Influential Albums: 1213-1219
Thu., Sep. 7. 2023 8:51pm EDT
J. Jackson, lead singer and lyricist for ApologetiX here again.
Here are the latest entries in the "albums that influenced me" series I started writing in May 2020.
Note: Just because an album appears on this list doesn't mean I give it a blanket endorsement. Many of the secular albums on this list are mainly there because they wound up being spoofed by ApologetiX.
1213. Biblical Graffiti – ApologetiX
This is arguably the most influential ApologetiX album for me personally ... yet probably the one I least wanted to make. As I mentioned earlier, when I found out my first wife was having an affair in 1999, I intended to shut down the band in an effort to save the marriage, but she stopped me from doing that and said it wouldn't make a difference. Meanwhile, Karl wasn't about to let me cancel the concerts we had scheduled or change the plans already in place for recording our fifth LP. We recorded Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz's drum tracks (seven songs) on July 29 at Audio Loft in Ambridge PA and Fred Behanna's drum tracks (15 songs) on September 17 at Audiomation in Pittsburgh. Keith Haynie played his bass live along with those guys, but I can't remember if we used all of that or if he did any overdubs at Karl's home studio in Baden PA, but that's where Karl and I recorded his guitars and my vocals after the drums and bass were done. I know I was recording there during the National League Championship Series between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, which took place from October 12-19. I think Bill Hubauer may have recorded the keyboard parts in his home studio. The album was mixed down and mastered at Studiophonix in Mount Pleasant PA. My accounting records show us paying for that on November 12. I'm not sure what day we received the finished Biblical Graffiti CDs from the manufacturer; I know we had our official release party at the Robinson Town Centre Family Bookstore on December 18, 1999. Those were all important dates, but the most significant one for me regarding this CD was January 8, 2000. That's the day a lady named Lisa Thompson ordered a copy online after she'd heard a radio interview with me during the Doug & Karla morning show on WAY-FM in Nashville TN while driving to her job in Paducah KY. Doug and Karla played the opening track from Biblical Graffiti, "One Way," our parody of the Barenaked Ladies song "One Week." Lisa liked the original and what we'd done with it (and my sense of humor during the interview), and that's what prompted her to buy the CD. I sent her a "thank you" note (as I did for everyone who ordered), but she responded with a nice email herself. I replied to that, and then she responded to my reply, and we kept going from there. I've written in detail elsewhere about what happened after that, but I'll sum it up by saying that Lisa Thompson became Lisa Jackson on June 3, 2000. Praise the Lord!
1214. 40 Acres – Caedmon's Call
About a week into my correspondence with my new pen pal, Lisa Thompson, I discovered that she was a big fan of the Houston-based Christian folk/alternative group Caedmon's Call and had even seen them a couple times in concert. I knew a couple of their songs from the WOW compilation CDs, so I bought their most-recent LP at the time, 40 Acres, which had been released in April 1999. I'd seen the striking green cover a number of times in record stores and thought it was quite memorable. As it turned out, so was the music. I already really liked the song "Thankful" from WOW 2000, but there were plenty of other great tunes. The highlight for me is the title track, which closes the album. Other favorites include "There You Go," "Where I Began," and "Daring Daylight Escape." I remember Lisa quoting from the songs "Somewhere North" and "Table for Two" in her messages to me, and I love this line from "Shifting Sand": "And like a consumer I've been thinking if I could just get a bit more — more than my fifteen minutes of faith — then I'd be secure." There's also a great cover of Shawn Colvin's "Climb On (A Back That's Strong)." But all 11 tracks are great, and I listened to them a lot as my relationship with Lisa was blossoming, so this album brings back a flood of lovely memories. On a semi-related note, I also love the song "Give Me Forty Acres (To Turn This Rig Around)" by The Willis Brothers, a Top 10 country hit in 1964. I first learned of that one from former ApX drummer Keith Harrold, who used to sing it when we were on the road.
1215. Time - Third Day
I think I first heard of the Atlanta-area Christian rock band Third Day in the late '90s from a fan in Hawaii named Jeff Sinchak, who was trying to work on a way to get ApologetiX to the islands. If I recall correctly, he liked the strong biblical basis of their lyrics and thought they'd be a good match for ApologetiX. We did eventually make it to Hawaii a few years later, but we'd be sharing the stage with a different notable CCM group. I'll get to them and that in my next entry. Anyway, I finally heard a couple Third Day songs on the WOW compilation CDs, and I especially liked "I've Always Loved You," so I bought their third LP, Time, which had come out in August '99, in January 2000. My new special friend Lisa liked them, too. Of the other songs on Time, my favorite was probably "Sky Falls Down." Other strong tracks include "Believe," "Took My Place," "What Good," and "Your Love Oh Lord (Psalm 36)," which we were still singing during praise-and-worship time at my church almost a quarter-century later. Third Day lead singer Mac Powell's voice has some similarities to Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, and at times on Time the band itself reminds me a little of both Pearl Jam and Hootie & the Blowfish although I'm not saying I think they were trying to copy those other artists. I don't even know if they were influenced by them. Third Day formed in '91, Pearl Jam in '90, and Hootie in '86. Even so, Pearl Jam didn't have any hits till '92 and Hootie didn't have their big breakthrough till '94.
