The Jacob's Trouble Video Archives

Friday, March 03, 2017

All JT songs ranked by the fans!

Greg Flesch was in doing some guitar work on the record Knock, Breathe, Shine and kept playing this obnoxious heavy metal lick just to annoy Terry. Terry pretended to pull out a gun and shoot him. Somebody suggested we record it and add the sound of the gun shot so we did. It was just one of those crazy things you do when you are locked in a studio for weeks and start to go a little stir crazy.


"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - Matthew 28:19-20

“Now I'm not trying to shove it down your throat
'Cause after all, we're all in the same boat”

"One of the great lost gems from the same sessions that yielded 'About Sex' and 'Let It Rain'. Believe it or not, we were thinking Elvis Costello when we did this one. 'Cosmic' was intended for KNOCK, BREATHE, SHINE but was dropped due to some concern over the melody in the chorus being the same as in the verses. We always thought this one deserved to be on a record, so much so that we considered recording it again for "...let the truth run wild!" But by that time, we already had too many songs and not enough time, so it got the axe again. Only a handful of family, friends, and proud owners of the ultra-rare cassette-only release, The Songbird Sessions, have ever heard it until its release on the 1994 compilation CD, “Diggin’ Up Bones.”

"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
- 1 Corinthians 6: 18-20.

We had demoed the song, “About Sex”, intending it for Knock, Breathe, Shine, but Terry declined to produce it. Unfortunately Frontline had their hearts set on including it so Terry and the band created this song literally from thin air, and called it “About Sex (Part II).

I already mentioned the tension and conflict which swirled around our original demo for About Sex. This song came about as Terry’s effort to appease the powers that be at Frontline. They had their heart set on About Sex being on the record and Terry had his mind made up that it would only be on the CD over his cold, dead body. So Terry came up with a plan to have a song called About Sex on the record that was not our song About Sex.

He sent me into the drum booth and I sat down behind the kit. “Start playing,” he said over the talk back in my headphones. “What do you want me to play?” I asked. “Anything,” he said. “Just play and I’ll tell you when to stop.” So I did. That’s the drums you hear on this song.

After that he sent Mark and Steve in respectively and told them what to play over my drum track. They pounded away and when they were done, they came out and sat down next to me looking just as confused as I probably looked at that moment. Terry then began to feverishly construct what became About Sex Part II literally ex nihilo. He put in a call to Frontline’s offices and had some guy there start looking up statistics on divorce, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. I think it’s the same guy who researched all that stuff who drove over to the studio and read it into the microphone!

By this time, we felt a little like our record had been hijacked. The recording continued without us. I think we wandered off into the next room and played golf on the Nintendo. Terry brought in Dan Michaels of the Choir to play some terrific saxophone stuff. Greg Flesch came in and was amazing on lead guitar, as usual. The preacher’s voice is from an old cassette Terry had of Jimmy Swaggart losing his mind and screaming about sex in pretty graphic detail. All the vocals were Terry and guys from DA or the Eddies. Other than the initial drums, bass, and acoustic guitar that we played without even knowing what we were doing, we had absolutely nothing to do with the song.

Please don’t get me wrong; I am not slamming Terry. He did an amazing job assembling this complex and riveting track literally from nothing right there on the spot. It’s a tribute to his genius, no question. It jus wasn’t us. It didn’t sound like us. It didn’t feel like us. It didn’t flow with the rest of the record. It was purely politics resulting from a producer being pressured by a record label.

48. Icicle Face
"...I am sure there is a common spirit that plays within us... the Spirit of God, the fire and scintillation of that noble and mighty essence, which is the life and radical heat of spirits... Whosoever feels not the warm gale and gentle ventilation of this Spirit, though I feel his pulse, I dare not say he lives..."
- Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici

“It's a cold, cruel, difficult world for the little things, the simple things 
And you don't have to hate yourself
There's Someone above you, Someone who loves you true”

I had the idea for this song when I was working at the Record Bar in the local mall. On the weekends the place was crawling with these teenage goth kids all dressed in blacks and grays with piercing in every imaginable orifice. The would wear this pancake white makeup to make themselves look really pale and then wear black lipstick and tons of eyeliner to stand out against the albino skin.

The saddest part was their passionate commitment to despair. It became something of a game for me to try to make them laugh or smile whenever they were in the store. Once they smiled it immediately revealed how ridiculous the whole fa├žade was. A laughing goth kid was really little more than a failed mime.

I tried to share the gospel with as many as would listen and turned a few of them on to some of the better alternative Christian bands of the day. But for the most part they seemed to enjoy staying depressed.

Musically, I was aiming for something like XTC from their Black Sea record. I was a huge XTC fan and even considered the idea of covering “Respectable Street” in our live shows. I expressed this to Mark Heard but somewhere along the way it lost some of the punch and ended up this thin, wispy little filler track. I had much higher hopes for it, like just about every other song on this album.

I think we only played this song live twice: once at the CD release party and once at Atlanta Fest ’93.

47. Mr. Hitler
"Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him" -1 John 3: 15

"As it is written: 'There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.'" - Romans 3: 10-12

I'm an ordinary man, I believe in wrong and right
If it were up to me I would have them shot on sight!

This song was just plain fun to record. I was in my element completely. It was kind of a Magical Mystery Tour vibe ala “I Am The Walrus.” It was fun to hear all the elements come together.

When I originally wrote “Mr. Hitler” it used to say, “I’m a little Hitler.” Terry re-wrote the chorus to say “They call me Mr. Hitler.” He kept my first two verses in tact but re-wrote the third verse that dealt with religion. 

I wanted to show that everyone was capable of evil given the right circumstances, even everyday ordinary situations like work and traffic and religion. This guy was supposed to be an everyman kind of a guy, revealing his evil heart in everyday situations we all deal with. I was hoping the listener would feel, “Wow, I could be just as evil as that guy if I don’t guard my heart.”

Let me go on record as saying this: Whatever decisions Terry made, he made in our best interest. And the result was arguably our finest moment. Many critics and fans alike regard Knock Breathe Shine as our best record. Mark, Ty and David from Third Day all list it on their website as one of their most influential CDs. And we all know they certainly like “These Thousand Hills!”

46. Step By Step
In 1998 I was contacted by Kent Songer, a good friend and former Frontline employee who had been a huge JT supporter back in the day. He now worked for the Killen Music Group who had procured possession of all things Frontline, including our entire catalog. Kent told me that KMG wanted to put together a “greatest hits” package of Jacob’s Trouble “hits.” He asked me if I would drive up to Nashville and be a part of the song selection process. “Absolutely!” I said.

I don’t remember how it all went down – it’s a blur to me now – but I somehow managed to talk him into letting us record a new song. I was still in touch with the fellas, who were now touring and recording as Janah, and rang them up to see if they were interested. Kent warned me not to go to too much trouble or expense. I think he knew they were not planning on promoting it. At all. And they didn’t. At all.

