Posts Tagged ‘The Call’

While I was in college “I Still Believe (Grand Design)” was often on the radio.  It was a great song, but I didn’t follow up on the band at all.  Then things changed.

First, I became a Christian.  After discovering that there were a few interesting Christian bands out there, I subscribed to a magazine called Harvest Rock Syndicate, later called The Syndicate.  They focused on Christians who were making rock and alternative music.  I found a reviewer in Brian Quincy Newcomb whose tastes closely mirrored mine.  When he reviewed Into the Woods I knew I had to check it out.  Soon thereafter I purchased my first CD player.  I bought 4 or 5 new CDs to celebrate.  Among them was Into the Woods and Reconciled.  I was hooked.

They were a progressive band- part new wave (especially the earliest albums) and part rock.  They had some great lyrics that wrestled with life.  They didn’t settle for the simplistic, but still had a soul anchor.  Tom Ferrier’s lefty guitar work was great.  They had a great sound to accompany those lyrics.

After U2 broke the world wide open with Joshua Tree, it seemed the Call was poised to take advantage.  They were called the future of American music, and people like Peter Gabriel hailed them.  I was excited.  Let the Day Begin, another fantastic album was released.  The song was popular on rock radio, but the explosion never happened.  As what often happens, the ‘next big thing’ didn’t become anything.  I wasn’t crushed when Dexy’s Midnight Runners fizzled (just an example), but I was disappointed for the Call that they didn’t take off.  It didn’t seem fair… they were more talented and thoughtful than 98% of the drivel being sold/purchased at the time.  Fantasy was in; real life honesty not so much.  U2 must have exhausted the market.

I caught a live show at Gordon College.  The acoustics were horrible, but the band was great.  They put on a good show.  Not fancy- it was all about the music.

Then they shifted styles.  Red Moon was more subtle musically.  It was a very good album, but I don’t recall hearing anything from it on the radio.  By this time I was in seminary down in FL.  My discretionary spending was nil.  Somehow a live album, Live Under the Red Moon, slipped out without my knowledge in 2000.  You can find it, but it is a bit expensive.  I may still have to bit the bullet since I love live albums.

For a short time Michael Been took a break to explore some different territory solo.  Sort of solo anyway.  His friends from The Call showed up on On the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough.  Though different from his work with the Call, it was still a great album forged during a dissolving relationship.  He also wrote the soundtrack for a little seen movie called Light Sleeper (I’ve only seen parts of it).  It starred Willem Defoe, whom he met on the set of The Last Temptation of Christ.  I never saw that, but I think Been played the Apostle John.

The Call would release one more album, To Heaven and Back, but the magic was gone.  It was better than most albums, but not up to the standards set by earlier albums.   Around this time they played Cornerstone.  In 1997 they did a 3-piece acoustic tour.

In recent years Michael has focused on his son’s band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  He was working the sound board for their European tour when he suffered a heart attack.  If he still believed, to die is gain and he beholds all he’d longed for.

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The Cavman is on vacation. One of the many benefits of vacation is the ability to catch up on the reading I’ve been meaning to do. Since we flew across the country, I had plenty of time (except when CavSon was rambunctious) to dig into Sinclair Ferguson’s By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me. If you haven’t read Sinclair Ferguson before, I ask you “Why?”. I always find food for my soul in Ferguson’s books.  This book was no exception.

This book, a companion to his recent book In Christ Alone, is different. Ferguson utilizes a hymn by African pastor Emmanuel Sibomana to explore the amazing nature of God’s grace. Each of the 7 chapters uses the corresponding stanza as a spring board into good pastoral theology. By that I mean the application of theology to pastoral/personal matters.

“Being amazed by God’s grace is a sign of spiritual vitality. It is a litmus test of how firm and real is our grasp of the Christian gospel and how close is our walk with Jesus Christ. The growing Christian finds that the grace of God astonishes and amazes. … Sadly, we might more truthfully sing of ‘accustomed grace.'”

My Chains Fell Off– the gospel begins with liberation. Ferguson begins with the bondage we experience before being liberated. Christians look back and see their prior bondage. Non-Christians often don’t even notice the chains they are so accustomed to them. There were a few twists I did not expect. He quotes part of the Kinks’ song Dedicated Follower of Fashion.  Later he quotes the Rolling Stones’ (Can’t Get No) Satisfaction [one of the few Stones song I like]. I thought of a few more songs that illustrated depravity while reading along.

“Every time she walks on by, wild thoughts escape” U2God Part 2

“‘We’ll walk on thru heaven’s door and proudly raise our heads.’  I said, ‘Man, you must be crazy, our hands are covered blood red.'”  The CallBlood Red

We are in a bondage from which we cannot free ourselves. But when we forget the depths of our bondage grace becomes boring. Part of the bondage is that when it is pointed out, people feel insulted. “How dare you call me a sinner!” Until we grasp the severity of the bondage we won’t grasp the wonder of the freedom. Even from respectable bondage, like those which enslaved the Pharisees.


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