1216. I Want to Be Like You – FFH
Originating in Lancaster PA in 1993, FFH were initially known as ... wait a minute ... they are initially known as FFH. But they started out as Four for Harmony, then Far from Home, before just going with the three-letter approach. The group released six independent projects before their first major-label release, I Want to be Like You, in 1998. Lisa liked 'em a lot, and I'd already thought this album's opening track, "One of These Days," was fabulous (having previously heard it on a WOW CD), so I picked up a copy for in January 2000. Of the 11 other songs, the most memorable for me were "Big Fish," "Take Me as I Am," and the title track. Pittsburgh natives should appreciate the ironic placement of the song "Big Fish" right before "Wholly to You." You see, in Pittsburgh's Strip District, there is a well-known establishment called Wholey's Fish Market, and it's a pretty big fish place. Lancaster is 240 miles from Pittsburgh, so I doubt the FFH folks did that on purpose. If I'd noticed it sooner, I could have asked them myself ... ApologetiX played two concerts with FFH in Honolulu on our mini-Hawaii tour in September 2002, and we sat together with them at a luau. We had to travel 4650 miles to meet a group that came from just up the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Boy, they took that "Far from Home" thing seriously ...
1217. Caedmon's Call – Caedmon's Call
Caedmon's Call formed in 1993, but it took a few years before they were signed by a major label, Warner Alliance. Consequently, when this self-titled LP hit the stores in March '97, most music buyers probably assumed it was the group's first, although it was technically their second. The album's most famous song is probably "Hope to Carry On," written by legendary Christian singer/songwriter Rich Mullins (best known for his worship anthem "Awesome God"), who tragically died in an automobile accident in September '97. I'd first heard "Hope to Carry On" via a WOW compilation CD, and it's great, but my favorite tunes here are the opener, "Lead of Love," and the closer, "Coming Home." While writing this entry, I asked my wife, Lisa, and she feels the same way and counts them both among her top five Caedmon's cuts. Another great track, "This World," was the first song Lisa ever heard by the group, as it was used in a "year in review" video at the University of Kentucky's Wesley Foundation, the place where she became a born-again Christian. A few other selections I specifically remember her pointing out to me early in our relationship (I borrowed her copy) are "Bus Driver," "Stupid Kid," and "Center Aisle." One I discovered on my own and enjoyed was "Not Enough." However, I found myself particularly interested in Lisa's opinions ... because I found myself particularly interested in Lisa.
1218. Ten Thousand Days - Bebo Norman
One Christian artist I'd never heard of before Lisa came into my life was Bebo Norman. He had opened for Caedmon's Call at a concert she'd seen the previous August, and she played his album Ten Thousand Days for me when we finally met in person the weekend before Valentine's Day in 2000. She'd flown up from Kentucky (technically, Nashville TN), so we could get together in person and she could also meet my parents and the guys in ApologetiX, since we had a concert scheduled that Saturday night. Lisa had also quoted from some of the selections on Ten Thousand Days in earlier emails, notably two beautiful songs about the opposite ends of relationships: "Deeper Still" (about divorce) and "A Page Is Turned" (about marriage). Released in September 1999, Ten Thousand Days was Bebo's first LP on a major label, although he'd released an indie album in '96 called The Fabric of Verse in '96 (which Lisa also owned) that contained some of the same songs. A third song Lisa brought to my attention was "The Hammer Holds," written from the perspective of a nail who would go on to be used in the crucifixion of Christ. That may sound like a bizarre concept, but trust me, it works in the context of the song when accompanied by music. My other favorites on Ten Thousand Days are "Walk Down This Mountain," "Stand," and "Selwood Farm." When Lisa and I finally got married in June 2000, we didn't have an official wedding song, but if we did, I think we probably would have picked "A Page Is Turned." It tells our own story so well. I got choked up and teary-eyed just reading the lyrics again as I wrote this entry. If you'd like to hear the song for yourself, here's one of the videos for it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aBA89KSpQM
1219. My Calm//Your Storm - Caedmon's Call
Originally released in 1994, My Calm//Your Storm was the first LP by Caedmon's Call. It started out as a demo cassette and was reissued twice, with different cover artwork each time. I'd never seen My Calm//Your Storm in our local Christian bookstores, but Lisa introduced me to it, so I played it in my car a decent amount. Maybe I should have called it My Car//Your Store. A few of the songs on it eventually appeared on their eponymous major-label debut three years later: "This World," "Not Enough," and "Coming Home." But two of the songs that didn't are among Lisa's top 10 tunes by Caedmon's Call: "All I Know" and "My Calm/Your Storm." Of the songs unique to this album, those two are my favorites as well, although there's something to be said for songs like "There's a Stirring," "Suicidal Stones," "Too Tender," and "Forget What You Know." Rounding out the ten tracks was "Jars of Clay," no relation to the band of the same name, who would release their own debut LP in 1995.