I had previously written and recorded a post-JT solo demo of a song called “Sycamore.” The other guys were all fully involved in Janah and there wasn't time to write a new song, so I proposed we re-record “Sycamore” as a JT song. They agreed and we commenced recording. Basically, the three of them got together and came up with an arrangement and recorded it without me. I came in later and added my vocals. Not really a group effort exactly but the results were better than I think we had a right to expect at the time. I think we renamed it “Step by Step” because Ron’s recording studio was called Sycamore Recording and I guess he didn't want there to be any confusion between Janah and JT. 

The song itself is about the aching desire to know God, to get a good look at Christ and in Him see the God our hearts have been yearning for since Eden. I love the lyric “Grace is a haze in the view from way down here/I want to climb ‘til I clear the atmosphere/In the wild blue I will meet You.” Regardless of what some theologians say about Total Depravity, I do believe that all people everywhere worship and long for God, they just don’t know what to call it or where to find satisfaction so they worship anything they think will give them what they are looking for. The scripture says of God, “You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” That is what “Step By Step” is about: capturing that longing to be fully satisfied in Christ.

45. All For You
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
- 2 Corinthians 5:21

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." - Acts 4:12

It's not a game of win or lose,
Who you portray or who you choose

The fact won't change if you don't decide
Because a Man of Love was still crucified

All For You was, I think, the third song I had ever written. The title came from a phrase that was repeated on a spiritual retreat I had been on in February of 1989. That Christ had done all this for you. That He died a sinners death, but never sinned. That He paid a penalty unto death for me that I owed, and that helpless feeling of knowing I can't repay Him. All He asks in return is for us to repent and believe.

I was thinking how the world disregards the greatest plan of escape from total separation from God. Hebrews 2:3 "how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" I started writing down phrases about how I felt before I got saved. Kind of having a conversation between my saved self and my unsaved self. 

I don't think the song ever made it to demo form, the chords G Bm Am we're the basic structure of the song, our producer for the Door Into Summer album, Terry Taylor created the arrangement that was recorded. All the "George Harrison" sounding guitars were played by DA guitarist Greg Flesch. It wasn't how I imagined the song should sound but it turned out being well recorded and fit well on side two.

44. If You Believe (Bones)
"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you belive and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." - Romans 10:9-10

Don't wait to find it on your own
Begin a new way, trust someone

Who can give you a better way
A way that leads to better days

"This is how it all started. We recorded and mixed these first five songs in about three days at a little studio called Songbird in Atlanta. We only pressed 500 copies of this cassette-only release in November 1988 and sold them for $5.00 each at two of the four shows we played before we got a record deal. They go for upwards of $30-35 in some places, if you can find one. This is what Frontline heard when they first decided to sign us. And Mark got a job working at the studio as a result of these sessions, thus allowing us to record most of the tracks on this compilation. 

Mark brought this song in from a previous band. He had a demo of it with a guy named Bill Douglas singing lead, For you JT aficionados, Bill would later be a member of Janah with Keith, Ron and Steve. He even shared a co-writing credit on the original cassette EP. We pretty much just re-recorded that version for our demo with Mark singing. 

43. Days that Passed me By

A life of love can recognize the shadows of your heart
Substances of days that passed me by

Days That Passed Me By, was recorded in 1992 with Mark Heard as producer for the third album "...let the truth run wild". I was told a story about a group of fans who keep vigil day and night, 24 hours a day at the grave site of Jim Morrison. This person who told the story asked these kids what were they doing, we're they waiting for Him to come back?

I became a Christian when I was 21 years old and remember very well, how I was before I got saved. I was like everyone at that age, very idealistic and not very realistic. Anyway, the line "a lizard crawls along a weathered stone, a gathering of footsteps keeping eye" refers to that story, but also reminds me that I was just like that, wavering between two opinions.....thankfully those days are in the George Burns would say, "I'll never make the mistake of being 25 again!"

Musically, I had been listening to the Byrds "Younger Than Yesterday" especially the songs Chris Hillman had written with Clarence White on lead guitar. I had asked Mark Heard if we could get someone to play a solo in that style like Clarence White. He called his friend and songwriting legend Pat Terry to come by the studio and I watched as Mark and Pat put that solo together. The song is all of 2:10 with 1:00 being that solo! Outstanding!

42. Eden Again
Romans 5:12-21
"But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." - 1 Corinthians 15:20-22

It only took one single human to tear creation down down
A single man, his name is Jesus
Defeated death and turned the whole thing round

An early concert fave, this one was omitted from the first record for sounding "too much like U2". Ironically, "Waiting for the Son", which sounded even more like U2, was included on the record. See if you can guess who the cameos are and where they come from. First one to get them all right wins a dream date with Steve Atwell.

41. Just Like You
"I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." - Romans 7:18

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." - Romans 12:3

Now you're asking for my autograph and I just have to laugh
‘Cause I know what's behind the name
There's a heart so dark and wild, and a frightened little child
But I'll sign it for you just the same

Touring opened up a whole new perspective for me and it definitely affected my songwriting. It began to dawn on me just how much blind faith music fans in general (and Christian music fans in particular) put in their favorite artists. The other edge of this two-edged sword was the impossible standards of absolute moral perfection artists were held to. You could have a guy on stage who genuinely loves Jesus and is trying his best to write and record honest songs expressing his journey of faith, and in the audience would be a fan who condemned his eternal soul to hellfire because he overheard him say a “curse word,” all the while the fan ignores the poor, speaks harshly to his wife and kids, and treats his fellow coworkers like crap. It’s ludicrous!

As we began to play larger venues and festivals, I got very uncomfortable on the shaky pedestal we were being placed on. “Just Like You” is a plea to the listener to put their trust in the God who never fails them and not so much in the Christian singers and “celebrities” who inevitably would.

Musically, I had high hopes this would be a single. I originally wanted the opening guitars to be a little fuller with more distortion. Compromise is the name of the game in a band. That cool guitar riff Keith plays after the verses and at the end was something he used to play during sound checks. I asked him one day if that was a song he was working on. He said it was just something he came up with and didn’t have a place for. So we worked it in this song.


40. If You Believe (Door)
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." - Revelations 3:20

I wanna say everyday in every way what you mean to me

On our demo and in our concerts, it was the opening song. High energy, fast-paced, a crowd favorite. Terry slowed it down, and he didn’t like the structure of the verse. He thought it needed to be longer. So our homework assignment was to go back and write additional lyrics for it. 

39. ONFS
"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." - Psalm 127:3-5

There's a grand adventure there ahead of us
I can hardly wait to rediscover this old world
You can only see things for the first time once

And the razor edge of youth is all too quickly dulled

...for Erik and Kelsey

When my firstborn, Erik, was a baby, I didn’t know a whole lot of the kids songs and lullabies so ay bedtime I would sing to him things like “Young At Heart” by Sinatra and “Blackbird” by the Beatles, stuff like that. Also, I would make up songs. This song is the result of one of those homemade kids songs. This is probably one of the most personal songs I ever wrote with JT because it’s such an unfiltered inside glimpse into what God was stirring in me with the birth of my first kid. I actually wrote songs around the birth of all three of my kids but since I was no longer in JT by the time my other two were born, you will probably never hear them. (For any of you who actually heard the ultra-rare sideways8 CD, Uberpop!,  I recorded Whitney’s song, “What Will You Be?”)

