Jesus Music - a personal journey


My Introduction to "Jesus Music"

In the Spring of 1973, I walked into the Berean Christian book store for the first time.  At that old building on Knoxville,  a friend introduced me to Christian music. I purchased "Light" by the Oak Ridge Boys - I think because it had a song title I recognized.  I knew nothing of Jesus music, but I steered away from the albums considered "rock."  I was pure top 40 at the time, and I figured, if it wasn't on the radio, it wasn't any good.  The Oak Ridge Boys seemed safe, but country/ southern gospel were not necessarily my style.  The album "Light" wasn't totally "southern gospel" and offered a rock/ pop song titled "It's Jesus that they Need" along side some gospel classics like "After Calvary" and "I Should Have Been Crucified." In the end, I was satisfied with the purchase, and so began my Jesus music journey. After the release of "Light," the Oak Ridge Boys left gospel music and began a successful country music career.
 

 

It Sounds Like Olivia

By 1975 I had purchased a live Speer Family LP, and a Canadian Christian folk group called Praise - i purchased Praise for the Ken Gulliksen song "Charity."  In 1976, a good friend told me about "Gentle Moments" by Evie.  I was intrigued because, in her words, "Evie sounds JUST like Olivia Newton John."  Sooo here I am, a total Top 40 guy, a devout ONJ loyalist, and a believer.  How could I go wrong?  I bought the LP, and to my surprise, Evie sounded NOTHING like Olivia Newton John, though the album had some pop sensibilities. That said, I loved the album. More "Carpenters" than ONJ, it still had solid songs that did not sound like church hymns or Southern Gospel. "Meet Me Here,"  "Part the Waters" and the campfire sing-a-long song "Pass It On" all served as a "safe" introduction to Jesus music. I was hooked!

 

ABBA with Christian Lyrics

After purchasing all three Evie albums (the first two being more traditional than pop), I had three BUY 3 GET 1 FREE coupons from Word Music. Evie had no more albums, so I entered Books By Boyd, and stared at the variety of Christian albums. Perplexed, I asked the mid-30ish woman working in the store if she could make a recommendation.  She suggested "with Footnotes" by the 2nd Chapter of Acts. I balked!  After all, I was a pure pop, Top 40 kinda guy, and from many respected Christians, I was told 2nd Chapter of Acts (and others like them), were hardcore ACID ROCK.  To her credit, the store clerk said, "I wouldn't call them acid rock.  Let me play you a song."  She put "Which Way the Wind Blows" on the store stereo, and I melted.  In 1975, I lived in Germany.  ABBA was huge in Germany, and my reaction to "Which Way the Wind Blows" was, "oh my gosh, ABBA with Christian lyrics."  I got that album for free, and purchased "In the Volume of the Book" on my next payday.  Okay, 2nd Chapter of Acts doesn't really sound like ABBA, but for me, the amazingly tight vocals and style of music was certainly more ABBA than ACID ROCK.  I also purchased "For the Bride," but balked at "How the West Was One."  With the inclusion of Phil Keaggy, I was a bit concerned. I had heard the Keaggy/ Hendrix comparison so many times, I assumed I would not like Keaggy's music.  After several weeks of debate, I finally took "How the West Was One" home.  Need I say anything about my reaction when I first heard "What a Day" on that live album?  From then on, I ignored the critics. 

 

 Super Jubilation

Ignoring the Jesus Music naysayers, I was still left with little knowledge of who, or what I should purchase.  I gambled on a Word compilation - "Super Jubilation." The album displayed an awesome cover and was filled with Jesus Music and CCM artists,  As a result of that double LP, I purchased albums by Honeytree, Nutshell, Petra, Pat Terry Group, Fireworks, Gospel Seed, Bob Ayala, Michael Omartian, Paul Clark, David Meece, Alwyn Wall Band, Amy Grant, Love In Company and Steve Camp.  From there it was the Talbot Brothers, John Michael Talbot, Terry Talbot, Daniel Amos, Sweet Comfort Band, Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Servant, Keith Green and on, and on, and on for the next 20 years.  "Super Jubilation" solidified my passion, and convinced me that "compilations' are always worth the gamble.  I took full advantage of the BUY 3 GET 1 FREE stickers (eventually BUY 4 GET 1 FREE), and padded my collection with free albums that typically became my "Take a Chance on Me" album purchases.  Many of the albums I purchased over those 20 years still serve as the soundtrack for my life - the soundtrack of a New Life in Jesus.   


 

MUSIC for a Change in Me

I cannot fully describe or explain the incredible journey Jesus Music has been for me. I feel as if I lived and experienced such a unique movement of God, as He presented the gospel to an anti-social revolution spreading across the globe - MUSIC for a Change!  But the change was not political or social - the change was in the hearts of unchurched boys like me.  Jesus Music didn't SAVE ME, but Jesus Music emboldened my faith, and challenged my thinking while renewing my mind.  For me, Jesus Music exemplifies Paul's intent when he wrote "singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts." Ephesians 5:18-19    How can anyone listen to "Asleep in the Light" by Keith Green and not be changed?  Thank you Lord Jesus!