This one is purely for fun. In 1985, in response to Band Aid and the gathering of secular artists around a cause, Steve Camp gathered upward to 90 Christian musicians to form the C.A.U.S.E (Christian Artists United to Save the Earth). They recorded the song, Do Something Now, and the accompanying video below. This video is essentially the who’s who of 80’s Christian music. Take a minute to watch the video and see how many you recognize.
Count how many you can name, and use the chart below to see how well you know 80’s Christian music. I will post the full list of everyone in the video at the bottom of this post.
In the 80’s, as we know, video killed the radio star, and secular music set the trend that Christian music slowly followed. There were two reasons why Christian music was slow to begin producing quality music videos. First, there were budget issues. Producing an album in the 80’s cost tens of thousands of dollars. The technology was not as readily available as it is today, and this applied to video production as well. The second reason CCM was slow to catch on to the music video trend was, even if you could afford to produce a video, who was going to play it? Eventually, however, it began to happen, Christians started making music videos that caught our attention.
Today, I want to countdown 10 Christian music videos that made an impact. Since this is a CCM backbeat, we will not be looking at current CCM artist. This list will only contain music from the 1980’s through the early 2000’s. I do have one entry in here a recent at 2008, but that is an exception. No, there will not be any Carman videos in this list. Though many of his videos are notable, Carman deserves a CCM Backbeat of his own. He is the Nickleback of Christian music, or should I say, Nickleback is the Carman of secular music. Carman is the artist Christians love to hate, some of it is deserved, and some of it is not. We will explore that topic another time.
With all of the preliminaries out of the way, here are the top 10 music videos that made us sit up and take notice.
10. Two Sets of Jones’ – Big Tent Revival (1995)
In the mid-90’s, Big Tent Revival gave us a powerful song that reminded us that the possession of the world are not the not the key to happiness. This video, filmed as a home movie, resonates with most of us even if it may be a bit overstated. Rewatching this video brings back memories of when my wife and I were a young married couple setting out on the adventure called life. It was at that point we needed a foundation upon which to build our life together. This song still has the power to bring us back to that reality. Our hope is found in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and his righteousness.
9. Supertones Strike Back – O.C. Supertones (2002)
Unless you lived in Orange County, CA, this video may have seemed to come out of nowhere. Interesting story, in Orange County, several Christian bookstores actually held release parties at midnight when this sophomore album released, and the lines wrapped around the building. A friend of mine hosted one such party. He was amazed when I told him my experience of trying to buy the album.
I was traveling in Texas the day the album released. I went to one of the largest Christian bookstores I had ever seen to pick up a copy. I walked in, and it was nowhere to be found. So I found a worker and asked them if they had it. He said he had never heard of them, but he would check the back. Sure enough, they were still in a box in the back.
It would not be long before they knew of this band because this song and video travelled fast. It even saw crossover success finding play on a few secular stations. The world was learning that ska was cool (well, at least for a few years), and Christian music had one of the best bands.
8. Cash Cow – Steve Taylor (1993)
After a few year away from CCM with a secular band called Chagall Guevara, Steve Taylor came home with a new album called Squint in 1993 which was nothing less than brilliant. Along with the album came a VHS release of videos for each song, and Cash Cow was a standout; a rock opera in three acts.
Capturing the mood of early 90’s alternative rock, this dark and foreboding video gave us a glimpse of the insidious nature of the love of money with stop-motion claymation. With lyrics as you see below, you know you are in for quite a ride. Beware, the cash cow lurks.
It glistened, it glowed, it rose from the gold of the children of Israel (and most of the adults) The Cash Cow The golden Cash Cow had a body like the great cows of ancient Egypt And a face like the face of Robert Tilton (without the horns) … If you blow off this warning, perhaps you’ve already been licked
7. Shine – Newsboys (1994)
The newsboys had been slowly gaining popularity. Their album Not Ashamed received quite a bit of recognition, but the release of the album Going Public put them on the trajectory to become one of CCM’s most loved bands. This quirky video perfectly captured this oddly fun song, and made us all want to Shine.
6. In the Valley of the Dying Sun – House of Heroes (2008)
This will be the most recent entry on this list. For CCM Backbeat, I usually do not talk about music this current, but some of the best Christian music is often music that Christian radio never played and many Christians have never heard. The same goes for Christian music videos. This video did receive play on several college markets, but it seemed to be largely ignored by Christian outlets.
