June 3, 2002 was when I made my second trip out to Hawaii – the first to visit Christine. It was during that trip that we shared our first kiss and became an “official” couple. Consequently, this mix always feels like it’s spilling over with anticipation and giddy feelings whenever I listen to it.
In with the New:
Jeff Deyo (as a solo artist – appears previously with SonicFlood)
David Crowder Band
Out with the Old:
It Was Worth a Try:
Listen on Spotify:
This picture was taken near the ski lodge on Mt. Baldy. One of the hiking group excursions in May 2002 took us up the steep lower trail from Manaker Flats, and we had to turn back a mile in after someone in our party got altitude sickness. Mark got the bright idea to take the ski lift up to catch the “easy group” that had gone that way earlier, and to “banzai” our way up the steep ski slope, which I tried to take way too quickly, and I started to get altitude sickness as a result. It was a real pain to walk back down the slope after that, which should be a good indicator of how steep it was. Then I realized that I’d leftmy camrea behind, and I had to go back for it! That was grueling. Nevertheless, the short section of the trail that I did traverse was lovely, and it’s one of those hikes that I’d like to go back and conquer someday.
Where in the world is this?
1) “The Middle”, Jimmy Eat World (Bleed American, 2001)
This song was near-ubiquitous in the spring of 2002. Three chords, catchy as hell, and definitely a bit mushy and encouraging, while still possessing musical muscle thanks to that guitar solo. Old JEW fans seemed to hate it, but I thought it was awesome, and it’s still one of my favorite songs by them.
2) “Get This Party Started”, Toby Mac (Momentum, 2001)
This one was an eleventh-hour addition because I wasn’t satisfied going directly from “The Middle” into “I’ll See You”. I needed something upbeat and aggressive to keep the flow going, and I found myself putting on Toby Mac a lot when I just wanted something to crank up loud in the car, so this intro track from his first solo album seemed like a good fit. I had to cut out the intro where Toby’s Macintosh computer talks to keep the music flowing properly – I hate to edit cool stuff out of a track like that, but it didn’t make sense to say “Toby Mac – Momentum – Begin Sequence” on a mix CD anyway.
3) “I’ll See You”, Pax217 (Engage, 2002)
The outro “whoosh” from the Toby Mac song worked perfectly as it suddenly cut into this song’s scratchy but happy guitar riff. This song put a big old smile on my face from the very first time I heard it – it was pretty much my favorite song to come out in 2002. I hadn’t been a huge fan of the band before, but Engage just blew me away, because it was so defiantly emotionally upbeat – a nice counterpoint to some of the angstier rap/rock acts I had gotten into like Linkin Park and P.O.D. I immediately identified with the song’s determination to find peace amidst frustration – as the rap verse said, “Like a Psalmist, I’m asking You to calm this storm that continues to persist and make me a mess. In all my stress, I repent for the lack of content. Show me You!”
4) “Nice to Know You”, Incubus (Morning View, 2001)
I couldn’t put Morning View down that summer. I was caught off guard by how optimistic these guys suddenly were. This offbeat single that started the album summed up my tentative feelings about Christine as she and I got to know each other better – she had a worldview that couldn’t help but influence me and help me to stop being so small-minded and short-sighted. “Blessed she who clearly sees the wood for the trees. To obtain a bird’s eye is to turn a blizzard to a breeze.”
5) “Beautiful”, The Echoing Green (Music from the Ocean Picture, 2001)
A shamelessly 80’s-inspired synthpop song that kind of continues the theme of “Nice to Know You” – it celebrates a woman with a wise view of the world and admits wanting to be like her. Christine wanted to dive in with full optimism and not let worry kill our chance at a relationship. I was the sad sack who was scared of getting hurt again, but it was only once she and I met that a lot of the pain I had been through started to make sense to me – indeed, to even seem beautiful because of the better person I had become for learning those hard lessons.
