After reading John’s list of Top 10 songs, I was inspired. I was inspired by his openness and felt like I had gained a new and better understanding of him. This caused me to look back over the songs that have really spoken to me. I couldn’t do an injustice to what John had started and pick out rocking tunes I really love. I had to dig deeper and look for some tracks that really spoke to me for different reasons. Strangely enough, the list came together pretty quick. It’s fitting to me that nine out of ten of these songs are from the 90s. I love each of these songs for different reasons and I hold them near to my heart. I’m not trying to copy John, but I’m hoping to expand off of what he started. I see this as a way for you the readers to get to know us, the staff, in a little more personal way than just as music critics. It gives a different perspective on what our musical tastes are and shows where we’ve come from and where we are. It was hard to leave a few songs off, but these songs certainly speak to me more than any others.
1. Tomorrow’s Another Day – MxPx
This is my all-time favorite song by my all-time favorite band. Hands down; not even close. It was from their album, Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo, where they were a little more open about their faith. The lyrics in this song have stuck out to me since the first time I’ve heard them and they resonate still today: “Just know this that God is faithful even if you don’t have faith yourself. There’s nothing quite like being sure of what’s inside your heart…” It a great statement of God’s love for us despite our actions and the peace that He will bring us in knowing He is our Savior.
2. What if I Stumble – dcTalk
The first CD I ever owned as a teenager was dcTalk’s Jesus Freak. The album literally changed my life. I was already a Christian, but it gave me such a different perspective on life and more specifically, music. I credit this album to my current love (borderline obsession) of music today. With an album full of classics this song stands out to me from the opening line, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle…” The song speaks to me personally as a Christian who has indeed stumbled and fallen flat on my face. I’ve embarrassed God and embarrassed myself so many times. This song has always served as a reminder of my shortcomings, God’s love, and an inspiration to grow my walk and try to reach others by both my words and my lifestyle. This is definitely a life song for me.
3. Rest Easy – Audio Adrenaline
I don’t think any Christian music fan in the 90’s can make a Top 10 list and not include an Audio Adrenaline song. “Rest Easy” is probably my favorite Audio A song and definitely speaks to me on a personal level more than any other. I tend to be a worrier and, at times, I let fear eat me up inside. In the verses Mark tells of his faults, which feel like they came out of my life (especially now) and in the chorus he gives God’s response. I talk a big game in person, but the bridge really sums me up: “I am not a bold man even though I want to be. I am just a dreamer with a timid history. I’m scared of confrontation; I fume all through the night. The world has its hold on me and I just want to fly.” I thank God that He will take my burden and in return give me His grace.
4. Much Afraid – Jars of Clay
Can you sense a pattern? Not just that I was, and am still, a fan of the “big 3”, but that this is the second song circling around fear. On top of being one of my favorite songs from that album musically, again lyrically it felt like Dan wrote the song for me. Obviously he didn’t, but when he sings, “…Of all of these things I’m so much afraid. Scared out of my mind by the demons I’ve made. Sweet, Jesus, You’ll never let me… Let me go.” It seems the screw ups and mistakes you make in life manage to stick in your head even though God has forgotten them after you’ve asked forgiveness. I guess it’s human nature to fear further failure, or that the demons of your past will come back to haunt you, but that’s still not a comforting notion. The only comfort I find with this fear I seem to share with Dan is that Jesus will always be there and won’t let go.
5. After the World – Disciple
After looking at my first few songs, this one may not seem to fit in. “Scars Remain” came out in November 2006; my daughter was born in June of 2007. I never really paid much attention to the song other than it being a “nice acoustic song” when I first got the record. I was still listening to it quite a bit as my daughter’s birth approached and then this song finally stuck out to me. It is written as a love song from our Heavenly Father to us, but I couldn’t help but draw similarity to the feelings I was already having for my daughter. “I’m the one that you’ve been looking for. I’m the one that you’ve been waiting for. I’ve had my eyes on you ever since you were born. I will love you after the rain falls down, I will love you after the sun goes out. I’ll have my eyes on you after the world is no more.” This song reminds me of my loving God and my daughter who I love more than I could have imagined. This song makes me cry to this day.