The title is a reference to the seeming inevitability of a recording artist writing a song about becoming a parent. In my opinion, this track stands out as a gem if not for the sole fact that it actually turned out like I wanted. I am especially proud of the lyrics in the bridge: “You can only see things for the first time once/ and the razor edge of youth is all too quickly dulled.” I confess I stole the phrase “razor edge of youth” from Mike Nesmith’s classic unreleased Monkees song “Carlisle Wheeling.”

There is a 4-track demo of this song that Keith, Steve, and I recorded that didn’t make it onto Diggin’ Up Bones. The only real difference is that in the break between the first and second verses I inserted a simulated baby burp for comedic effect. We tried it in the Truth sessions for the CD, but it sounded silly and Mark Heard thought it better to leave it off. Also, the “Aw, shoot!” you hear in the timbale break is me actually expressing very real frustration at botching the part. It was very simple to play but I kept screwing it up to the point where I was getting mad at myself. We left it in because it made us all giggle. It really plays well with the theme of the song, embracing all the imperfections of becoming a first-time parent.

Nathan Fink, who plays Hammond organ on “Something Good Happens,” play s the marimba part. If memory serves me, I think Nathan was Ron’s brother-in-law. One good thing about recording in Atlanta was that we had access to all our friends in the local music scene to come play on the record.

38. Never Would Have Known
"What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory...?" - Romans 9:23

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." - Phillippians 3:10-11

Well I get down on my knees to see Your face
I listen for Your footsteps as You knock upon the door
As the line I draw between us disappears
Hand in hand we're walking side by side

Never Would Have Known, was another song from the third record. I have always been able to write best with a 12 string guitar, because the chords you can create have a bigger sound and have all these cool overtones. This was another of those fun, jangly songs that you can write, another one with that "sterling silver sound" that Jacob's Trouble was known for.

Romans 7:7, What should we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin if it were not for the law. For example, I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, Do not covet.

This was the idea I wanted to convey, that if I had continued in wavering between two opinions, I would never had known what sin was. It was because I could not measure up to God's standard did I finally realize my need for a Savior. None of us are exempt from our need for a Savior.

37. Morning Light
"For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." - Psalm 30: 5

I don't have to cry anymore
Tears will fall down but just for one night
I don't have to cry anymore
'Cause I know I'll be fine in the mornin' light

I was invited to join the band after the release of “Knock Breathe Shine”. The band had recently added Keith to flush out the live sound. After doing a number of opening dates as a three piece with Jerry singing lead from behind the kit they wanted to get him out front.

They did a short tour with another drummer, Matt Goldman, working as a ‘hired gun’ prior to bringing me in. But I had known the guys for years and they invited me in as a full member before we ever played a note together. 

We toured a lot. More than they had before and most people who saw the band live never knew that Jerry had once been trapped behind the kit. Like Phil Collins or Dave Grohl, Jerry was one of those few that made a very natural front man / lead singer. A great drummer too, one of my favorites. But JT would have never achieved the reputation of such an entertaining group without Jerry up front. Props brother!

As we began to prep for ‘Truth’, the 3rd JT record, the guys asked me to take a hand at bringing a song to the table. I had written and sung before in a few previous bands but never expected to write anything for JT. We already had the power house writing of Mark and Jerry. Then Keith started blowing us away with his stuff. So it was a little intimidating bringing my ideas. If one could even make such a comparison, we already had a Lennon/McCartney duo and a George Harrison. This was definitely a ‘Ringo’ situation.

Mark and I got together one evening at his place. I already had a basic structure, the chorus melody and a rough idea for a few lines. With me on a six string Mark picked up the Twelve string and came up with that great opening hook. At the time the main line of the chorus “ I don’t have to cry anymore” was just a place holder for some future brilliance I hoped would come. But as we worked thru it Mark got out his bible and flipped right to Psalms 30:5. (He was always good like that). So that became the permanent hook. I went home and the rest of the lyrics, melody and bridge wrote themselves. I was always a fan of cool country rock and considered this a fun little ditty. It had all my favorite elements of JT, jangling guitars, acoustic rhythms and great harmonies. 

No one was more surprised than I was when the label released Mornin’ Light as a single.

Over the years many people have shared how much the song meant to them. I never really liked singing lead and we only performed it live a few times. 

You never know what will happen when you throw Ringo a bone.


36. I’m a Little World
Genesis 1 through Revelations 22

Break, burn, heal and make me new again

John Donne’s influence is all over Knock Breathe Shine, as much as Terry’s or the Beatles’ or anybody’s. In fact, the title itself was taken from one of his sonnets, which we used as the basis for “I’m A Little World.” Donne’s passion for God, his desperate thirst for Him, runs all through the record. 

Of all the songs we wrote based on Donne’s Holy Sonnets, this is the only one where we took the actual lines from the poems. It’s also the song where we got the name of the album.

This is pretty much Terry’s brainchild from start to finish; musically, lyrically, and in the studio. Dan Michaels from the Choir plays saxophone. 

35. Let Me Love on You
"Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame." - Song of Solomon 8:6

"I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD." - Hosea 2:19-20

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" - Luke 13:34

I sent you poets, baby, to pen sweet lines of love
I left a million undiscovered clues
I sent you prophets, lady, to beg you, "Please come home"
They all came back bloody, beaten and abused 
Let me love on you

We were big fans of the TV show Twin Peaks around the time we made this CD. This song was an attempt to emulate that low, baritone guitar sound that was so prevalent in the music from that show by the great Angelo Badalmenti.

Some folks expressed some confusion about what the title line in the chorus meant. “loving on” someone is a Southern expression meaning to show affection and intimacy towards someone. A Southern mom might say to her children, “C’mere and let momma love on you a little bit!” and then wrap them up in a big embrace.

I wanted to pull back the veil and explore what I believed God’s heart is towards us. Over and over again, the scripture echoes His desire to be “among” us and “in our midst.” Revelation 21 records that the signature mark of the new earth will be that the dwelling place of God would be physically and literally with us. God would no longer seem a distant shadow or whisper barely heard. We will see Him up close and personal. His presence will no longer be something we sense or feel; He will be among us as our God and we will be with Him as His people.

I’m not sure if it worked in the context of the darker, somber quality of the music. It seems kinda juxtaposed now but it worked for us at the time. It seemed a great way to close out the record. Little did we know we were pretty much closing out our career together as a band with that track.


34. Wounded World
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." –Matthew 5: 13-16

"God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." – Psalm 53: 2-3

"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." - Romans 8:22

We sting like salt in the wounds of a wounded world

I had the opening riff rolling around in my head for months before I wrote the rest of the song. I got the idea for the lyrics from Jesus’ words, “You are the salt of the earth.” I was thinking of all the things salt does; preserves, flavors, etc. Then I thought and it stings in an open wound. Like salt in a wound, Christians can also be seen as an annoyance by a world wounded and separated from God. Whenever we are compelled to speak truth when people prefer lies, we are hated and scorned. We sting like salt in the wounds of a wounded world.