6) “21 Things I Want in a Lover”, Alanis Morissette (Under Rug Swept, 2002)
I had strongly disliked Alanis during my last relationship – Sharon was a big fan, and I kind of felt threatened by (what I thought was) the woman’s constant overanalysis of insecure men. As it turns out, she just overanalyzes everything. It was when her third album (OK, fifth if you remember her brief teenybopper career in Canada) came out that I got curious and decided to examine Alanis on her own terms and not expect that every song would be about being screwed over by men. Turns out she started off her album with a rockin’ love song of sorts – a wish list that was definitely unique to her, one that would perhaps seem too picky to most of the outside world. My understanding of what it meant to be “picky” was changing. I didn’t want to get into a relationship just to have a little fun and go our separate ways; I was in it for the long haul, and because of that, I felt a certain freedom in being choosy, and learning to love the quirky things I wanted in a girl – things that I couldn’t compromise, while still being willing to compromise on the less important, negotiable items. Nobody’s ever going to perfectly fit your wish list, after all. My favorite line in this song was, “I’m in no rush ’cause I like being solo.” I had learned to enjoy being on my own, and as exciting as it was to have the chance to be in a relationship with Christine, I was going to respect her by not making that choice unless I could tell her she was the one I really wanted and mean it. I wanted to be sure she could have that same confidence about me, too, and not just accept me because I was the guy who currently happened to be paying attention to her.
7) “You Set Me Free”, Michelle Branch (The Spirit Room, 2001)
Pure, unadulterated, happy teenage love song. Its tempo fit perfectly after the abrupt ending of “21 Things”, and I was definitely feeling a sense of freedom that I had never known before as Christine and I started our relationship, even though that “fear of commitment” within me had previously worried that getting into another relationship so soon would make me feel trapped instead of free.
8) “Fall to Fly”, Corrinne May (Corrinne May, 2001)
I really love the way that this mix seems to not miss a beat at all from track 4 all the way through this one – that’s the fun of stringing together a bunch of songs with sudden endings. This one’s a mellower song – one of Corrinne’s few guitar-based songs from her first album. I’d have to say it’s probably the most intellectually satisfying of any song she’s written, while also being a sentimental favorite. It took me a few tries to get the metaphor here, where she keenly matches up the idea with falling in love with literally falling – succumbing to gravity and then opening up your winds and finding out that aerodynamics actually do work, despite how scared you were to take that leap. As my trip to Hawaii in early June drew closer (Christine was very clear that I couldn’t wait around forever, and I was going to have to come see her eventually if this relationship was ever gonna get off the ground), I found myself not wanting to hedge my bets and put off the decision any longer. I had to accept that there was no way to eradicate all signs of risk. Falling in love is inherently risky, but it’s the willingness to let it happen, fully acknowledging that you might end up really getting hurt in the long run, that I think shows the other person you care about them enough to actually risk that.
9) “Waiting for the Summer”, Delirious? (Audio: Lessonover?, 2001)
This cheery song with its “la la la” background vocals really rubbed me the wrong way when I first heard it during the summer of 2001. It finally made it to one of my mixes almost a year later, when my heart was finally in a place to totally enjoy a fun, simple summer song like this one that was very unusual for the band. It was a song of anticipation – I literally had to wait for the summer (OK, early June is technically still spring, but close enough) for my chance to be reunited with Christine. I sent her the lyrics to this song over Email at one point just to give her a reminder that I was going to visit, and it was going to be worth waiting for, and it was going to kick off the best summer of our lives. Now I was finally growing more confident about that.
10) “Cornelius”, Newsboys (Thrive, 2002)
Alright, I’ll admit it – this corny song about a centurion was my favorite song on the new Newsboys album for a while. I was so happy about the return of Steve Taylor to the band’s songwriting department that I could forgive the weird pronunciation of “Cor – ne – li -us” in the chorus, and the lame attempts to rhyme his name, because Steve Taylor came up with witty lines like “History proves the axiom, surface skimmers choke on scum”, and the crazy thing was that it was still a fairly accurate description of the difference between a deep faith and a shallow one.
