Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Amos’

Technology is a funny thing.  It was a great week without much information technology.  I didn’t bring my laptop.  The Motel Continental did have an (intermittent) WI-FI zone in the restaurant.  But I enjoyed not having the computer.  I did have some DT’s about mid-week, and my fingers didn’t know what to do with themselves.  I only watched about 10 minutes of TV a day.  I only used my cell phone for about 10 minutes a day.  It was really nice, truth be told.  It was probably really good for me.

We Felt Like This

Saturday morning we were going to have breakfast an hour later than we had all week.  I woke up before CavNav’s phone alarm went off.  I worked on packing up a few things.  I didn’t want us to take half the morning getting ready.  The last thing I wanted was to sit in traffic crossing the border.  I was pretty much done when there was a knock on the door.  Apparently we were late for breakfast.  He set the alarm for the proper time, but apparently you have to set the day on his overly-smart phone.  No wake up call for us!

With my limited choices, for which I was endlessly ribbed at lunch today, I picked….. hot cakes.  We had a fairly subdued breakfast and started to disperse to put our bags in the van or car.  Though I was one of the last to eat, I ended up waiting on most of the team to load up. We handed in our keys and took off for the border.

The road to the crossing runs parallel to the road the hotel was on.  We caught up to the traffic and sat.  It is surreal.  You find vendors and beggars walking up and down the line. You can buy water, newspapers, food, porn and more.  Porn?  Really.  I grew up in a different generation where you didn’t sit in your car looking at porn.  We were in line for less than 30 minutes, I think.  Getting through the crossing was actually fairly simple.  All we bought were some t-shirts and stuff for my kids.  We weren’t chosen for a good inspection.


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In 1986 a new friend lent me a cassette of an album called Fearful Symmetry by a band called Daniel Amos.  I had heard nothing like it and I had been exposed to a wide variety of music.  I was a new Christian at the time.  I didn’t like it.  But I gave it a few listens.  It grew on me, like mold.

Soon Daniel Amos was my favorite band.  I never got to see them in concert, having just missed a show in Boston at the Paradise Club just behind my dorm at Boston University.  That was one of their last tours.  Their last album came out in 2001 just before I got married.  I figured I’d never have a chance to see them.

This summer, that all changes.  They recently announced a summer tour and they have 2 dates in Arizona.  The show in Phoenix is booked for the night I get back from a mission trip to Mexico.  There still isn’t a site in Tucson for the date (hello, someone).  I’m planning to go to the show in Phoenix unless a location in Tucson comes together.  Being new here, I just don’t have the connections yet.  But I’m working on it.

This had me thinking about a set list.  What songs would I want them to play.  Yeah, they would be there longer than the double disc Live at Cornerstone 2000 recording I have.  After all, they have 12 albums to draw from.  I’ve been meaning to do this, but keep forgetting.  But Pam Mark Hall just posted that the rehearsals sound great and mentioned some songs they are prepping for the shows.


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Back in 1991 a strange, beautiful thing happened.  Members of 4 of my favorite alternative Christian bands formed a side band called The Lost Dogs.  Terry Taylor (lead singer & songwriter for DA & the Swirling Eddies), Gene Eugene (singer & songwriter for Adam Again), Derri Daugherty (singer & guitarist for the Choir, which is releasing a new album in June) and Mike Roe (lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for the 77’s) decided to move from friends to musical partners.  What emerged was the band much like the Traveling Wilburys.  It was like nothing any of them had done before.

It was a blend of folk rock and blues rock.  The first album (Scenic Routes) contained moments both serious and silly (Why is the Devil Red?).  While I don’t much like the political statements (Bush League) I really enjoyed the combination of sadness and faith.  They did covers (You Gotta Move, Lord, Protect My Child), adapted songs (Old and Lonesome), wrote some songs together and some alone.  It was a great, vibrant mix that has held up well over time.