At first I sang the lead on this one but in the studio Terry decided Mark’s voice sounded more heartfelt and desperate, largely because he was recovering from a bad head cold.

33. It’s a Boys’ Boys’ Boys’ Boys’ World
"I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all." - Ecclesiastes 9:11

"I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." - 1 Corinthians 13:11

You better believe it's a dangerous thing
When we start believing that youth is king

Probably my third favorite JT song ever (right after Little Red Words and This Moment). I am especially pleased with the lyrics to this one. Ever a child of the Eighties, I was trying for a big jungle drum driving beat of stuff like Duran Duran, Big Country, etc. We only played it live a few times but I always loved it when we did. It’s a ton of fun!

The idea for the song grew out of a discussion about the youth-obsessed nature of our culture. We worship it like it’s the pinnacle of existence. We spend the first 20 years of our lives trying to grow up then the rest of our lives trying to stay 20! It’s insanity. The entire culture is geared toward youth and regards age as an enemy rather than a gift to be treasured and embraced.

It was my attempt to be both funky and philosophic at the same time. If you listen close we take a playful jab at our old touring mates, the Newsboys, in the fade out.


32. Time Bomb
"For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." - Ecclesiastes 12:14

"But everything exposed by the light becomes visible." - Ephesians 5:13

A well of secret shame is buried deep inside my crooked heart
It's quiet on the surface but inside it's tearing me apart
Alright, I need someone to talk to
I'm a time bomb, baby

We had been listening to a lot of INXS at that time. We were big fans of that band and I really wanted to capture their funky, dance-groove influence in a song. Listening back now it sounds really “white” to me, like Kevin James’ character in Hitch learning to dance from Wil Smith. “Don’t you bite your lip!”

Lyrically, it’s all about trying to handle your sin yourself. You try to keep it a secret from everyone around you because you don’t want to deal with the shame and guilt and embarrassment associated with it – whatever “it” is. So instead of seeking help and strength from the allies God has put in your life (and they are there, you just have to look for them hard enough and have patience), you just hunker down and try harder to do better. The problem with that it that the whole approach runs counter to the gospel. You cannot handle it yourself. You can’t ignore it and hope it just gets better. It’s just a matter of time before it manifests itself in your life somehow and you can bet it won’t be pretty. Find someone you can trust and get help. Your Enemy is too big and if we could have handled the battle ourselves, then Jesus on the cross was pointless.

I had high hopes of radio single potential for this track but it was not to be.

31. About Sex
"It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God." - 1 Thessalonians 4: 3-5
The Greatest Hit We Never Had. People used to drive from all over to hear us play this song in concert. It was, without question, the show stopper in our early live sets. It was originally intended for Door Into Summer but was passed on when the final song selection was made. We re-recorded it ,intending it for Knock Breathe Shine, but Terry declined to produce it. He felt the lyrics were too “moral majority” and that it clashed with the musical and artistic direction the album was taking. Looking back I can see that Terry was probably right, but the ideas expressed in it are still true and more relevant today than when it was first written, even if the pop-culture reference are outdated.

30. Beggars and Kings
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - Phil. 2: 5-11

The King of Glory wears a beggar's face

This is a song Terry and Randy Stonehill had started some months before we came out to record. They hadn’t finished it and Terry thought it might fit our record. So he had Randy come by and the three of us sat down and finished it. Rather, Terry and Randy finished it while I sat there in awe of the fact that I was sitting with Terry Taylor and Randy Stonehill. They put my name on the credits anyhow. Nice fellas.

When I asked him why he wanted to give me credit as a songwriter he said, “Because they came out of that head space that you helped create. You are a part of those songs whether or not you wrote any of the actual music or lyrics.”

I always thought he was just being nice.

29. If Superman Got Saved
"My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, 'Here's a good seat for you,' but say to the poor man, 'You stand there' or 'Sit on the floor by my feet,' have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?" - James 2:1-4

All the rest of us would do is just stand around and pray
I mean we would probably just get in his way

"This song was actually intended for Door Into Summer, but when it failed to make the final cut, we re-recorded it in its present form to be considered for Knock, Breathe, Shine! I picked Superman as sort of an icon of pop culture in order to ridicule the Western church's disturbing tendency towards hero worship. "Superstars" of faith like Billy Graham and Mother Teresa are held up as symbols of some unattainable spiritual status while the local church and its lay ministry is often overlooked and disregarded. We look at celebrities like Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen and say, "Boy, if those guys ever got saved, they would really give the gospel a boost!" Well, the gospel doesn't need a boost, it just needs a willing heart. Besides, Bob Dylan pretty much blew that theory out of the water in the eighties." We forget that God deliberately chooses the things that are weak and foolish to confound the rich and the famous. No superhero is more powerful than a praying believer.

28. The Best Part of Me
"I will praise you, O LORD, with all of my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High." - Psalms 9:1-2
"All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you." - Psalms 145:10
"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." - Romans 1:20

Thank you, Father for letting me see
The best part of me
Is the part that finds beauty in You

27. Tears of an Angel
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church..." - Ephesians 5:25, 28-29
"Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them." - Colossians 3:19
"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." - 1 Peter 3:7

And through the years, your only fear is you'd end up alone
A heart's the gift that always gives, and you can't call your own

26. Lovin’ Kindness
"Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you." - Psalms 63:3
"Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." - Revelation 22:15

The wolves have let the sharks in, the ostrich does a head stand
I hope by playing opossum I won't be a sitting duck again
Republican, Democrat, I don't want no part of that
Free love? Some doubt but
I don't want to live without Your 
Lovin' kindness

25. Better Days
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." 
- Ephesians 4:32
"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." - Proverbs 14:30
"A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit." - Proverbs 15:13

Beneath the desert sky, past the scenery
You take my hand and carry me away past the bottom
Where the dust of life gathers in the heart
And I realize
It is too deep for me to reach

24. This Moment
"And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." - Romans 13:11-12
"Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.'" - Hebrews 4:7
"Be very careful, then, how you live -- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." - Ephesians 5:15-16

This moment won't last forever, don't walk away, don't walk away

23. Desiree
"Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life." - Proverbs 4:10-13;
"The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining even brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble." - 18-19;
"A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps." - 14:15;
"Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path." - 23:19

Desiree's got a lot of pieces, but she don't know where they fall
She never sees the picture long enough to give it thought
And what she holds on to she can't let go with her hands

22. Love is the Reason We Live
"'... Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." - Mark 12:30-31
"Somehow Christians must recapture on a grand scale this basic certainty that God is love. Unless they do, unless they feel it and know it and show it and live it, it is unlikely that the surrounding world... will ever grasp the fundamental fact of creation."
- J. B. Phillips, "Making Men Whole"

Lock up the thieves and the rogues in us all
And make some room to let the truth run wild