11) “Divine Design”, Steve (Falling Down, 2001)
This song’s mostly here because it’s fun and danceable – but it also brings back amusing memories of a video stream I watched, featuring this band’s performance at the Flevo Festival in the Netherlands. It was a funny reminder to me that what’s offensive to some Americans (especially Christians) might just be a normal, everyday word in other cultures – this British worship band repeatedly told the crowd during this song to “shake your asses”. Shoot, Delirious? barely even got away with saying “she’s as pretty as hell”. The Dutch apparently aren’t as easily offended.
12) “Happiness”, The Normals (A Place Where You Belong, 2002)
This song is a single man’s stream of consciousness, expressing a somewhat frustrated view of a world that advertises sex and romance at every turn, and screams at you that something’s wrong with you if you’re alone. What is happiness, really? Is it necessary to be in a relationship in order to find it? Though I was about to get into one, I still refused to believe that. I was doing the opposite this time – I was happy with myself, for the most part, and it was because of this that I felt whole enough to enter into a relationship. Good old Andy Osenga – he really told it like it was when it came to the subject of love and loneliness on his old band’s final album. He kind of became my new Derek Webb for a while. (I say this with intentional irony, as he would end up taking Derek’s place in Caedmon’s Call the following year.)
13) “Scarlet”, Jars of Clay (The Eleventh Hour, 2002)
This song immediately struck me with its reference to The Scarlet Letter and its assuring words given to a person who feels like they have done something so shameful that they no longer deserved to be loved. I felt like I was wearing one of those scarlet letters – a secret that, once it got out, would be guaranteed to ruin any future relationship that I got into. I confessed my sordid past to Christine very soon after we first met, because I just didn’t want worries about how she might respond to that news to drag on forever and ever. She was a bit surprised that I told her so much personal stuff so soon, but she was very forgiving about it. It wasn’t something that she held against me at all. And that made me overjoyed, to know that I hadn’t been rendered unlovable and worthless by my past sins. I knew I wanted things to progress differently this time, which is why I was so cautious with her and I had held off from kissing her the first time she had asked, back in March. The first day I saw her in Hawaii in June, though, she asked again. And I was ready to commit at that point, so I asked her, “Are you sure?” She said yes. And we exchanged a few kisses, sitting there under a tree in West Shoreline Park, overlooking part of Pearl Harbor. “So let down your hair, let our kiss make fools of them all.”
14) “I Give You My Heart”, Jeff Deyo (Saturate, 2002)
I’m not sure why I was so into this goofy attempt at pepping up a rather simple worship song, complete with “Doo doo doo”s just like SonicFlood’s classic version of “In the Secret”. I was mad at the band that still carried the name SonicFlood for sounding so wimpy and putting out such a horrible album, so I think part of me wanted to root for Jeff Deyo because of that, and see him as the guy who was really carrying the SonicFlood torch. The truth of the matter is that all parties involved were worse off apart than they were together in the original incarnation of the band.
15) “One Last Breath”, Creed (Weathered, 2001)
Breathing is something I’ve taken for granted for most of my life. But when you suddenly feel like you can’t get enough air, you come to appreciate a basic anatomical function that you previously never had to think about. Trying to hike up Mt. Baldy with Mark and the rest of the group in May – definitely biting off more than I can chew – gave me my first bout with altitude sickness. I’ve never had it since then, but I know enough now to take it easy in high altitudes. It was horrible. I just felt like I couldn’t completely fill my lungs, and I wanted to throw up. After a bit of a rest and a slow descent back down the slope, I was feeling fine, but that experience changed me. I had confronted my physical limits and been defeated, where other hikers who were far less experienced (and also weighed a lot less than me and weren’t trying to be a pack animal and carry everybody’s water) had no problem ascending that ski slope. I had to admit to myself that I was getting out of shape, and couldn’t take on such strenuous hikes without some sort of preparation. (Not to mention without a good night’s sleep.) It was a bummer, but it could have been worse.