Though not overtly Christian, this song and video hit hard, and through it we learned that House of Heroes could make seriously good music and videos as well. I will leave the rest for you to experience, but the song comes to a climax with these lines:
All through the night I wrestled the angel To undo the curse That’s burdened me all of my life And for the first time I could see That God was not my enemy “I’m thinking of you” Like pieces of the sun Our light burns on and on and on Like stars in the night sky we shine I’m living to shine on
5. Jesus is Just Alright – D.C. Talk (1992)
Let’s be honest, there is no way you can have a CCM backbeat on music videos without mentioning D.C. Talk, but you probably expected Jesus Freak or some later offering. Though Jesus Freak, and several that followed, perfectly captured the zeitgeist of 90s music, this was this video that made us all realise that these guys were not going away, and they were only getting better. You have to admit, this song still rocks, and this video still makes you want to get up and dance. It was this video that set the stage for many great videos that followed.
4. 666 – DeGarmo & Key (1984)
Regardless of whether or not your agree with the dispensational theology that undergirds this song, it deserves to be on the list for two reasons. First, the end times where on everyone’s mind in the 70s and 80s, and second, this is one of the first Christian music videos with production quality rivaling some of what was being played on MTV. This is actually the second version of this video. In the original, the beast is consumed in flames, and MTV said it was too much, so D & K toned it down to what you see here.
One top of all of that, there is an aspect of this song that is still relevant today. It may be sooner than we think when we will have to either deny some aspect of our faith or face arrest.
3. Mercy Mercy -77’s (1982)
Though this video never gained huge popularity with the evangelical crowd, due to misunderstanding the darkness of the video, not to mention the eye shadow, this song makes the list because it is one of the first Christian videos to make it into the rotation of a relatively new TV station called MTV. In the end, we are all sinful creatures with sinful natures that tempt us away from the Lord. We are destined for wrath unless the Lord has mercy on us.
I was wallowing In a pit of snakes They come crawling Up around my legs Now, I despise them But I know If they hypnotize me Down, down I go
Then I say, Lord Have mercy on me I say, Lord Have mercy
2. Know Me (Huh, What?) – The Cross Movement (1999)
This video reminded us, once again, that true hip hop can be theologically rich and make a statement at the same time. Who has not watched an awards show when a musician or actor thanks Jesus for some profane song or movie? For every one of those facepalm moments, this video is for you. Not much else needs to be said about this video. It speaks for itself. We all need to examine ourselves to see that we are in the faith.
1. Meltdown at Madame Tussauds- Steve Taylor (1984)
This is the second entry by Steve Taylor on this list, but he has earned it. The year is 1984, Christians are beginning to have some music and videos that are not behind the times, and we know it because of Meltdown. The moment the video starts, and you see Blair (Lisa Whelchel) from the sitcom The Facts of Life when it was at the height of its popularity, you know you are in for something good. This was not a sub-par offering. The video then proceeds to use the fire that destroyed the wax figures at Madame Tussauds wax museum as a metaphor for hell and so much more. The whole video comes to a point with these poignant lyrics:
“Celebrity status only got in the way Had my hands in my pockets on the Judgment Day You can’t take it with you, there’s fire in the hole Had the world by the tail but I lost my soul”
What do you think of this list? Are there videos you would have included? Let us know in the comments below.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, one thing I appreciate about early contemporary Christian music is that it was not afraid to take a stand on issues, and it made no exception to that rule when it came to the evils of abortion. The good news with this topic is that several of today’s Christian artists have continued in the trend.
Let’s take a look at a few of the songs of the recent past that tackled this topic. If you will remember, Roe v. Wade passed in 1973, and what is disappointing is that we do not see really any songs in the 70’s on this topic. Part of this was due to the fact that CCM was still trying to find its footing. In the 80s and 90s, however, we see several artists make contributions to the cause. As you will see, some of the songs stand the test of time, and others, not so much.
In 1980 Phil Keaggy kicked us off with a song called, Little Ones.
Who will speak up for the little ones? Helpless and half-abandoned. They’ve got the right to choose life They don’t want to lose, I’ve got to speak up, won’t you?
Equal rights, equal time, for the unborn children. Their precious lives are on the line, How can we be rid of them? Passing laws, passing out Bills and new amendments. Pay the cost and turn about, And face the young defendants.
In 1981, Andrae Crouch came out with a hard hitting song called I’ll Be Good to You Baby.
You are becoming an endangered species They think more of the fishes in the sea And you already out number the great Holocaust And nobody’s even weeping your loss Cause you never saw the light of day (you never saw the light of day) And you never heard a robin sing (you never heard a robin sing) And you never took a ride on a merry-go-round Cause somebody came and cut you down.
Now for three of my favorites. In the 1983 Steve Taylor took on several topics in his song Whatever Happened to Sin.
