It’s Lefty’s fault. OK, not really.
Actually, it was about 10 or 11 years ago when I was in a Bible study with Carol, who I was dating, and three other women (who I was NOT dating). During the course of that year, I identified a bunch of songs that were pop songs of a spiritual nature.
Flash forward to the fall of 2005. Chris Brown, a/k/a Lefty, who has been the instigator of a number of mixed CD exchanges I’ve participated in, asked if I wanted to do a one-off bilateral exchange with him of a more spiritual nature. I always wanted to take those songs identified a decade earlier and put them into some coherent, cohesive order, so I said yes.
What I discovered, of course, is that some of the songs from 1995 were only on vinyl. Conversely, I had picked up a few more choices in the digital form. In any case, earlier this year I sent Lefty two CDs:
1. Our Prayer-Beach Boys
2. In the Beginning-Mike Oldfield
3. The Garden-Bobby McFerrin
4. Brother’s Keeper-Neville Brothers
5. Story of Isaac-Judy Collins
6. Rock Steady-Sting
7. Run On For a Long Time-Bill Langford & Langfordaires
8. The 23rd Psalm-Bobby McFerrin
10. Rivers of Babylon-Linda Ronstadt
11. Rivers of Babylon-Melodians
12. Turn, Turn, Turn-Bruce Cockburn
13. Dry Bones-Delta Rhythm Boys
14. The First Baseball Game-Nat Cole
1. The Word-Beatles
2. Jesus Children of America-Stevie Wonder
3. Touch the Hem of His Garment-Soul Stirrers w/ Sam Cooke
4. Up Above My Head/Blind Bartimus-Marty Stuart with Jerry and Tammy Sullivan
5. The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar-Bob Dylan
6. When Love Comes to Town-U2 w/ B.B. King
7. The Cross-Prince
8. Jesus Christ-U2
9. Jesus is Just Alright-Doobie Brothers
10. Good Shepherd-Jefferson Airplane
11. When God Dips His Pen of Love in My Heart-Alison Krauss
12. Discipline-Bobby McFerrin
13. The Man Comes Around-Johnny Cash
14. Yazala Abambuti-Samite
Then. since Lefty was busy with his new website, Greg Burgas, who had participated in the earlier CD exhanges, initiated one on his own. Since my previous selection was of a certain theology, I thought I’d take a different perspective this time:
1. The Vatican Rag-Tom Lehrer. How to sell the product.
2. Heavenly Bank Account-Frank Zappa. I chose the live version, mostly for the line, “Tax the churches!” Both versions segue into the intro for “Suicide Chump”.
3. Jesus He Knows Me-Genesis. I was very fond of this video on MTV some years back. Always reminded me of Jim Bakker. Topics: money and sex.
4. Reverend Lee-Roberta Flack. It’s about a “black Southern Baptist minister” who thinks he’s got his act together.
5. The Christian Life-the Byrds. In their country period. A straight reading would make this a song of faith, but I’m hearing a bit of sarcasism here.
6. Mercedez Benz-Janis Joplin. I was singing this at a factory when I was 18, and someone asked me if it was a Temptations song. At the time, I thought that was VERY funny.
7. Bible Dreams-the Wild Swans. “Soldier on.” From one of those Sire Records’ Just Say Yes albums I used to collect.
8. One of Us-Joan Osborne. At my old church, a guest minister did a sermon on this song.
9. Losing My Religion-R.E.M. Probably THE obvious choice for this disc.
10. Dear God-Sarah McLaughlin. I could have put the XTC version, but this one had more passion. (Someone downloaded it for me, and the volume is noticably less than the other cuts; it’s the only download- everything else is in my collection.)
11. Blessed-Simon and Garfunkel. A live version from 1967. “Oh, Lord, why have you forsaken me?”
12. Christmas-the Who. “How can he be saved…”
13. The Mercy Seat-Johnny Cash. From his third American album. The Benmont Tench piano really makes it.
14. God-John Lennon. Another piano-driven song, this time with Billy Preston.
15. Jesus Hits Like an Atom Bomb-Lowell Blanchard and the Valley Trio. This song from 1950 was on the soundtrack to an early ’80s movie I saw called Atomic Cafe. “Everybody’s worried about the atomic bomb, But nobody’s worried ’bout the day my Lord will come.”
16. Will Jesus Wash the Bloodstains from Your Hands-Exene Cervenka. This is, in essence, a reply to the previous song, by the former member of X.
17. Date to Church-the Replacements. Because we got a little heavy there, a fun ending. Another “Just Say Yes” cut.
I had intended to put another cut between 13 and 14, Rosanne Cash’s “World Without Sound” from her new album, in part because it name-checks Lennon, but I couldn’t copy it from Black Cadillac album I bought. It’s too bad, because I really wanted to plug that disc again. Ah, well.
In putting together this collection, I came across this page, but ended up picking none of the choices, though, independently, there is some crossover.
In any case, I’ll make you an offer: anyone who wants any of the discs (OT, NT and/or Doubt), please let me know. If you want to send a SASE, preferably with a padded envelope or one of those disc mailers; e-mail me, and I’ll tell you where to send it. The SASE is NOT required.
One last point: as a librarian, I do care about intellectual property rights, though I believe that recent changes (i.e., expansion) in copyright law violate the intent of the Founders. I will make the case that these discs reflect fair use. Moreover, from previous exchanges, I recognize that the participants hear music with which they are unfamiliar and end up buying MORE music.