16) “Oxygen”, Avalon (Oxygen, 2001)
I would never have thought that it would work to put a Creed song and an Avalon song together and expect them to fit both thematically and musically, but that last note left hanging (which goes into “My Sacrifice” on Creed’s album) left a perfect opportunity to fade into this song (which sweeps gently out of the end of “The Glory” on Avalon’s album), and link together two songs about breathing. Avalon sort of repurposed a love song here, giving it more of a spiritual meaning rather than a sensual one, but I think both interpretations work for me. I had come to appreciate something so basic as the air that filled my lungs, and realize that it was God who provided that and God who could take it away from me but chose not to. I had to be thankful, for I wasn’t guaranteed that next gulp of oxygen. The Mt. Baldy experience gave me a lot of appreciation for this song – now one of my favorites by Avalon, but one that I had originally overlooked. I knew Christine was an Avalon fan, so Oxygen ended up being the first CD that I bought as a gift for her, and we listened to it as we drove around Oahu, over to the windward side of the island to spend part of our day at Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens in Kaneohe. We took the Likelike Highway, which was a route I hadn’t taken before, and as we passed through the tunnel and suddenly emerged on the other side where everything was so green and lush and just kissed with the breath of life, this song was playing. So now the song, and the entire album, are associated with vivid memories of the gorgeous island that Christine came from, as well as the giddiness we felt during our first week together as a couple.
Christine showed me around the island the she called home during my week-long visit to Oahu in June, and we went to a few beaches and botanical gardens that were unforgettable. But my favorite photo from that trip was this one, a picturesque sunset that we watched from the beach in Haleiwa, on the island’s North Shore, where we sat and prayed that God would bless this relationship as it unfolded. I’d say that prayer has been answered.
Where in the world is this?
1) “Eulogy”, Five Iron Frenzy (Electric Boogaloo, 2001)
A string of “darker” songs somehow made their way onto this disc, despite the pensive sunset photo and the generally happy feelings I was experiencing at the time. In the case of this song, I just thought FIF has stated themselves so well, describing the fictional death of their band and the irony that arose from fans revering their every word when in reality, they made mistakes like anyone else. Here the band imagined themselves as being fit to have millstones placed around their necks and be dropped into the depths of the ocean, taking their cue from the Biblical admonition that it’s better to have this happen to you than to cause any of the little ones to stumble. They were weighing the importance of their role as a band who was popular with the youth, and how it was terrifyingly easy to say or do something very wrong and have those fans believe it was right.
2) “Liability”, The Juliana Theory (Music from Another Room EP, 2001)
Kind of a follow-up on the “millstone” theme, but from the other side – an angry citizen is accusing a leader of corruption and cover-ups on a massive scale. Even though this one was written pre-9/11, it pretty much hit the nail on the head regarding a lot of people’s responses to how America retaliated. The Juliana Theory could sure be an angry band, but what I loved about them was that they knew how to direct all of the angst and sneering at something meaningful.
3) “Kick Me”, Plus One (Obvious, 2002)
The infamous boy band strikes again! I had to admire them for this song – as poppy and processed as it was, I thought it was pretty cool at the time. They took the words from those stupid signs that we’d all stick on each other’s backs in grade school, and turned it into a fairly convincing song about how quickly your friends can turn on you when you’re a celebrity who gets put on a platform. It’s easy to turn around and start making accusations and casting blames as soon as a “star” does something dumb in public – but as Christians, aren’t we supposed to help people up where they fell instead of just kicking them while they’re down? Don’t fans have a responsibility for how they treat the artists, too?
