Posts Tagged ‘Religion and Spirituality’

Madonna is one of those artists that can do everything and do it well: sing, dance, and act – though that remains rather questionable. Howevever, every artist must grow up eventually and prove to both audience and peers that they are great. Madonna does this in her own unique way with her 1989 release, Like A Prayer.

Like A Prayer unveils a new persona of Madonna: the grownup. With the release of this album, not only does her own voice seem to mature – but also the overall production and lyrical content. On the title song. Madge explores religious elements in both lyric and production. She uses a backup choir and the lyrics are both a double entendre for prayers to God and sex.

In fact, this song wasn’t without controversy. The video for Like A Prayer stirred up quite a bit of controversy among Christiansdue to its exploitation of burning crosses and Madonna having sex with a saint in a church. Pepsi used the song for a commercial

Cover of "Like a Prayer"

The cover of the album is a direct homage to "Sticky Fingers" by the Rolling Stones

starring Madonna and ended up pulling the commercial altogether after only a few airings.

One of the best things about this album is the production quality. For this album, Madonna chose the production team of Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard. Leonard previously had worked with Madge on some of her best known hits such as La Isla BonitaWhere’s The Party, and Who’s That Girl. Bray was previously a member of her old band, Emmy and the Emmys. The instrumentation on such songs as Till Death Do Us Part, Cherish, and Keep It Together are all amazing.

Lyrically, Madge also grows up. Promise To Try feels like a letter to a 5-year-old Madonna from the adult Madonna. It is quite possibly about the death of her own mother, who died of cancer at the age of 30. Madge herself has said that this fact – her mother dying at such a young age, was on her mind along with her divorce from actor Sean Penn. These 2 factors influenced the recording of this album.

Overall, this is Madonna at the height of her career. It’s one of her best and definetly worth a listen.


Michael W. Smith is the most talented keyboard player in Christian music. Back in the 80’s and 90’s he and his former employer, CCM legend Amy Grant (whom he played keyboards for in the early 80’s). were the genre’s answer to Bernie Taupin and Elton John.

In 1984, Smith released the followup to his Michael W. Smith Project album; the aptly titled Michael W. Smith 2. The album’s opener is the impressively synth-friendly classic A Way. The song is great lyrically and stylistically – a somewhat rare ordeal in contemporary christian music.

The lyrics talk about God meeting us where we are at, rather than us trying to reach him:

Caught in a dream of where I want to be

Wrapped in a web of where I am

I feel a wall between what is and what should be

You find me waiting for an miracle
You hear me praying for a plan

You are the only one prepared to rescue me

Then you take away the distance

Found between the truth and me

& you give a simple reason to my restless rhyme

Woa, hide me in the Heavens

You have held within your hand

And make a way to find a way to soothe my mind

There is a way that might seem right to me

a dim reflection of what’s good

Just an illusion of the best that I can be

But there’s another path you offer me

I wish I always understood

Some way you see right through my thoughts

And all my needs

 This is a must-have for your download collection!

Singer Kevin Max by a window, taken for public...

Kevin Max Smith, formely of DC Talk.

A few months ago I was at my day job and I was listening to Out of the Grey’s 1993 self-titled debut album on my Grooveshark account. My boss waltzes in and sees my home screen, which has a picture of the album cover and asks “Out of the Grey: are they still ALIVE?!” to which I respond with a “yes.” Needless to say, he was surprised that someone as young as I would actually know who Out of the Grey is.Unbeknownst to him, I am well-versed in who Scott and Christine Dente are as I am with the likes of Stevie Nicks and Pat Benatar. I have or have had at one point all of their albums and seen them in concert twice in the 90’s – my parents would take me.

It got me to rethink something I have been pondering for a considerable amout of time now: why can’t the Contemporary Christian Music industry see that there maybe a market for a CCM classic station? One of the things that I hate about CCM radio is they refuse to play anything from the 70’s-mid 2000’s. With the exception of their golden boy Chris Tomlin, its like artists such as Point of Grace, DC Talk, Rebecca St. James, Out of the Grey, Russ Taff, etc have all dropped off the face of the earth.

As a result of this, a whole generation is now coming of age not knowing that TobyMac is famous for being in DC Talk, not just his solo work. They’ll never know who the other two guys are: Michael Tait and Kevin Max Smith. Nevertheless, it’s a travesty that these guys will never know that great band.

Plus, people like retro. They love nostalgia. That’s why classic rock is very popular. That’s why, whenever a long-broken up band (such as Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, the GoGos’s, Aerosmith) return, they return in a major way. People buy their tickets and albums because not only do they like the new stuff, but they also like the familiar faces. From what I saw when TobyMac performed “Jesus Freak” in concert as the encore, the crowd LOVED it.

