1. “The Outlaw” by Larry Norman
This is a classic Norman song. The song is a unique contemporary play on Jesus’ question recorded in Matthew 16:13-20, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” In troubadour fashion, Norman explores the various labels that people apply to Jesus. The song has no chorus but builds to the final categorical understanding of Jesus, “Some say he was the Son of God.” A timeless tune.
2. “Open Up” by The Brilliance
The Brilliance are a unique worship duo, whose music features a general emphasis on concern for justice, love of the poor, and demonstrating the love of God to others. This particular song is featured on their first Advent album, but its a song for all seasons. The lyrics plead for God’s help in loving others. The duo compellingly sing:
Make me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sew love
Where there is darkness let me shine light and
May Your love cause us to open up
The song is always convicting when I listen to it.
3. “Tangled Up in Blue” by Bob Dylan
This is one of Dylan’s most respected tracks. It is a true creative experiment, messing with the lyrical sense of time. The song explores a relationship through first and third person, moving seamlessly between past, present, and future; a sort of musical Faulkner. It is a captivating song with a truly unique lyrical style and Dylan’s much beloved folk style.
4. “Light Up Ahead” by Further Seems Forever
This was the most popular single off of the band’s third studio release Hide Nothing (2004). The song is about finding hope in the midst of darkness and despair. The song has a unique meaning now in light of their former lead singer John Bunch’s suicide. “There’s a light up ahead,” the song rejoices. In the midst of his depression Bunch’s faith kept him pushing on. The hopefulness of the song is not loss in light of his death – depression is really a monster.
5. “Turn off that Radio” by Fanmail
Scott Silleta, the band’s frontman, was one of my rock n’roll heroes when I was in high school. I was pretty much obsessed with him for a while. So, when he left the Christian rock band Plankeye and started a pop-punk band I followed right along. Fanmail was, admittedly, not great but Silletta’s inclusion had me hooked. This song from their first album The Latest Craze (1999) is fairly pointless in lyrical content, with the chorus simply repeating “turn off that radio” over and over again. For whatever reason, however, is stuck with me this week and was a good, fun, blast.