4) “Less than Love”, The Normals (A Place Where You Belong, 2002)
Now we’re getting more personal again after all of the “life as a celebrity” musings of the previous songs. This playful song about failed relationships grabbed me right at the first listen. It talked about times in a guy’s youth when he was just so into a girl, but looking back, he can’t figure out what he was thinking, and he wonders how he could have been willing to give away his affection so quickly and cheaply. From the humorous awkward date as a teenager with a girl he didn’t even really like, to the all-too-familiar scenario of seeing a cute girl in a restaurant, going up to talk to her, and totally getting shot down, I could relate to what Andy Osenga was saying, and laugh about the short-sightedness of some of my past crushes. The conclusion was that “No one should settle for less than love”. That was my reason for taking my time with Christine, as much as infuriated her – I didn’t want to exchange kisses and love letters and things like that in a way that was cheap and didn’t require any thought or commitment.
5) “Get It Faster”, Jimmy Eat World (Bleed American, 2001)
This is a creepy song about wanting to do the right thing, but also feeling the temptation to just get your satisfaction the easy way. “Cheating gets it faster.” I think it’s a classic male response when trying to balance raging hormones with the fear of commitment – make empty promises, get what you want from a girl who thinks you’re gonna stick around, then disappear. I’ve never done anything like that to a girl, and I had to check my motivations before getting on that plane to Hawaii – did I want to be with Christine for the long haul, to really put my heart and soul into investigating how compatible we were with each other, or did I just want to have an exciting, flirtatious visit to an exotic place and then make up some convenient excuse to go explore other options once I returned to the mainland? I wasn’t going to let myself take that trip if I was tempted to take the sleazy way out in the end.
6) “What Is Love”, Pax217 (Engage, 2002)
This song unleashes a heavy dose of righteous anger at a woman’s abusive father. “Your eyes are evil, so look away! I’m warning you there’ll be hell to pay!” It’s one of the few times that a rap/rock or nu-metal song has actually come close to bringing tears to my eyes, because I had recently found out that a friend (NOT Christine) had an abusive parent in her past, and I felt very indignant on her behalf, knowing it would a lot of extra care and patience on the part of any future boyfriend of hers as she tried to get past those old hurts and let him in. Putting this song here, on a mix made right around the time I got into a new relationship, was my way of reminding myself that I’d better be a decent guy, or else I’d be just as angry at myself as I was at my friend’s father (or even my own father, who was verbally abusive). I’ve never been a physically abusive person, but I knew from how desperate I got in some of my arguments with Sharon that I could be very devastating with my words when I chose to be. I was determined to learn from my mistakes and never treat Christine that way.
7) “A Man”, Alanis Morissette (Under Rug Swept, 2002)
Now we move from the songs about cheating and abuse into a bit of gender reconciliation, from a surprising source – good old Alanis, who I had wrongly tagged as a man-hater in a past life. This song, in which she takes on the point of view of a man who is trying to relate honestly and openly with women, showed me that she really got it. Unspeakable sins have been committed against women by men throughout history, but to make an innocent man in this day and age pay for it is an extremely shallow-minded thing to do. Some of us guys can acknowledge the bad examples we’ve seen and vow to never be like that. Hearing a female artist trying to put herself in my shoes completely disarmed my defenses. Gender reconciliation is one of the biggest concerns on my heart, and this was like an olive branch from the other side, somebody saying, “I know you’re a decent guy, and I’m not going to treat all men like they’re pigs.”
8) “Make It Not So”, All Together Separate (Unusual, 2002)
Slow, melancholy, jazzy song about sin and procrastination. It’s the old war between who we are and who we want to be – “I’ll give my life to You… tomorrow”. This one hit me pretty hard because it didn’t end on a happy note with some vow that would be impossible to keep. It just admitted the struggle and offered it up to God for Him to handle. And God responded with a lovely little interlude of jazzy guitar and muted trumpet, as if to say, “I understand your pain, and I know you won’t be this way forever.”