Also, with CCM, there is one thing that makes it stand out from all other genres: its the same rhetoric from over 2000 years ago. Granted, yes, some of the slang maybe different as well as styles and fashion choices, but the message is the same. Though yes, Christians should try to remain relevant but relevancy for one person is irrelevancy to another. Who knows? Some people may love 80’s hair metal bands.

Additionally, great musicians are influenced by other great musicians. Margaret Becker and Amy Grant. would not exist without Joanie Mitchell. Without Metallica, P.O.D would not exist. Music, generally-speaking,  is a form of building blocks. If CCM doesn’t start both openly promoting older artists, they will be taking away a major building block in creativity. One must be inspired to create, so how come other, older Christian artists inspire a younger generation? Why can’t Amy Grant to a 16-year-old girl who feels excluded because of some of her nonlegalistic ways?

One of the best things about Contemporary Christian Music singer Amy Grant is that she isn’t afraid to tell the truth. Though the truth can hurt, she does it in a very loving way. This is what makes her rather popular even to this day in Contemporary Christian Music.

On 1982’s Age To Age, Grant shows that she is now a beautiful, young, Christian woman. Grant, whose previous albums included her self titled debut album (recorded when she was only a teenager), My Father’s Eyes, 2 live albums, and 1980’s

Cover of "Age to Age"

forgettable Never Alone.

Grant takes a new musical direction with Age to Age. She and then-piano player Michael W. Smith experiment with some of the musical stylings that made the music of Fame popular at the time on Don’t Run Away.  Grant also grows up lyrically on Got to Let It Go where she exclaims “Lord, here’s my heart/ I’ve been keepin’ it from you/ And I’ve got to let it go/ Holdin’ on just brings me worry.

Other songs, she takes a more classically-inclined approach. Songs such as Sing Your Praise to the Lord, and El Shaddai, which is sung partially in Hebrew. The latter talks about the death of Christ.

Age to Age  was the first Christian music album to gain gold certification status in 1983. It became the first of its genre to be certified platinum in 1985. Upon its release, it became the fastest-selling CCM album during that time – unheard of in that genre back then!

Overall this is a good album, but if you are not familiar with Grant’s earlier work – only her later work, you will be dissappointed.  However this is still a classic.

Photograph © Scott Newton Weselex Depository ...

Image via Wikipedia

So It has come to the attention of I, the Wild Heart, that yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the death of legendary blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn. Since I was born, raised, and still reside in the great state of Texas – Stevie is a big deal when it comes to blues music. You could say he is the equivalent of what Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi are to those on the Jersey shore.

However, there’s something about Stevie that makes him a little different than other guitarists. However, it has almost nothing to do with his technique, style or even vocals. It is what he believes. It turns out that later in his life, Vaughn rediscovered the faith of his childhood.

Here is an excerpt from his journal according to

“God…I pray that I be cleansed/washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. Born again. I pray that I may be of use to you as you see fit. Help me that I may do my part. Amen.” ……….”God has been very good to me. He is good to all life. The willingness to try to work on my health is another and I am grateful for this opportunity.” ……….”Altho I can get confused about life and it’s lessons, I can say that I am trying very hard to learn. I can see that I am learning how to care for others and for myself. Slowly sometimes, but surely nevertheless. I can play beautiful music. This is a gift that God has given me and a gift that I do my best to use for good and give it all I have. I am loved by many of God’s children for this, and because it does show that I am trying to grow in this life. God saved me among so many and I must accept that he has a purpose for me. If I am good enough for God, I should be good enough for me. Thank you, God!”

Also here is a sample from “Life Without You.”

“You know, right now, the most important thing in my life is to make sure you understand that first of all, I thank God I’m alive today. And I mean that. You see, I spent too many years of my life thinking that the big party was the whole thing. It took me quite a while to realize that the real deal is to be able to be enough of a person on your own to know when somebody loves you and cares about you. You see, we are here, as far as I can tell, to help each other. Our brothers, our sisters, our friends, our enemies. That’s to help each other, not hurt each other…and sometimes, to help them, we have to help ourself…so that we’ll know that they’re around in the first place.

You see, it’s a big world out there…there’s enough pain and misery in it without me going around and helpin’ it out by hurting myself, and consequently, those that care about me. What I’m trying to get across to you is: Please take care of yourself and those that you love…because that’s what we are here for, that’s all we’ve got, and that is what we can take with us.”

Now here is an interesting ordeal: the Wild Heart serves the same God that Stevie is talking about. I maybe a bit imperfect – actually I am VERY imperfect. But Christ makes me perfect.

Sadly for Vaughn, he passed away August 27th, 1990 in East Troy, Wisconsin in a helicopter crash.

His time may have been short, but he was one that will never be forgotten.

Just thought that was super-interesting to share.

