Recap: I was challenged by one of my friends in EMU Choir to participate in one of those “14 Songs in 14 Days” kind of things, where you list or discuss 14 pieces of music that have had a profound impact on your life! Seeing as to how I have an abundance of time on my hands that I’m using only semi-usefully to this point in the quarantine/ isolation, I figured why not step up my game a bit and use this challenge as the theme of a blog post series. For the entire series, click here.
As I mentioned in my first post, in my quick brainstorm yesterday for this series, I came up with way more than 14 songs that have had a substantial impact on my life. In an effort to combine some of these (though I’m open to the idea of keeping this series going beyond “14 songs/days”), I started thinking about how I might organizing some songs based on the time periods in which they first had that impact or the major activities that were going on during those periods. Today’s two songs are a good example of that combination.
Those two songs, at first blush, wouldn’t seem to have much to do with each other or have much in common! The two are Larnelle Harris’s “I Miss My Time with You” and “Take Me in Your Arms” by the Doobie Brothers (though really, these two songs are taken from the respect albums From a Servant’s Heart (1986) and Best of the Doobies (1976). See what I mean?! Not a lot of similarities here, on the surface!
But I join these two songs (as representative of the full albums) together as having been some of favorites as a young kid because we listened to these albums (on cassette tape, naturally!) seemingly non-stop in the van while I was growing up…and my family drove places in that van a lot! I already mentioned in yesterday’s post that I grew up in the Southern Baptist Church, a music minister’s kid, but what I didn’t mention is that the church where Dad worked was something like a 40- or 45-minute drive from our house, and we went, usually, three times a week from about the earliest memories I have (maybe Kindergarten-ish?) until about sixth grade! So that was a lot. Then you add on the many trips to see grandparents, who all lived around a two hours’ drive away (maternal and paternal grandparents in somewhat opposite directions, mind you!) and you start to see how I think back on my childhood as being shaped by music on cassettes and a lot of library books. It’s almost like I was destined to become a singing academic…
[Ironically enough—and I’ve remarked on this quite often in recent years—despite the fact that my a lot of my research interests falls under the subfield of Geography called “geographies of memory,” my own personal memory of a lot of my childhood is rather limited. Maybe I just haven’t put enough effort into trying to recall a lot of the details (there are only so many hours in the day, after all!), but so much of my early life seems to have faded into mist (if I may be permitted to sound a bit Tolkien-esque for a minute…)]
Anyway, to the music!
Larnelle Harris’s 1986 album, From a Servant’s Heart (entire album on YouTube can be found here), while a bit short at only 9 songs amounting to 41 minutes of music, is nonetheless a masterpiece of 1980s early Contemporary Christian Music, before it largely devolved (in my “now-opinion”) to the more praise-chorusy, guitar and drums-driven simplicity of the ’90s (though at the time when I lived through it, I was very much in love with dc Talk…it’s so funny how tastes can change!) From a Servant’s Heart has very high production value, incredibly soulful singing (perhaps why Dad owned it and another Harris album on Cassette, though which one I’ve forgotten…), and excellent orchestration. Coincidentally, it was not until I researched David Phelps for yesterday’s post (after finding his video of “His Eye is on the Sparrow”) that I learned that both Phelps and Harris were one-time tenors for the Gaither Vocal Band, AND it was not until today—when looking up more about this particular album—that I remembered Harris has a version of “His Eye is on the Sparrow” as the last track on the album. The particular song I chose as representative of the album and this time in my early life is “I Miss My Time with You,” which Harris also released as a highly successful single. If you’ve never heard it before (entirely possible, as I would imagine it’s a bit obscure among mainstream music listeners?), get the Kleenex ready. 😉
The second song/album, to help you recover from ol’ Larnelle up there, is completely different! So much so, in fact, that I’m not even sure if the album was bought by one of my parents or both of them together or what! (Their musical tastes, as evidenced by their wide-ranging LP and cassette collection I recall seeing growing up, were quite varied.) The Doobie Brothers, if you’re not familiar with them, are a five-decade-spanning American rock band (so where’ve you been if you don’t know them?), but also with folk, blues, and soul influences/sounds over the years. They are one of those groups whose music is so popular that you “probably would recognize some of their songs, even if you couldn’t quite put your finger on the name of the band.” I’m actually not that familiar with their wider discography, having only every really listened to the greatest hits album, The Best of the Doobie (the earliest of their greatest hits albums, since they’ve gone on to continued success since it’s release). But what makes this whole album memorable (and this one I now own) is the combination of ear worms, contagious enthusiasm and largely upbeat (nearly all the songs are on my running playlist), and the excellent examples of how an ostensibly “rock” band can still have incredible vocal harmonies! Oh, and in the music videos, the AMAZING hair/facial hair! 😂🤣
Enjoy this one on full blast, and I’ll check in with you tomorrow for (at least) one more round of the soundtrack of Dr. Matt’s childhood!