21. Lovehouse
"Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name." - Malachi 3:16

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching." - Hebrews 10:25

"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full...'" - Luke 14:23

Come on down to the house of love
This is the house where love lives

20. Love Me Today
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" - Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching." - Hebrews 10:24-25

Love me today, don't wait until tomorrow
You'll see life through a brand new pair of eyes

                I was fortunate to grow up in a home that had lots of great vinyl. Between my brother’s and my folk’s record collections – I was exposed to tons of great music and fell in love with music at an early age. The Who, The Beatles, Beach Boys, John Denver, CCR, Peter, Paul and Mary, Kingston Trio and The Ventures just to name a few of the early groups that played a huge role in my song writing. I love guitar riffs and I love tons of harmonies and I love how the power of a song can creep inside you and change you or  transport you to somewhere in your past or bring you to tears or just leave you full of joy! A song is a powerful and wonderful thing – especially if there is a good message wrapped inside.
                  I had been revisiting The Beatles album Rubber Soul for some inspiration as we started writing for the album “Truth” I had this guitar riff floating around in my head that I felt could work for a Beatles/CCR kind of vibe. Some songs take years to write and others just write themselves – Love Me Today was one of those that just fell into place. Jerry helped finish up some lyrics in the bridge and Mark Heard suggested that we double the length of the second chorus. Simple, upbeat and makes you smile when you sing along. It carried with it a simple message of why wait until tomorrow - Live now, change now, and make a difference now.  
                 One of the great things about being in JT was our camaraderie. We spent many, many hours together cooped up in a R.V traveling around the States. A 20 hr drive would bore many people to tears – but with JT the hours would pass by quickly. I always enjoyed our time driving - We had a lot of fun, we talked about important things, we talked about stupid things, we encouraged each other and we shared life together. Being part of a group of kindred spirits is a wonderful and important thing. Love me today is about breaking out of your shell and learning to share your gifts, your troubles and your laughter.

19. Look at U Now
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17

It's plain this change is made of much more than just a state of mind
There's an angel on your shoulder
You just might win me over in time

Terry and I (mostly Terry) wrote this in the den at his house. I don’t remember anything special about it except for that it was totally in the wrong key for me. The low parts of the verses are waaaaay too low. Whenever we used to play this song live, I could never get that low and would inevitably go out of pitch. I don’t know why we never just played it in a different key. Just never occurred to us, I guess.

I remember we played it live on Ron Hutchcraft’s Saturday Night Alive radio broadcast one night and it was just awful. We did three or four songs total and the rest of them sounded great but that one kicked off the show and it just sounded horrible. Unfortunately, I have it on DAT tape so it’s unique awfulness is captured forever in full digital glory.

Greg Flesch played those high guitar parts in the bridge. Terry sings back up.

18. Way of the Cross
"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel -- not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those that are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demanded miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." - 1 Corinthians 1:17-25

He stripped off our disguises, our cover was blown
At the end of all we thought we knew, naked past the bone
It was no accident, it was the way of the cross

17. Is it True?
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." - Ephesians 2: 8-9
"But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." - Romans 7: 6

Am I bound by ritual? Could it be I've been free all along?

I wrote this song in one sitting. It just came to me out of the blue one day at home. I had been thinking about legalism in the church and it all just kind of blurted out onto the page. I took it to the band and we immediately worked up an arrangement. 

Originally, I was going for a Monkees sound ala “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day” or maybe “Tear Drop City.” I think you can hear that reflected in the demo version from Diggin’ Up Bones. This is my absolute favorite of the alternate tracks from Diggin’ Up Bones. The predominantly acoustic guitars, percussion, and the background vocals give it a decidedly more Monkee-esque quality than the Carl Perkins-style rockabilly rendering on Knock. 

The lyrics are noticeably different on this original track; they were altered by Terry on Knock to give it a more universal application rather than limiting it to just the Church. You can tell just by listening to this track that we were having a blast just being together and making music that honored God. The acoustic guitar solo in the middle is one of Mark's best, in my opinion."

Originally, I sang the lead vocal on the demo and in concerts. In the sessions for Knock, Terry thought Mark’s vocal sounded more earnest and heartfelt for a questioning type of song. So Mark sings it on the officially released version.

16. Million Miles
"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." - Matthew 10:37-39

Nothing You ask could ever be denied
'Cause it should have been me that was crucified

I originally wrote this chorus in the parking lot of a Hardees. I was trying to get home from work or something and there was a traffic jam. I tried every way I knew how to get home but every way was blocked. I ended up spending more time trying to go around the traffic than I would have just enduring it. 

I turned around in a Hardees parking lot singing “I’d go a million miles out of my way…” I liked the melody and continued to work it out. I got home and wrote some verses and fleshed it out. Next practice I did my usual singing it to Mark and Steve so they could figure out what it should sound like. Mark made up a really catchy 12-string part and it became one of our first five songs. 

The version on Door is very similar. It’s probably one of the least altered songs. There is a bridge-type thing that we added and a cool stop near the end, but other than that it’s almost identical.

Frontline pushed this song to radio as a single but it never did much. I always thought “Wind and Wave” was a better choice for a single. But hey, what do I know?

15. Further Up and Further In
"However, as it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him'." - 1 Corinthians 2: 9
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared asa a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'" - Revelation 21: 1-5

We'll swim the waterfall and by the lion's mane

Take what adventures there may find us

I am a big fan of C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity is second only to the Bible in terms of spiritual influence in my life. During the time between Door Into Summer and Knock Breathe Shine, I had been reading a lot of Lewis. My wife and I, both fans of fantasy literature, had bought a set of the Narnia books and were reading them to each other. The Last Battle became a favorite of ours, particularly the last few chapters where Lewis deals with the Narnian concept of heaven.

The characters in the book, having all died in the Last Battle of Narnia, discovered they were in Aslan’s Country (Heaven). What I love most is that he doesn’t waste time trying to describe what Heaven looks like, so much as what we will be like when we get there. His description of the changes that come over the characters is moving and produces a longing for God every time I read it.

At one point, one of the characters calls out “Come! Let’s go further up and further in!” It becomes a sort of cry that encourages them to explore the glory of God deeper and deeper. The further up and in they go, the bigger it becomes.

As with most things that touch me deeply, it squeezed a song out of me. I wrote it down and sang it to the band one night at rehearsal. They all liked it but didn’t really know what to do with it in terms of arrangement. So we didn’t really develop it further until we took it in the studio and recorded it with Terry.

The drum loop is actually Dave Raven’s drum machine. He programmed the loop for us to rehearse with but we liked the groove so much we used it on the recording. Greg played the accordion part, I think. Randy Stonehill came in and sang harmonies and “hooty-hoos.” It turned out quite nicely.

Now that full theatrical versions of The Chronicles of Narnia are being made, I’d like to see if they would use “Further Up and Further In” in the soundtrack to The Last Battle. Hey, maybe I could get Third Day to record it and pitch it. 

14. Awfully Familiar

Prophecy, like jigsaw puzzle pieces one by one fall into place
History may often be repeated but it cannot be erased

This is my attempt to roll up Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour and The White Album all up into one song. It borrows heavily from “Dear Prudence,” particularly in the bass line. So much so that when we played this one in concert we would go into “the sun is up, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful and so are you” at the end.

