Thanks to AudioGalaxy and some nostalgia, I’ve been enjoying some formative music from an important period of my life. My spiritual pilgrimage began in earnest in 1982, and for better or worse, I was introduced to the evangelical subculture with which I’ve had such a complicated relationship. My musical taste around this time was clearly punk and new wave, but there was a lot of compelling music being made by Christians that fell way outside my usual genre boundaries. Luckily for me, this music broke through my snobbery and became very important to me. A lot of these recordings are out of print now, or at least hard to find on CD. Thank God for file sharing!
- Daniel Amos are still making music today. Not the name of a person, but a group, DA were one of the most influential bands from this period. Able to span genres effortlessly (they began as a country band and became celebrated as an alternative band!), they produced three albums (The “Alarma” Chronicles) that still hold up today. Satirizing everything, these songs still move me because they are honest, humble, and always looking for truth, which makes a pretty good creed to live by. Good songs: Faces to the Window, Through the Speakers.
- Larry Norman was one of the original “Jesus freaks” from the 60s, although he made most of his music in the 70s. Hippy music like his was still alive in the church in the 80s, along with other discredited 70s pastimes like roller-skating, but I always liked the combination of apocalypse and hope in his songs. Good songs: Six-Sixty-Six (covered recently by Frank Black), I Love You.
- Andrae Crouch is a man who combined traditional Gospel music with funk and R&B and made it appeal to both white and black listeners. If it weren’t for Andrae, I might not be listening to Prince and Stevie Wonder today. Good songs: All the Way, Finally.
The whole “Contemporary Christian Music” thing is a bit silly to me, but despite that, these musicians were trying to do much more than just entertain Christians. Their music helps me remember who I was, who I am, and who I want to become.