6. King of the Hill – Eli (often stylized “eLi”)
Not many folks I’ve run across really know who Eli is or about any of his songs. If you don’t know Eli, you need to stop reading this and listen to this song now. It’s so powerful and really gives you a picture of everything Christ gave up by dying on the cross. The lyrics start with an angry mob demanding the crucifixion of Jesus and take the viewpoint of our Messiah. The first two verses are a great reminder of the crucifixion, but the third verse gives you a perspective that so many ignore. “Well I could’ve had servants and I could’ve ruled this world as their king. And I could’ve had wealth beyond measure. I could’ve had anything, but it wouldn’t have meant anything.” These seem to be the final thoughts of Christ before he cried out to God before his death. The human side of Jesus had to have this temptation present, but instead of calling out to his Father to save him, or stepping right off the cross on his own, he willingly gave up his life. This song is another tear jerker for me and I still hold it near to my heart.
7. Strength – Seven Day Jesus
Seven Day Jesus’ The Hunger… What a great album! “Strength” stood out for me on this album from the first listen and is still my favorite song. Although the song is entitled “Strength”, it too deals with fearful behavior. “In my eyes I see a blur of things that others see so clearly. In my strength I run away from things that cause me heart to fear. Back and forth and back again to the place where I began. Maybe I’m making this much harder than it is.” In the lyrics, he mocks his “strength” and says it’s what causes him to run. I’ve found this to be all too true in my life. The minute I think I’m strong enough to handle things on my own is the minute I fail. The strength of God is the only thing that can hold us up and I definitely make thing much harder than they need to be every time I try to pick them up again on my own.
8. Found Someone – Shaded Red
Looking at these songs after I selected them tells me something about myself. Wow… This song, from a band whose time was much too short, continues the theme. The verse starts, “Didn’t I swear I’d be there? Didn’t I make you this promise to hold you tight forever and ever?“, and continues, “Yet I fell apart and my world crashed down. I was sinkin’ fast ’till I felt true love.” Again I find myself relating so much to a song of human failure with a loving God holding true to his promise to be there. The lyrics speak further of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, but the final line in the chorus sum on the solution: “It’s Your love that makes it right.”
9. Grace My Life – Grover Levy
This is another gentleman that no one seems to know and it’s so unfortunate. The verses of this song are in a similar fashion to some of the previous. Human failure… Levy starts, “I must confess the obvious seldom occurs to me. I make a mess then I’m the first to deny and the last to see“, but the chorus is so hopeful to me. “I have a hope that’s everlasting; I have a peace of mind. Lord, I am loving how Your love becomes me. Amazed at how Your grace me life.” Despite the mess I make, God is there to love me, but even more so than that his love becomes me. If we allow Him to, God will grace our life in such a way where His love shines through us. This is a type of honest worship song to me. It doesn’t shy away from admitting failure, but quickly points to Christ as the answer. I’ve loved this song for years.
10. Goodbye – Plankeye
Finally a change of pace! This is Plankeye after Scott Siletta, but it is good nonetheless. I remember watching this video (which featured Eric Balmer and Luis Garcia in a hospital elevator – possibly as angels – as people come in and out dealing with death) as a teenager and thinking it was pretty neat. I actually bought the album because of this song and video. I liked the album, but it didn’t take long for it to end up deep in my collection to be forgotten. My grandfather who I was very close with died in 2008. My grandmother, his wife, died three years later. For some reason I grabbed Relocation out the pile a few days after my grandmother’s passing. I wasn’t thinking about this song, but something had sparked my interest in Plankeye again. When this song started playing, the lyrics hit my like a ton of bricks. The second verse and chorus especially did as they say, “Now all that’s left are pictures on the walls. Memories and stories that are told; the more often told the bigger they get. Create a legacy lest we forget. – Goodbye, goodbye. Walk away it’s time to say goodbye, goodbye. Walk away it’s hard to say goodbye.” This is a difficult song to listen to with the newer added meaning over the past few years, but the lyrics in the bridge bring the hope I need when I’m missing my loved ones, “Halfway there but He always fills my cup and He lifts me up; oh how He lifts me up.”
— Michael Weaver