I love this song and to me it’s one of the better tracks on Door. We had it mostly finished when we flew out to record, except for a third verse which I was stuck on. In rehearsals I just sang the second verse twice. Terry said not to worry about it just then because we technically didn’t need it until it came time to cut the vocal.

Fast forward to cutting the vocal and still no third verse. We all sat around throwing out ideas but nothing seemed right. Terry sat at the console scribbling on a napkin. A few minutes later, he looked up. “There’s your third verse,” he said, smiling. He handed it to me, I went out and sang it. And that’s what you hear on the CD.

Greg Flesch plays a cool e-bow part on this song. That’s him on the little coronet part in the bridge and during the fade out. It’s actually a keyboard but it sounds authentic enough.

Terry came up with the idea of adding the sounds of a rain storm to give it a little atmosphere. This brought to the surface a concern that had been growing in our minds as the recordings grew more and more sophisticated. “Terry, we’re just three guys with a guitar, a bass and drums,” we said. “How the heck are we supposed to recreate all these guitar parts and keyboard parts and rain storms?” His answer was so simple it took us back. “So don’t,” he said. “Who says you have to do a song exactly like the record? Do something different with it when you play live. Otherwise people might as well just stay at home and listen to the CD.” 

That was quite a liberating thought! We assumed that people would expect it to sound just like the CD. But would they really? I think most people just want you to play well and put on an entertaining show. It took us a few months to fully digest all the implications of this concept, but in no time we were re-inventing the songs for live audiences and enjoying much success. In fact, our live shows eventually became much better than any of our recordings.

13. Wild, Wild, Ride
"Jesus replied, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'" - Luke 9:62
(for Rick, Robin, Tom and Bun E.)

Does anybody here want to see beyond the horizon?
There's a hunger here that cannot be denied!

12. Something Good Happens

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1: 2-4
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith -- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire -- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." - 1 Peter 1: 6-7

Inspired by Doug Granville

You shake your fist and curse the sky and tell me you were born to die
But your broken heart and tear-stained face are trophies in a better place

This was the first song we wrote as a five-piece band, where we all sat in a room and worked it out, everyone adding their own flavor to the finished product. It required a good bit of restraint on my part as I recall, not rushing in to finish it myself, or to force it into the direction I felt it ought to go. In my head initially I heard it a bit slower with more of a Tom Petty drawl to it. But I wanted to see what would happen if I just brought the lyrics and melody to the band and let it take shape organically.

I remember first getting the idea for the song one day between tour dates when I was working at the Record Bar I the mall. There was this kid named Doug that used to come in and talk about music. He was in a local alternative band ala the Replacements, Meat Puppets, Husker Du, etc. We were talking about songwriting and he mentioned he had written a song about realizing that at any moment of every day, somewhere in the world something good was happening. I remember thinking, “Now that’s a refreshing attitude for an alternative rock guy!” 

The more I thought about it the more I liked that idea. So… I completely stole it! Not really, but I did use his idea as an inspiration, sort of a jumping off place for the rest of the song. It ended up being a song about hope, that no matter what was happening – and really bad stuff happens al the time all around us – God was actively working to bring redemption and restoration to the human race.

I knew that I was going to catch some flack for it. Hopelessness was trendy. Acknowledging doubt and admitting weakness was seen as “honest faith.” There is some legitimacy to being honest about your doubts. The prophets expressed their frustrations to God openly. But they didn’t land there. They pushed through. They also expressed their complete faith in the goodness of God even if they couldn’t understand everything He allowed to happen. Sure enough, several interviewers pressed me on being “too cheerful,” or having rose-colored glasses. I have to admit, it was tiresome defending hope in Christ to supposedly Christ-following journalists.

11. Psalm 151
"'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'" - John 8:58

How could words ever form any praise that is worthy of Thee?
And Your name is the Great I Am

One of the first songs we wrote together was “Psalm 151.” Mark had the music all worked out and played it for us one night. I began to work out a vocal melody. It felt like a praise and worship type song so Steve and I began looking through the Psalms for lyrical inspiration. We all added lines here and there, some from scripture, some from our own ideas. The hook line became “Your name is the Great I Am.” 

We called it Psalm 151 as a sort of in-joke for the biblically literate. There are, of course, only 150 psalms and this was a new one so…
It is amazing how many people have come up to us at concerts and said, ”Wow! I love how you guys put Psalm 151 to music!” One guy even told us tearfully of how he looked it up in his Bible to follow along!

Gene added the keyboards but other than that it’s almost identical to our original recording. Oh, yeah, and Terry said “Ix-nay on the ono-Bay ocals-vay!” In other words, we had to cut out the Bono-esque “whoa-ohs” during the bridge that were on the original.

We seldom played this one live but there is one time that stands out in my memory. We played Cornerstone 1991 and closed the show with an acoustic version. It was awesome. The whole place had their hands lifted singing “Your name is the Great I Am” to God. I thoroughly enjoyed that moment!

10. Little Red Words
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." - Hebrews 4:12

Ah, little red words in a big black book
Crimson like the blood it took for me

This is my favorite Jacob’s Trouble song of all time. And it’s the song I am most proud of writing. The drumming is not too shabby, either! It was my attempt to roll everything I loved about the Beatles’ Revolver album into a single song.

It turned out exactly like I heard it in my head, which is very rare. Usually by the time your song idea gets interpreted by the band, the producer and the mix engineer, there is little resemblance to your original idea. But this one is a rare and very special exception.

Greg Flesch does the guitar solo. Terry, Jerry Chamberlain and Sharon McCall do the bgv’s.

9. She Smiles at the Future
Proverbs 31:10-31

Strength and honor clothe her
She smiles at the future
Truth and wisdom know her
She smiles at the future

I wrote this one mostly myself on a little keyboard my wife had given me for my birthday one year. I picked out the opening riff first and played it for Mark, who learned it on guitar. I then sang out the melody as I heard it in my head, and Mark and Steve figured out what chords to play behind it.

That’s pretty much the way I wrote all my songs back then. I couldn’t play guitar yet at that point so I was at the mercy of the guitarists in the band to interpret what I sang or hummed to them. It was an awkward and painstaking way to write songs. But it was the only way I had to communicate what I heard in my head.

The instrumental bridge part in the middle was Terry’s idea. He helped us figure out what to do there. The riff like thing that resolves it back into the verse is a discarded riff from another song idea I had. I liked it though and was glad I found a place to use it.

The lyrics are taken largely from Proverbs 31 about a godly wife. There is no godlier person I know than my wife. And the verse that said, “She smiles at the future” just leapt off the page. I thought that pretty much summed up my wife; confident that Jesus loves her and has an incredible life planned for her and our family. If I were to write a song about myself it would probably be “He Stresses Out About Everything.”

The drum part is straight Ringo, lifted right out of “In My Life.”