Ladies and gents, I need to admit something: I have a love-hate relationship with Pandora radio. My Stevie Nicks station now only plays indie music – not her solo stuff, Fleetwood Mac or even Buckingham Nicks – all of which I have separate stations for. Additionally, I am sick of it playing the same songs of hers or Fleetwood Mac every single time I bring it up: Landslide. I also tried to give a shot but it went down in a blaze of glory. However, no thanks to the ex-boyfriend of me, the Wild Heart, I have been introduced to something that is nothing short of amazing: Grooveshark. Better yet, it’s legal and free unless you don’t want ads – then you must pay. But the best thing is you can upload songs and listen to songs in a query, but you don’t download them.

I have found many random things on there, so I will tell you of what they are. They are mostly rarities – like I have never heard them OR I haven’t heard them since I was a child. The 0 of the best that I have found on Grooveshark.

  1. Stand In My PlaceBryan Duncan. This is one of those songs that to me, just screamed “put me at number one.” I grew up listening to Contemporary Christian music because I was born, raised, and still am a rather devout Christian. I used to hear this all the time back in 1991-1993 when I was 4-7 on 89.3 FM KSBJ. As Christian music matured a little in the 90’s, this song and artist virtually disappeared from KSBJ’s playlists. As I myself discovered my own faith outside of the faith of my parents and grandparents (I’m Protestant, raised Southern Baptist, but now attend a Vineyard church). Something about the lyrics that say “you traded paradise for poverty/ created all and laid it all on the line for me/ I’m just an ordinary heart and soul/ you bridged an ocean to stand in my place.” Nobody else would have done that for me, and that is why I choose Christ.
  2. All My LIfeBryan Duncan. This was also a song that has since disappeared from the airwaves of KSBJ. Glad to see it once again on Grooveshark.
  3. Thousand DaysStevie Nicks. Since I have become quite a bit of a Stevie Nicks fan lately, I have been looking up her music alot on the internet. I came across this on Grooveshark and it turns out this is on her Enchanted box set – which is somewhat of a limited edition from what I hear. I don’t think it is a demo because it sounds professionally produced, that is, unless she produced it herself. Either way it is one amazing track. I cannot help but wonder who the song is aimed at and what album was it meant for.
  4. Love In A World Gone MadAgnetha Faltskog. Though I am not a big fan of ABBA, this woman is a really good pop artist. I wish she would have gone places beyond Sweden.
  5. Races Are RunBuckingham Nicks. Before Lindsey Buckingham and his then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac, they were known as Buckingham Nicks. They recorded one album together entitled Buckingham Nicks. It is considered a rare album, however many bootleg cds have surfaced. Lindsey Buckingham has expressed interest in re-releasing the album, however it has yet to be released.
  6. Pac-Man FeverBuckner and Garcia. For some reason I find this song amusing.
  7. Cest La VieRobbie Neville. I first saw this song on VH1 Classic’s Greatest One-Hit Wonders. I must say that back in his day, Robbie was one hottie. Sadly now he looks like an old man and those cute-boy looks have long gone.
  8. Into the Hollywood Groove – Missy Elliott featuring Madonna. Normally I am not a big rap fan. However, I will make an exception for this song because I like Madonna on the chorus.
  9. 96 Tears ? and the Mysterians. Kids, this is what drugs and music sound like mixed together.
  10. BLOX germ-killerGTA Vice City. I would imagine that somehow, some way, Howard Hughes would use so much of this germ-killer that he probably would own the company and run it from his little theater in his house much akin to how he was in The Aviator with Leonardo DiCaprio

What happens when you mix a virtually unknown Christian rock band from Australia that sounds better than its mainstream

The Newsboys are one of the craziest and most serious bands in Contemporary Christian Music.

Australian predecessors (INXS, Kylie Minogue, the BeeGees, and even Men at Work), a rotating drum set, the message of Christ‘s love and forgiveness, and all-around craziness? You get the Newsboys!

Since the landmark release of their eponymous album Not Ashamed in 1992, the Newsboys have been at the top of their game within modern-day Contemporary Christian music.

One of the best things about Take Me To Your Leader is that it is an album that is fun to listen to. You don’t have to be a Christian to love their music because it is fun for everyone. Especially on the title track, where they talk about those that are searching for Christ in all the wrong places. Co-lead singer John James proclaims “I don’t know why you care/ I don’t know what’s out there/ I don’t know how it’s done/ Just take me to your leader son” Breathe, in the same vain, talks about how Christ is all about renewal to humanity.

However, one of the most standout tracks is the disco-friendly Reality, which is a retelling of the story of the Prodigal Son.

The Newsboys are not immune to their own sense of humor, especially on Breakfast where they exclaim “with spoons held high we bid our brother ‘cheerio.'”

On the other hand, the album gets a bit more serious with songs that talk about why forgiveness, though hard, is something that needs to be done because it is what Christ says to do (Let It Go) and even miracles on Miracle Child.

This album is definetly a classic.