song in CCM-land… this one was co-written with Steven Curtis Chapman after Chapman’s wife prodded Moore’s wife during a concert, about how at least Steven wrote love songs for his wife. Geoff Moore rose to the challenge, and while his supposed rock band has precious little to do here, it’s a gorgeous song, one which has taken its rightful place as a common fixture at Christian weddings. I figured this would be a good one to cap off the long list of “I want to find that special someone” songs that preceded it on the CD.
10) “How Long”, Greg Long feat. Margaret Becker (Cross My Heart, 1994)
This song had one of the first videos that made tears well up in my eyes. Cheesy as the presentation might have been, something about the way they depicted hope and basic needs being offered to the needy really stuck with me. It’s a great power ballad duet, if you ignore the aimless “doo-doo-doo”s in the bridge.
11) “The Shape of Grace”, Out of the Grey (The Shape of Grace, 1993)
3/4 time, quirky programming, and an unusual but memorable melody all conspired to make this lesser-known OOTG song my favorite track from their second album. Whenever I hear this song, I actually think of the Pomona College campus, because I was listening to the album on my walkman while on a class field trip to tour the Claremont Colleges, a school system that I really wanted to get into.
12) “I Will Remember You”, Amy Grant (Heart in Motion, 1991)
The first time I listened to Amy Grant’s Heart in Motion album, I realized that I knew half the songs already – the New Mickey Mouse Club had done videos for the first four tracks, plus this song, and I knew “Hope Set High” from the Songs from the Loft compilation. I had a few friends who had moved away earlier in the year, so this song reminded me of them and easily claimed its spot as my favorite track on a pop album which I actually still enjoy, largely due to heavy nostalgia.
13) “Goodbye Cruel World”, Whitecross (Unveiled, 1994)
My second venture into heavy metal-land – it sounds pretty weird to transition to this from Amy Grant, but thematically, it works out pretty well. Scott Wenzel’s voice could sometimes sound like a cross between Michael W. Smith and Gilbert Gottfried – pretty raspy, but on this slightly psychedelic jam track, it conveyed the emotion of losing a friend to death but holding out for the hope of seeing them in Heaven quite well.
14) “The Storm/The Anchor Holds”, Ray Boltz (Allegiance, 1994)
Ray Boltz was one of my Mom’s favorites – the “Allegiance” song in particular was one that I caught her humming around the house, and the video was another tear-jerker. But my favorite part of the album (which I stole from her from time to time) was this mini-suite about trouble at sea, with a nice little instrumental leading into one of the stronger and more worthy pure AC ballads of its time. It makes for an epic closing number, and since it didn’t close the album that it came from, it was eligible to be used as a closer here. (That was my rule – the first track from an album could never be first on any of my mixes, and the last track could never be last.)