In 1993 they followed this up with the similar-sounding but equally good Little Red Riding Hood.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  The only covers this time was I’m a Loser by the Beatles and the traditional song Precious Memories.  There were silly songs (Bad Indigestion) and sad songs (Rocky Mountain Mines and Eleanor, It’s Raining Now).   There were also struggles (No Room for Us) and hope (You Satisfy).   The album had a slightly less folk and more rock feel to it.    Working together seemed to scratch an itch they all had in a way that we could all benefit from.

The Green Room Serenade (Part 1) was released in 1996 and continued the shift to a more popular style.  Terry Taylor was responsible for more of the songwriting.  The formula was still there.  They covered If It Be Your Will.  They had some fun on songs like Close But No Cigar and Hey, You Little Devil.  There was hope in songs like Love Takes Over the World.  It was probably their most upbeat and accessible album.  Things were looking good for their side gig.


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In one of his letters to Daniel West, John Newton talks about trials.  His friend had been in the “furnace” recently, and Newton addresses that.

“I hope you have much to say of the grace, care, and skill of the great Refiner, who watched over you; and that you have lost nothing but dross.”

If you have been in a trial recently, you may have trouble hearing that.  My family’s recent trials were far from pleasant.  As we went through the furnace it was had to see all the grace, care and skill of the Refiner.  But I can see it more clearly in retrospect.  Pain, physical or emotional, has a way of blinding your eyes.

This afternoon I was listening to Daniel Amos Live at Cornerstone 2000.  Terry Taylor, the lead singer and song writer of the band, shared that it had been a hard year.  But that is when it gets back to the main thing- intimacy with Jesus.

“Let this experience be treasured up in your hearts for the use of future times.”

Yesterday’s trials are meant to assist us in tomorrow’s trials.  “Remember” is a frequently used word in Deuteronomy 8.  Israel needed to remember their time in the wilderness, and God’s steadfast love there.  We can’t just move on, but take lessons with us.  We have to call His past faithfulness to mind when we begin to enter the furnace again.

Many of those trials have to do with our “weak spots”.  God is purifying us of habitual sin (which he first forgave in Christ).

“You know your weak side; endeavor to set a double guard of prayer there.”


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I had to head into Lakeland today, so I borrowed CavWife’s car so I could listen to CDs.  I chose Circle Slide by the Choir and John Wayne by Terry Scott Taylor.

Circle Slide is the Choir at their moody, atmospheric best.  Derri plays lots of moody guitar, and Steve plays some very cool drum beats.  A variety of folks help them out on bass including former bassist Robin Spurs, David Miner and Mike Sauerbrey.  No Tim Chandler this time around.  The music is not as aggressive as Speckled Bird, nor as pop at Wide Eyed Wonder.  This is probably my favorite Choir album.  The title song, Circle Slide, is a metaphor of heaven.  If I Had a Yard is the longing for a better life.  Both are meloncholy.  Well, the whole album is.

This is just as obvious with A Sentimental Song.  Sort of a human version of God singing over us, tainted with sorrow- “love endures the weather.”  Merciful Eyes is about the hope for mercy when we turn from His face, a hope built up the substitutionary death of Jesus.

They return to the theme of human love in Tear for Tear:

Until by death we fade/I’ll try to trade you/grin for grin/and tear for tear.

About Love also has some interesting turns of phrase:

Sorry to call so late/ the planet turned 4 times/you’re on my mind but you’re nowhere/in my world/please kiss the little bird/God bless the cozy cage we share/you kill me/you thrill me/ you threaten my dreams girl

One of my favorite songs, period, is Restore My Soul.  It is a cry of repentance, a longing for restoration.  It is by far the hardest rock song on the album, and a concert fav.  Booming drums and driving guitars.  What more could I ask for?