8. Islands, Buildings, and Freeways
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit has set me free from the law of sin and death." - Romans 8: 1-2

I guess I was living like an island
I stood my ground taller than a building
I was tied up, busy as a freeway
Then You rescued me

The credits say this was written by Terry Taylor and Jerry Davison but I can tell you this is Terry’s song all the way. I was in the room when he wrote it and maybe tossed out a few suggestions here and there but the whole thing is pretty much his start to finish. And as such, it’s not surprising this was one of the most popular and enduring songs from the record.

Again we were riffing off of John Donne’s Holy Sonnets for the main idea. If my professor of Early English Lit only knew what a huge help she was to our band… maybe she wouldn’t have given me a D.

7. Dreammaker
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will." - Romans 12:2

"Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things." - Colossians 3: 2

With a Dreamer's blood we're bought, holding captive every thought
Till our dreams come true in a time when time is not

I actually dreamed the chorus to this song one night. I woke up with it still echoing in my head and wrote it down on a scrap of paper. I sang it to myself all week in an effort to not forget it. 

The next band rehearsal, Mark came in and played us an idea for a new song he had. He played guitar and la-la-laed the melody. When he got to the end I sang the chorus I had dreamed and it fit perfectly. It was really kinda cool the way it worked out. Mark and I put our heads together and hammered out the words.  I ended up writing the lyrics for the chorus and the first two verses, Mark penned the third verse himself. 

It was one of those rare occasions where we actually collaborated on the writing of a song. Usually one of us would bring in a mostly finished idea and the band would just work out the arrangement. This was a delightful exception and is one of my favorite JT songs. I especially like Mark’s voice on it. He was a much better singer than he ever gave himself credit for.

The alarm clock at the beginning was our idea. Gene copped the sound off of a sound effects CD he had. The dreamy synth was Terry’s idea, realized by Greg Flesch. No other guest musicians or singers, this one is all us.

6. You Scare the Hell Outta Me
"Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.'" - Exodus 20:20

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise." - Psalm 111:10

It's not the thunder and fire, it's not the smoke and the lightning
It's not the power of Your hand that I find so frightening
It's the mercy so deep it swallows justice alive
It's the love so strong not even death can survive it

This is another of my personal favorite JT songs ever. It is, for my money, 10,000 times the praise and worship song that “These Thousand Hills” is, but will probably never be covered by Jeremy Camp or Casting Crowns, and will definitely never be sung in church… not even the one where I lead worship!

I am especially happy with the lyrics. I felt I was able to capture the idea that the fear of God has a sanctifying effect on our hearts and minds. We would be changed from the inside out by realizing how holy God truly is, and remembering that we will stand before Him one day.

The lyrics in the bridge were inspired by a quote from Religio Medici by Sir Thomas Browne:

“I fear GOD, yet am not afraid of Him: His Mercies make me ashamed of my sins, before His Judgments afraid thereof.”

 Yet another product of my English lit classes in college.

As much as I love this song, it got shafted on the Truth recording sessions. Another victim of the rushed recording that plagued the whole record. There were several mistakes that we just ran out of time to go back and fix. The most glaring is in the breakdown after the bridge section, the music stops and there is supposed to be this big crunching power chord that brings the band back in for the final choruses. In our hurry to finish the record in the paltry week we had access to the studio, we overlooked going back and adding in those guitars so now there is a measly cymbal crash marking the sad absence of anything like the powerful guitars meant to herald the end of the song like the Second Coming. Just a stop with Mark’s acoustic strumming, then a puny little “Pshhh” and the song cranks back up.

If you don’t know what is supposed to happen there, you probably would never notice it. But here it is some 20 years later and it sticks out to me like a neon flashing sign that says, “This record could have been great!”

Thankfully, I have some recordings of this song live where we totally redeemed it. This became a major staple in our sets the final years we toured.

5. There Goes My Heart Again
"My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." - Job 42: 5-6

And now I wanna get to know You much better
Now that my heart has come around

We spent a lot of time with Terry just working through different ideas during the recording of Knock, Breathe, Shine. One morning we had a breakthrough. I had been reading the sonnets of John Donne (I dabbled in early English lit in college) and pointing out to Terry some things that I thought would be good song ideas or lyrical starting points. I don’t remember exactly which sonnet it was but it sparked something in Terry. He grabbed his guitar and started strumming and singing. We threw lyric ideas back and forth. It eventually became “There Goes My Heart Again.” I remember him being really happy with the song. As we broke for lunch and came into the kitchen, he joked with his wife, “We’re the new Beatles.” 

John Donne’s influence is all over Knock Breathe Shine, as much as Terry’s or the Beatles’ or anybody’s. In fact, the title itself was taken from one of his sonnets which we used as the basis for “I’m A Little World.” Donne’s passion for God, his desperate thirst for Him, runs all through the record. 

I remember asking Terry why he wanted to give me a songwriting credit for a song he pretty much wrote himself. I’ll never forget his answer because it was such a radical, eye-opening idea. He just shrugged and said, “It came out of the headspace of us working together. It doesn’t matter who put the pieces in place. It’s a product of the partnership.” Wow! What a concept!

So before you and your buddies split up the band over who wrote what, remember the Headspace Rule. It’ll save you a lot of grief and possibly a lawsuit!

4. Waiting for the Son

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words." - 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. 'He will rule them with an iron scepter.' He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." - Revelations 19:11-16

The lightning flash, the sky is cracked, the whole world will see
Messiah has returned!
No more waiting for the Son

Well, there’s just no way around this one, is there? It’s just about as U2 as you can get without just covering a U2 song. Ironically, it was written and recorded long before Keith Johnston, our resident U2 wannabe, ever joined the band.

The story of how this song came to be starts in my mom’s basement where we rehearsed in those very early days. One night Mark showed up to rehearsal with a BOSS Digital Delay pedal. Given that Mark never used effects, I nearly wet my pants.

“Where the heck did you get that?” I asked. “A friend let me borrow it,” he said. “He said I could have it if I wrote a song with it.” So Mark proceeded to play this riff which he created using the delay pedal. It was simple but really cool, with a trippy, Edge vibe ala “Where The Streets Have No Name.” Steve jumped in with a punchy bass line and I started playing a beat behind it. I was diggin’ it!

“Ya got any words yet?” I asked, drooling to be the one who wrote the lyrics. “Nope,” he said, and away I went. I can’t remember what inspired the apocalyptic vibe. I guess I have always been interested in eschatology, even before I knew what the word meant! I had read Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth and watched a few bad Christian movies about the end times. And let’s not forget that the whole second side of Daniel Amos’ Shotgun Angel (one of my favorite albums of all time) was all about the end times.

I started re-reading Daniel and Revelation. I grabbed various images from all over the place, trying to paint a picture of the violence and desperation described there. Then I remembered the old Doors album, Waiting For The Sun, that my sisters used to listen to all the time when I was growing up. I just kind of threw it all in there and emotionally it really clicked with the feel of the music. 

This was another big live song for us. After a brief reprieve during the truth tour we put it back in the set during our final tour. After that it stayed in the set till the end.