A Christian counselor wrote, quote, “It’s the only human choice ahead If you can’t support it Why don’t you abort it instead?” You say you pray to the sky Why? when you’re afraid to take a stand down here ‘Cause while the holy talk reads like a bad ad-lib Silence screams you were robbing the crib Say it ain’t none of my business, huh? A woman’s got a right to choose Now a grave-digger Next you pull the trigger What then? Whatever happened to sin?
In 1984, the 77’s, featuring the ever-talented Michael Roe, released the album All Fall Down. This album received critical acclaim with the hit single Mercy Mercy making it into rotation on a fairly new music channel called Mtv. This was back when Mtv played music videos. Even with this crossover success, they were not afraid to let the world know of their pro-life views with the song Your Pretty Baby.
You couldn’t bear this thing To save your life Suppose you start to show
So you call the doctor But who’s gonna nurse away The little voice inside when it cries You’ll curse this day
The final song I will highlight from the 80s is, once again, from the unparalleled Steve Taylor called I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good (1987). This song got him into some trouble with several Christian retailers because, as the Babylon Bee as proven to the world over and over again, many people do not understand satire.
In this song, Taylor sings from the perspective of an ice cream truck driver who is afraid, if abortion continues, he will be out of a job because there will be no more kids. Due to this fear, he decides to blow up an abortion clinic. However, the entire point of the song is found in a line from a preacher on a corner who calls it a crime and says “The end don’t justify the means anytime.”
This one is worthy of posting the full lyrics.
I have the road in my blood I drive a custom van I play the tunes I’m the neighborhood ice cream man so don’t you mess this boy around
The other day, when the clinic had its local debut some chicks were trying to picket the doctor threatened to sue
Now I don’t care if it’s a baby or a tissue blob but if we run out of youngsters I’ll be out of a job, and so I I did my duty cleaning up the neighborhood I blew up the clinic real good
Try and catch me, coppers you stinking badges better think again before you mess this boy around
I’ve hung in Saigon just to see the special effects I’ve hung from gravity boots for my Napoleon complex
It’s time to close ooh…there she blows history in the making you picked the fight I picked dynamite I blew up the clinic real good
Preacher on a corner calling it a crime says, “The end don’t justify the means anytime” I stood up on my van I yelled, “Excuse me, sir. Ain’t nothing wrong with this country that a few plastic explosives won’t cure.”
A miracle of God Now looked on as a choice It’s time for all His children To unify a voice With influence in our numbers And power in out prayer We must defend the children And fight for what is fair What appears to be an upset Can change its ugly course And we can do it all Through Jesus Christ our Lord
The final song I will highlight is Steve Green’s Roses (1998). In this song, he encourages us to make the right choice.
In closing, I don’t think it would be right to end this post without a nod to Matthew West who continues to carry the torch.
May we continue to stand for the most vulnerable among us. Let us never forget, however, that as we do, these artists all had several other songs presenting the gospel because there is forgiveness for sin in Jesus, and the sin of abortion is no exception.
Are there any other Christian songs you remember that dealt with abortion? Let me know in the comments.
Many people are familiar with the music of Dion (DiMucci) even if they do not realize it. In the early 60’s he had a several rock hits. Two of his biggest were, Runaround Sue andThe Wanderer. These songs made him a household name during this time, and in 1989 he was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame.
What many people do not know is that, similar to Bob Dylan, B.J. Thomas, and Kanye West, he later professed faith in Jesus and released a couple of CCM albums. Today, I want to take a look at his 1983 album, I Put Away My Idols. My hope is that, for those who remember it, it will be an enjoyable trip down memory lane, and for those of you not familiar with the album, that it will be an introduction worthy of your time. To do this, I would like to highlight four songs off the album. The lyrics for several of his Christian songs are not available online, so I hope to correct that on the last two songs we look at as well.
I Put Away My Idols
Let’s start with the title track, I Put Away My Idols. Much of the album has a similar upbeat rock feel like his earlier secular work, and this song is no exception. If you have heard any songs from this album, it would be this one.
I will not include all of the lyrics here since they are in the video, but I always enjoy songs that give us a glimpse into someone’s conversion story, and this song does just that.
I was living by my horoscope Taking pills to cope With my pain Rock and roll was my identity My whole security I made a name
He even gives a nod to Romans where we are told that the natural man serves the creation rather than the Creator.
Looking back over my years My story did unfold I worshipped people and their gifts Not the gift giver at all
But in the end, he hears the voice of the Shepherd.