On the way home I enjoyed Terry Scott Taylor’s John Wayne.  I hadn’t listened to it in quite awhile.  Musically it bridges the gap between Daniel Amos’ Motorcycle and Mr. Buechner’s Dream (yes, they had a few albums inbetween).  On this solo album he got help from Mike Roe, Derri Daugherty, Tim Chandler, Ed McTaggert, Gene Eugene and Phil Madeira.  It is full of Terry’s typically obscure lyrics (lots of metaphor), and amusing lyrics.  This is not Christian feel-goodism.  It is faith in the real world.  The best songs are Writer’s Block, Hey, John Wayne (referring to the Airport in Orange County), Big Shot and Miniature Girl.  In the country sounding Ten Gallon Hat we find these interesting lyrics:

I’ll put on a ten gallon hat/over my devil horns

It isn’t Terry’s best album, but still better than most of what is out there.

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Perfecta was the final release by Adam Again, if I remember correctly.  Similarly to the 77’s, I heard an early album (New World in Time) and was not very impressed.  In a store one day, a friend had me listen to some of their Dig album and I was sold.  As mentioned in an earlier post, I listened to it driving up to Orlando the other night.  Ah, the memories.

Gene Eugene liked metaphor, so many of his lyrics were not easy to interpret.  The average CCM band they were not.  Along with Daniel Amos, the 77’s, and the Choir, they led the alternative rock movement among Christian musicians.  It was no mistake that Gene would join with Terry Taylor, Mike Roe and Derry Daugherty from those respective bands to form The Lost Dogs.

Perfecta was not Adam Again’s best album but it was still a very good album.  I think this was following Gene’s divorce, and a fair amount of that sense of alienation comes through somehow.  It starts off with Stone, “and I try to forget the day I chased you away.”  The guitar has plenty of reverb, and it stays that way throughout the album.  There are plenty of songs with extended solos, or musical interludes.

Strobe is one of those songs where you just aren’t sure what Gene is trying to say.  The chorus is a bit repetitive, but it works for some reason.  All You Lucky People sounds like the complaint of a prisoner to me (“I’ve got nothing but time”).

Air is one of those songs short of lyrics, but long on musical interludes.  The first verse is about the electric company employee demanding he pay his bill.  He doesn’t have money, but he’s got friends coming over.  Dogjam is one of my favorite songs, which could be due to lines like “3-legged dog hobblin’ in the back yard/ I don’t mind at all/ 3-legged dog, cat chasing is hard/but I can’t forget that she paid for it all.”  Lots of good guitar going for it too.

Every Mother’s Way is the token slower, more gentle song.  Try Not to Try is almost as slow, and seems to be about the process of sanctification, but I could be wrong. 

But songs like Unfunny and Relapse have plenty of loud, alternative rock ‘n’ roll.

Like the rest of the Adam Again catalog, this is hard to find.  I’ve never been able to replace my stolen copy of 10 Songs, which I think is their best collection of songs.  This is unfortunate, because Gene and company sure could make some interesting music.

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Since I don’t buy new music very often, I thought I’d bring up some of my favorite old albums when I listen to them.  The recent commercial for cashews caused me to pull Songs of the Heart sung by Daniel Amos out.  The cover art is reminiscent of old gospel albums- quite tongue-in-cheek considering the music found therein.  Daniel Amos is one of my favorite bands.  They are the fathers of Christian alternative music.  I once described their Fearful Symmetry album to one of my bosses as David Bowie on acid.  They were too far out there for most Christians.  One of my great regrets was never seeing them in concert.  They played just around the corner from my college dorm a few months before I learned who they were.

The album starts on with the song from the cashew commercial- Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.  This makes sense when you remember that they album is meant to chronicle Bud and Irma Akendorf’s spiritual journey (fictional folks).  It is a “musical film”, and this reflects their initial romance.  This is a great version of a classic song with plenty of distortion.  I was supposed to sing this song at the rehearsal dinner for my wedding.  Thankfully for everyone else there, it never happened.  CavWife and I share this joke together from time to time.


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