9) “After the Music Fades”, Shaun Groves (Invitation to Eavesdrop, 2001)
While I thought it was a bit over-programmed on the CD, I really enjoyed the way that this simple, upbeat song of praise turned into a layered sing-along in concert, as Shaun played it with a lone acoustic guitar and managed to get the guys and girls to follow along with different parts at the end. To pull off such a sing-along without making it feel insincere or youth-groupy is definitely a difficult task. That’s where Shaun began to win a lot more of my respect.
10) “Silence”, Jars of Clay (The Eleventh Hour, 2002)
After the Music Fades, I guess there would have to be Silence, right? This was my way of tying together two Eleventh Hour Tour highlights, although Jars of Clay didn’t actually play this entire song (they opened with the chorus and then transitioned into the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”). There’s something powerfully vulnerable about a “Christian song” that simply offers up a question to God and admits to not knowing the answer, and doesn’t require the answer to show up by the end of the song. I related to this song’s sentiments of feeling deserted by God, not understanding the reason for the wilderness you’ve found yourself in, crying out for help and getting no reply, and feeling like everything you hold dear is being taken away from you. I knew enough now to be assured than not hearing or sensing God’s answer didn’t mean that there was no answer. It just meant that it would take some time (potentially even months or years) to get into a mindframe where you could finally see that there was indeed an answer, and the seeds for it had been planted there all along. Feeling like you’ve been forgotten doesn’t mean that you actually have. This is still one of my all-time favorite Jars songs, rivaling “Worlds Apart” in the “spine-tingling, convicting ballad” category.
11) “Still Listening”, Third Day (Come Together, 2001)
This song’s one of the last vestiges of Third Day’s “southern” sound. I love the slide guitar. It felt right to put it here as sort of a response to “Silence” – God’s way of saying, “Yeah, I’m still listening. I just chose to reply in a voice that you had to develop the ability to hear.”
12) “Let Me Burn”, Jeff Deyo (Saturate, 2002)
I thought this was a pretty passionate song at the time – it kind of got swept away in much the same fashion that “My Refuge” did, but now that I hear it again, it hasn’t aged as well. Jeff Deyo kind of threw together a lot of devotional phrases here and totally oversang the whole thing. I guess there are some trends that you just grow out of, but I still appreciate the attempt, and I think the music’s pretty solid here, for your standard “modern rock worship” fare circa the turn of the century, at least.
13) “Obsession”, David Crowder Band (Can You Hear Us?, 2002)
Despite how many accolades were given to the DCB when Can You Hear Us? first came out, I just tried and tried and could not get into them. It would be a good year and a half before I started to become a big fan. But sifting through their debut album, one track that really stood out to me was this excellent cover one of of Delirious?’s most passionate songs from their Cutting Edge days. This version replaced the dark, crawling bass with bright acoustic guitar, and was more softspoken in general, but it worked beautifully, and now I think it might be my favorite version of the song. I didn’t realize it at the time because I hadn’t paid as much attention to the rest of the album, but now I realize that it was pretty slick, working the chorus from “God of Wrath” into this song’s vamp.
14) “In Christ Alone”, Margaret Becker, Máire Brennan & Joanne Hogg (In Christ Alone: New Irish Hymns, 2002)
I didn’t become familiar with “In Christ Alone”, which is sort of a modern hymn that’s been around for longer then I realized, until this version on which Margaret Becker sings lead, accompanied by Enya’s sister Máire Brennan, and the lead singer of Iona, Joanne Hogg. Now there’s a vocal match made in Heaven! I immediately decided, upon hearing this and a few other tracks, that the worship album these three did together would be a perfect Mother’s Day gift – the rest of it turned out to be a bit lackluster by my standards, but I think my Mom liked it. It was also sort of a bridge between my musical tastes and Christine’s – we had both liked Margaret Becker back in the day, she was into Enya, and I had just introduced her to the beautiful music of Iona. That lengthy bagpipe outro seemed to sound appropriate nowhere else besides the very end of a CD, so that’s where this lovely rendition of an excellent worship song ended up.