Truly from above I heard a friend Truly now you must be born again I put away my idols I stripped away all the titles Money wrinkles and things do decay I put away my idols
They Won’t Tell You
Another favorite song of mine on this album is one which takes on the vanity of so much television programming. It was true in the 1980’s, and it is even more true today’ They Won’t Tell You.
Here are the lyrics. It is also a fun trip down 80’s TV memory lane.
Good morning America glad to tune you in Days of our lives It ran right to the end For your morning excitement You’ll catch The Price is Right Your midday romance You’ll find on The Edge of Night
And we’ll take a pause to tell you what you need To get through The Days of our Lives and to succeed A pill for pain, some soap to clean you up A brand new car and some coffee to fill your cup
But they won’t tell you what you need to know (They won’t tell you) Jesus paid the price to free your soul (Jesus freed you) The TV keeps you strung out on the pages of this world While the radio keeps you hooked on the rock n roll
I tell you, It don’t make no sense at all But it’s been that way ever since the fall Powers of darkness tryin’ to do you in Drivin’ you deeper and deeper into your sin
Now it’s time to turn on the evenin’ news But I’d rather hear Muddy Waters sing the blues You’ve gotta keep up to know what’s goin’ down Who’s winnin’ and losin’, which side’s gainin’ ground
A little bit later we’ll turn on some comic relief Hah, somethin’ funny to make you show your teeth A Fantasy Island to help you get away A celebrity show to see what they got to say
But you won’t find it on the Johnny Carson show (They won’t tell you) And Norman Lear won’t put you in the know (Jesus freed you) Archie Bunker, he will say goodbye when the season ends But Jesus will always be your friend
I tell you, There’s just one way to go Turn on your life, turn off the picture show Stand in the love and the light of reality Accept Him as Lord and He will set you free
But you won’t find it in the People magazine (They won’t tell you) The Truth, the Life, the One who makes you clean (Jesus freed you) Charlie’s Angels cannot save you From the darkness in this world Barnaby Jones, he cannot clue you in
I’ll tell you, They won’t tell you what you need to know (They won’t tell you) Jesus paid the price to free your soul (Jesus freed you) TV keeps you strung out on the pages of this world While the radio keeps you hooked on the rock n roll
Yeah, they won’t tell you (They won’t tell you) What you need to know (Jesus freed you) What you need to know
Give It Up and Surrender
Another toe-tapper on the album is called, Give It Up and Surrender. This song takes a look at the role of pride in the fall of Adam and Eve and in our lives as well.
Satan said, you can eat of the tree The fruit will open up your eyes Eve said that looks good to me I wanna be wise That is how all the trouble began As a matter of pride Man just had to have it his way And now he’s got to run and hide
Woah, Give it up and surrender Oh, give it up and be free Let that pride go and give up to God And repent of the tree
Yeah, God sent the Lord to help us along So that we might understand Just exactly how to know right from wrong And the weakness of man But still we turn our backs and run from it all As a matter of pride And when we do, we stumble and fall This could be a long hard ride
Woah, give it up and surrender Yeah, give it up and be free Let that pride go and give up to God Give it up, give it up, be free Let it go
Ah, now we get to the back of the book As we run God’s patience to the end But still he’s just and he’s true to His word His only Son He did send
Aw, but still we go against the will of the Lord In so much that we do But still His love and His mercy does a part Salvation for me and you
I said, give it up and surrender Give it up and be free Let that pride go and give up to God And repent of the tree (repeat)
Give it up and be free
Trust in the Lord
The final song I want to highlight is Trust in the Lord because, in the end, that is exactly what we need to do. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. What I like about this song, is how much of it is scripture set to music.
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding Acknowledge the Lord in all of your ways And He will make your path straight (Repeat)
Jonah got along in the belly of whale Daniel in the lion’s den I know a man who lived on faith to the very end
Now the good book says that without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe
You see, you trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding Acknowledge the Lord in all of your ways And He will make your path straight
Against all hope, father Abraham In hope he did believe God calls things that are not as though they were
Oh, now God said it, I believe it And that is good enough for me We do walk by faith and not by what we see
You see we trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding Acknowledge the Lord in all of your ways And He will make your path straight
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and it is certain of what we do not see Faith it surely comes by hearing the word of God you see God you see
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding Acknowledge the Lord in all of your ways And He will make your path straight (Repeat)
If you would like to listen to the album in its entirety, you can do so for free as a YouTube playlist here. Of course, nothing beats pulling a 12 inch vinyl record out of its sleeve and giving it a spin.
What about you? Do you have any memories of this album, or did you see Dion perform any of these songs in concert? Are there any other albums you would like to see highlighted as part of the CCM Backbeat? Let me know in the comments.