We demoed it at Songbird, along with a few other songs and sent them on to Frontline. The demo has an extra background vocal part that we cut out later. It’s more electric guitar oriented than the version on Door. That’s Alex MacDougal playing percussion.

Also, there exists on the master tape, a 12-stringRickenbacker part that Terry wanted Mark to add in. We recorded it but didn’t use it. It was kind of an “Eight Miles High” Byrds thing, but it didn't sound right to us in this particular song. Terry fought for it right up to the final mixing phase but we out-voted him.

“Waiting for the Son” became our second radio hit and our first number one on the Rock charts. At least that’s what they tell me…

3. Church of Do-What-You-Want-To
"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." - 2 Timothy 4:3-4

"Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction." - 2 Thessalonians 2:3

Are you tired of religion that only seems to bring you down?
Cramping your lifestyle like a certain thorny crown?

This was our first radio hit. I wrote in response to the growing acceptance of false doctrine in mainstream churches. There are guys writing books that are sold in Christian bookstores that teach things totally outside the realm of essential Christian doctrine. Not that that’s a surprise or anything given what Peter predicted would happen in the latter days of the church.

Our original demo featured a big distorted guitar intro and an overall edgier arrangement. It was Terry’s idea to give it a more Roy Orbison “Pretty Woman” vibe. I have to say it’s a drastic improvement.

The weird phone message at the beginning is actually Gene Eugene’s answering machine. Dan Michaels, of the Choir, was a neighbor of Gene’s. They lived in a neighborhood where everybody knew each other and trusted one another so they never locked their doors or anything. So one day when Gene’s at work, Dan sneaks in and changes the message on Gene’s answering machine. 

We were taking a break from recording and Gene called home to check his messages. He suddenly started laughing out loud and we were all staring at him like “What the…?” He redialed his number and handed the phone toTerry. “Listen to this, “ he said. “It’s Dan doing a bad impersonation of some cartoon character.”

We all took turns listening to it and agreed we had to put it on the record. It’s somewhat edited for the recording to leave out Gene’sname. But for years after that we would have people yell out “Rooty-Toot-Toot!” at our concerts.

Terry Taylor plays acoustic guitar on this one. Ric Alba can be heard laughing in one spot. He was one of the background vocalists on this cut. We liked the loose informal feel it gave the song so we left it in.

That’s me lifting a tambourine part from U2’s “God Part II.” I did it on the demo, too.

2. These Thousand Hills
The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it." - Psalm 24: 1

"To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen." - Phillipians 4:20

These thousand hills roll ever on

Ripples of a coming storm

The Morning Star precedes the dawn
These thousand hills roll ever on

In between the recording of Door Into Summer and writing new songs for what would become Knock, Beathe, Shine, I took a vacation with my wife to Florida. While we were there we stayed with a friend whose family was from England. On the coffee table in their living room was a huge book about Scotland. I have always wanted to visit Scotland. I just love the green rolling hills, the castles, the rich history. And I had recently seen the movie Local Hero (rent it! You’ll love it!) and just fell in love with the people and traditions of Scotland.

I was flipping through this book just soaking in the pictures of the people and places and this song just sort of welled up inside me. The words “These thousand hills” I had remembered from an old western I saw on cable a few months back. I always liked the sound of it and had it in mind to use in a song whenever the right opportunity arose.

I jotted it down and as soon as we got back from vacation, I took it to the band. All I had were a few verses and the chorus. It was not anywhere near finished in my mind. The response was lackluster at best. They said it sounded too much like the U2 song “Van Diemen’s Land” from Rattle and Hum. In fact, the melody was remarkably similar. So we just sort of shelved it for the time being and moved on to other songs.

Fast forward to the recording of Knock, Breathe, Shine: We are sitting in the studio putting the finishing touches on basic tracks and Terry says, “Well, is there anything else you guys have?” I said, “Well, there is this one song but it’s not really finished.”

“Let’s hear it, “ he says. So Mark breaks out the acoustic and I sang it to him. Terry sort of lit up. He caught the whole “Mull of Kintyre” thing I was after and we tracked the drums and scratch guitar and vocals.

During overdubs, he had Greg Flesch play the bagpipe parts on a keyboard. He called in everybody from Frontline, artists and office workers and they came down and made an impromptu choir. And we had Tim Chandler play bass on it, not because Steve couldn’t but because Steve was a huge Chandler fan and specifically requested that Tim play it.

It turned out better than anyone anticipated and we suggested Frontline release it as the AC single they were always trying to get from us. They took one listen and turned us down flat. “Songs with bagpipes don’t get played on Christian radio,” they said. And that was that. Never mind that, only a few short years later, Rich Mullins’ “Step By Step” complete with REAL bagpipes shot to the top of the Christian radio AC charts.

Over the next several months after the album’s release we got tons of fan mail saying “These Thousand Hills” was the best song on the album, and they sang it in their church youth group meetings. Still Frontline refused to even hear of it. Even in 1998, when KMG was putting together a greatest hits package, they refused to put “These Thousand Hills on there. 2 years later, Third Day recorded it and had a Top 3 radio hit with it.

And the moral of this story is: When the A&R guys at your record label say one thing and everybody else in the whole world says the opposite, don’t listen to the A&R guys.

1.  Wind and Wave
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." - James 1:5-8

I will never leave you, nor forsake you
I will always be with you

This was one of the first, if not THE first song I wrote as a member of Jacob’s Trouble. It is largely autobiographical and chronicles the struggle I went through actually believing that His grace is enough to save me. I think every believer has to face the doubt of his own salvation.

I was having a hard time with this because my sin was sogreat in my own eyes. I knew what scripture says about it but the enemy’s lies were clever and seductive. Finally, my wife got tired of hearing me whine. “Doyou believe the Bible or don’t you?” she said.

“Yes,” I said.

“Well, then what’s the problem?” And she just threw her arms up and walked out of the room. It left me there thinking. ‘Hey, that’s right. What the heck am I doing?’ The result of that experience was “Wind and Wave.” I wrote it to encourage other believers who might be having the same struggle. I guess I hit a nerve because I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from fans regarding that song.

The opening riff is actually based on an old 77’s songcalled “Falling Down A Hole” from their first record. I always like those opening chords. Whenever I hear something that I wish I had written I usually try to re-write it with enough of a twist to keep from getting sued. I started with the same two chord progressions but where as the 77’s song repeats them over and over, I continued to move them on down and make it a longer cycle.

“Wind and Wave” also bears the distinction of being the one song that we never cut from the set list. We played it every show from our first to our last. I think it’s largely due to the universal nature of the subject matter but also that it so perfectly captures the whole Jacob’s Trouble vibe. Even though we rocked it a little harder live than on Door Into Summer, it always seemed to have that JT vibe.

The version on Door differs significantly in feel. Originally it was more rocking and a bit faster. Terry slowed the tempo down and gave it more of an acoustic driven feel. The original version also has a third verse that was cut out of the version on Door. Terry pointed out that it was too much like a “moral of the story” verse and we didn’t need it. You never want to tell people what to think, he advised. It’s better to let them figure out what to do with it.