Reverse Perpendiculars

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Last Active 09-05-21 3:13 am
Joined 10-04-09

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03.11.23 Mere Christianity 09.02.21 list of dirty words
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Mere Christianity

A brief look at the meteoric rise of christianity in music at the end of the 20th Century, both in and out of the so-defined “Christian Contemporary Music” genre which once stripped musicians of their contracts for having past homosexual partners, and that now includes Kanye West for some reason.
1Norman Greenbaum
Spirit in the Sky

1970 - Spirit in the Sky - Along with The Doobie Brother’s Jesus is Just Alright being released 2 years later, this groovy song tends to scrape the Bible at face value with vague mentions of Jesus as a friend. The bouncy swing of the guitar lead is easy to recall for any person who has at least heard an inkling of music in their life, and no, ZZ Top didn’t steal it from Norman, they both took it from John Lee Hooker’s Boogie Chillen’.
2Kerry Livgren
Seeds of Change

1980 - Mask of the Great Deciever - As the first in the book of most forgotten shocks in rock and roll, Kansas’ lead songwriter wrote this for Ronnie James Dio and for him to sing, a man who himself claimed he struggled in and out of faith in his life as a once-practicing Catholic, and who once belted for Black Sabbath themselves, having to fend off both angry rock fans upset at the religious themes and upset Christians at Ronnie singing Christian songs in this memorable and cooled down look at Lucifer.
3Bob Dylan

1983 - Man of Peace - Serving as a “Hindsight is 2020” moment after Bob’s slog through three poorly received Christian albums in the 1980’s, Bob experienced a brief disillusionment with Christianity as it was mass-portrayed and began to rethink his position from that of got-to-be-perfect-and-saintly God-sent preacher that was too good to perform any previously written song that didn’t overtly praise God, to a realization that his classic songs were criticisms of society that were more Christian in philosophy and Jesus’ teachings than his sloppily penned praise hymns. Man of Peace goes back to this acclaimed style of writing and tells the Bible as it is – that good intentions can have evil within, and that Satan himself comes as a man of peace, with an innate ability to work his way into positions of power in society.
4Amy Grant
Lead Me On

1988 - Saved By Love - What Amy Grant did for Christian Music was akin to Michael Jackson leading pop – she went beyond defining the standard for the genre and made albums that only grew stronger with time. What Amy also excelled in was songwriting from a humble and grounded perspective, and Saved By Love captured the essence of her listeners at the time, describing the lives of women in the 80’s and the passions they fought for in their daily lives, in family, friendship, love, and God.
5King's X
Gretchen Goes to Nebraska

1989 - Mission - While the coming out of lead singer Doug Pinnick caused a stir among Christian stores that boasted their albums in the mid 90’s, he nonetheless had already written the best critiques of Christianity within the genre. As religion continues to weigh heavy on him today from his upbringing in a religious household of blind faith that boggled his mind (see his live introductions to Over My Head), and also pulled him towards it (with King’s X’s first two landmark albums in Progressive Rock and Metal having strong overtones), Mission delievers his stirring thoughts on organized religion as a cliquey "social get-together" that foregoes all pretense of emulating the life of Jesus.
6Michael W. Smith
Go West Young Man

1990 - Place in this World - The poster child of Christian power ballads, a million cookie-cutter attempts would soon be spawned for immediate rotation on “positive, encouraging” CCM radio with the hopes of reaching anywhere near this impressive top 10 Billboard hit that hilariously manages to step around any actual mentions of God or religion. It also includes a guitar solo befitting any self-respecting 80’s hit.
Sanity Obscure

1991 - Sanity Obscure - A prophetic beast of thrash metal that recalls the apocalyptic stories in Revelation, and mankind’s growing blindness to it as he approaches it. Riffs so hard that even the original, classic video game Doom had to rip a stripped-down MIDI of it to play on level 6.
Unseen Power

1991 - Destiny - Call them the Rush of Christian Rock, they largely pioneered their own style that changed rapidly through a career spanning over six decades and with team-ups alongside Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm and Kansas singer John Elefante. The latter of which ended up producing several albums for the group, redefining their sound into an unusually impressive and heavy-hitting and innovative powerhouse that echoed Bon Jovi and Def Leppard, for people who had never actually listened to either, by people who had never actually listened to either. Somehow, you could squeeze Destiny into a playlist of both and probably not find it out of place. The music video is a hilariously dated relic - more furiously edited than a Michael Bay film, and just as indecipherable with blurry, sepia toned shots of foggy scapes amidst flashes of blue and, lead singer John Schlitt pulling off his best Fabio look with the puffy shirt from Seinfeld.
9Toad the Wet Sprocket

1991 - Pray Your Gods - Written as a song about Jesus’ final moments before his death and from the narrator (a person today) in prayer to God, this painfully poignant ballad exists in two points on the plane of time, exploring the visceral connection that is experienced in forgiveness from God and painting the picture of how Jesus’ death allowed prayer to God without the use of personal sacrifices. But most powerfully, it boasts a chorus of Jesus telling humanity to shed the worship of angry and jealous depictions of God, and focus on the love and forgiveness he offers. In essence, not to dwell on the Anna Karenina principle, that the mentions of God as having the ability to be angry and jealous do not make him an all-encompassing God of anger and rage – but rather that he is a loving God with his reasons.
We Can't Dance

