11.10.08

Great Christian Music: "Entertaining Angels"

Plenty of folks, including Burnside on occasion, rail against the machinery of Christian music. There's good reason to do so, since the Christian music industry at large has hardly been a catalyst for innovation and creativity.

But most of Burnside's writers have also been deeply impacted by Christian music acts, both mainstream and underground. We're hoping this new feature will shed and unironic light on the songs and bands who've provided everything from prophetic voices to great hooks. Our first entry:

"Entertaining Angels" by Newsboys



Steve Taylor makes films now. He directed "Second Chance" and has been working for a few years now at bringing "Blue Like Jazz" to the big screen. Before all that, though, Steve Taylor was a rock star, and he penned this majestic little pop tune for the Australian Newsboys. "Entertaining Angels" is unmistakably Christian in it's sound and production...like 99% of all Christian bands in the 90's, Newsboys borrowed heavily from U2. But Taylor's melody and chorus deserve that sort of clean recording.

Shortly after this song's release, My friend Steve and I were dragged to a Newsboys show by another buddy. Third Day opened, and we were thoroughly underwhelmed. Newsboys rocked it, though. Somehow, from our way up seats, Steve managed to get the entire crowd clapping in a backbeat. Whether that's a testament to Steve's charisma or an indictment of Christian music fans' sheep-like mentality is up for grabs.

Oops...I said no irony.

Back to the song, though. I thought "Entertaining Angels" was a good way to start out, since it's a song I unabashedly love and can listen to repeatedly ten years later. It's also firmly anchored in the mainstream. We need more songwriters like Steve Taylor.

12 comments:

  1. I'm not a Newsboy fan, but I grew up on Steve Taylor. A creative force.

    I'm trying to think of what I consider great music by Christians...

    U2,
    Johnny Cash,
    Mindy Smith,
    Samantha Phillips,
    Jars of Clay,
    Charlie Peacock,
    Derek Webb,
    David Crowder Band Collision Albums,
    Nichole Nordemon's Wide Eyed Album


    I'm sure there's more. But living in Chicago during the college days got me plugged into the jazz scene.

    I know Chick Corea is a Scientologist, but some of his music is downright worshipful to me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Most of the Steve Taylor/ Newsboys collaborations left an impact on me. Looking back at Steve Taylor's music there are lots of great examples of art that were tainted by the "christian machine"

    Look forward to more of these

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Normals is my all-time favorite "Christian" band, and one of the few I still listen to after I grew up enough to know that Christian rock is usually an oxymoron.

    Andrew Osenga (Normals frontman)is now with Caedmon's Call and releasing EPs online - very much worth checking out.

    Loved "Entertaining Angels" when I was in high school. Brings back happy memories.

    ReplyDelete
  4. from BMI's repertoire search: http://repertoire.bmi.com/title.asp?blnWriter=True&blnPublisher=True&blnArtist=True&page=1&keyid=4443128&ShowNbr=0&ShowSeqNbr=0&querytype=WorkID

    "Entertaining Angels", written by Jody Davis, Peter Furler & Phillip Urry.

    To their credit, if you thought the song was one of the Newsboys tracks written by Steve Taylor, that's quite a compliment.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dan, as he so lovingly informed me last night, is correct. "Entertaining Angels" was not written by Steve Taylor.

    Still...good song.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey, I had no idea Steve Taylor had songwriting credits on the recent Newsboys discs until last night, so I'm in no place to nitpick.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I like how we're nitpicking over anything involving the Newsboys.

    ReplyDelete
  8. U2 is what every band of faith aspires to be. Pioneers Phil Keaggy, Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill. Mold breakers Sam Phillips, Steve Taylor, Bruce Cockburn. And my personal favorite, the late great MARK HEARD.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Gotta love the Newsboys. Some of the best concerts i've ever been to were theirs. They know how to put on a show.

    And since no one has mentioned Keith Green in the comments yet, allow me to do so. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mark Heard Reference! WOOT!

    I would, however, contend that his mantle has long been carried by the inestimable Bill Mallonee (late of Vigilantes of Love).

    ReplyDelete
  11. Steve Taylor may have been the best thing that ever happened to the Newsboys (and Sixpence None the Richer and especially Burlap to Cashmere for that matter).

    I actually have a CD from the 80s - Ultimate Rock - with the Newsboys doing a hard-rock/punk vibe, albeit Christianized. You'd never know it was them (or some of them since they changed members almost as often as I changed jobs in 2001.) If anyone wants to hear them do it, I still have it. I'll send the mp3.

    My favorite tour of the Newsboys was "Take Me To Your Leader". I saw it in Hershey during college. They came out in space suits with only their eyes light up and on hovering discs no less. For a Christian band, they spared no expense for effects. And "Breakfast in Hell" is a funny song.

    The lyrics don't give any example of the sound, but here is the 80s song lyrics I mentioned above.

    "In the End"

    First verse:
    I'm sick and tired on the
    world tellin' me
    How to live my life
    What beer I should drink to
    make me feel alright
    The standards dropping the
    streets need mopping
    The worlds tryin' to change the rules
    They've forgotten just how we begun
    Humanism taken its toll

    Chorus
    We'll know who's right in the end
    Every knee shall bow
    We'll know who's right in the end
    Every tongue confess

    Second verse:
    So be a man and make up your mind
    How to live your life
    What standard have you set
    To make you feel alright
    The church is rising, no compromising
    Holiness is cool
    Men laugh, in the end they'll die
    Evolutionists will pay the toll

    ReplyDelete
  12. STEVE TAYLOR working to promote Blue like Jazz??? Tell me it ain't so!!!

    I'm gonna cry. STeve where's the OLD steve? Don't go down the emergent road!

    ReplyDelete