1991 - Jesus He Knows Me - I hope I am not shining Phil Collins already blinding trophies too much by saying that Jesus He Knows Me is one of the best-written songs about religion, and in particular, about televangelists. Because it is. Written during a plague of scandals involving the biggest names in the religion business, Phil Collins sings an unusually snarky attack on the hypocrisy of these multi-millionaires that preach the inoffensive and generic well-to-do messages of “love your neighbor,” “God will take care of you,” and most importantly “God told me to get 2 million dollars for this weekend for my private jet and limousine so I can spread his name.” This classic has all the humor of the John Oliver special on televangelists, but the best part is that the song is Phil Collins acting as the televangelist himself.
11Margaret Becker

1993 - This I Know - A now-oft forgotten name, Margaret was once a massive name within the CCM genre, and not just for sell-out concerts. Her events were picketed by *other* Christians that were offended that she was Catholic and making music about God. You know, because Catholics aren’t actual Christians. Despite this ridiculous vendetta against her, her music stood strong, and she survived the 80’s to delve into apodictic pop on This I Know, a stand on her beliefs during her tumultous career, and affirming the difficulty in continuing forward and in forgiving the people who harassed and degraded her.
Going Public

1994 - Shine - As the late to the party entry of the short lived American fascination of Australian Culture, what with INXS, Crocodile Dundee and Vegemite fizzling out as quickly as they started, the Newsboys took the torch from CCM with this one song, a gracefully witty and comedic anthem that uses urban prose to explain that following God’s word is more impressive to society than boasting it. It managed to make them multi-millionaires, with songwriter Peter Furler beating his cousin Sia to fame by a decade, and singer John James unfortunately falling into a life of drugs and infidelity as he sung about God each night during his concerts, leading him to fall into a downward spiral and being ousted from the band.
13Rebecca St. James
Rebecca St James

1994 - Here I Am - At 16 she already had a voice that made established pop stars jealous. Although the basic elements of Here I Am are unabashedly 90’s, this well crafted piece is a radio-ready classic in the throes of a now rapidly evolving CCM culture that would catapult Rebecca to the forefront of various Christian music festivals.
14Jars of Clay
Jars of Clay

1995 - Liquid - Produced by Adrian Belew of King Crimson fame, Liquid floats a haunting introspection of Jesus’ death and it’s meaning. It’s of a modern man questioning his faith, which is also questioning Jesus to his face – “Are you dying for nothing?” he says, “Are you looking for someone?” This powerful track evolves into an implication that we may never understand the true scale or size of it.
15dc Talk
Jesus Freak

1995 - Jesus Freak - No list of this history would be complete without the track that broke both CCM and conventional radio. While the mundane track “Between You and Me” would technically garner more airplay, it was this song that caused the ruckus and discussion, with Christians branding themselves with the title as a badge, as the lyrics took the commonplace apathetic stance in grunge and forced it into one of unapologetic fervor. Dc Talk had surely started as a hip-hop group but it was largely downplayed here in order to dump that solo that crushed the grunge genre.
16Rich Mullins

1996 - Calling Out Your Name - Rich was a massive influence in churches as a modern hymn composer. His lyrics were cathartic and searching, and his studio recordings were uniquely layered with hammered and lap dulcimers, irish tin whistles, among pianos and stringed instruments and symphonic percussion, of which Calling Out Your Name is the best representation of his unique style. He unfortunately died at the peak of his songwriting career after being hit by an oncoming vehicle on the way to one of his concerts.
17Audio Adrenaline
Some Kind of Zombie

1997 - Some Kind of Zombie - With the culmination of the alternative rock genre as it fulminated from grunge, Audio Adrenaline found a ground to stand, and despite having to fight against the churches refusal of rock as a place to talk about God, they wrote songs that spoke to a generation of young Christians. Their lead singer is famed as a monumental voice that only grew better with age due to a condition called spasmodic dyphonia, until it rendered him unable to consistently sing. Some Kind of Zombie waggishly calls Christians to be literal representations of the mindless creatures, contrasting the cleansing of sin and building connections with God as an inevitable, larger disconnection from earthly desires.
18Michelle Tumes

1998 - Healing Waters - Delving into that rich mine of Enya-esque soundscapes, Michelle gracefully avoids mentions of God to get that sweet, sweet airtime on adult contemporary radio. Jesting aside, the song is impressive enough to stand on its own merit as a soothing arrangement of notes in their most inoffensive patterns, perhaps best suited in a mixtape alongside Celtic Woman and Coldplay’s Clocks.
19Steven Curtis Chapman

1999 - Dive - Already a household name for church attending Christians at the time, Steven had composed religiously led country from his Tennessee and Kentuckian homegrounds, amidst rock, pop, a couple ill-fated flirtations with hip-hop, tracks for big budget hollywood movies, and a huge catalog of songs written for budding Christian artists. At the turn of the century, Dive was released - a hyper-polished pop jaunt that had kids and adults singing it in Church and every Christian radio station playing it nearly every hour, on the hour
20Third Day

1999 - I've Always Loved You - While Steven Curtis had long dropped the country mantle from his music by the end of the millenium, Third Day embraced it, penning their own southern rock as a group of honest men that weren't afraid to admit they loved and followed Jesus, and that sound translated smoothly into hymn form for churches as well. I've Always Loved You is an earlier, albeit simpler hit from the group that is closer to their works that would flourish in the genre after 9/11, when people would rapidly seek out this group's spiritually hopeful psalms.
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