Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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acoustic-christmasAcoustic Christmas –Neil Diamond

I’ve loved Neil Diamond’s Christmas music since his The Christmas Album in 1992. But I have to admit that when I saw the title of this album I wasn’t excited. I generally don’t like stripped down releases. However, I’m happy to admit that I really loved this mostly folk-styled new release!

First of all, the 75 year-old Diamond’s voice sounds great on this Don Was and Jacknife Lee produced record. The pair produced Diamond’s 2014 album Melody Road. It was during those sessions that the idea for this project took shape. Diamond recorded the record with a handful of musicians sitting around a circle of microphones and Christmas lights.

The album features traditional well-known Christmas songs, two new songs and some lesser known songs. For the most part, the songs features piano, acoustic guitar and no backing vocals. The album starts out with “O Holy Night” (my favorite Christmas song), “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and the new Diamond penned “Christmas Prayers”. The latter is a bittersweet song about remembering those close to him who are no longer here to celebrate Christmas with him.

The album continues with “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, “Mary’s Boy Child” and “Silent Night”, before going into a higher gear with my two favorite songs on the album “Go Tell It On the Mountain” and “Children Go Where I Tell Thee”, which both feature backing vocals from The Blind Boys of Alabama.

The upbeat Irish-inflected “Christmas in Killarney”, best known for Bing Crosby’s version, follows. The album closes with a the joyful three-song “Christmas Medley”, including the upbeat “Almost Day” (written by Pete Seeger and others), the Diamond-penned “Make a Happy Song” and concluding with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

If I had one critique it would be that the standard ten-song edition goes too quickly. Perhaps a few more songs could have been included. Otherwise, I loved this new Neil Diamond Christmas album.
chapter-and-verseChapter and Verse – Bruce Springsteen

This album is the musical companion to Springsteen’s massive new autobiography Born to Run, which I’m currently reading. Springsteen personally chose the 18 songs to reflect the themes and sections of the book; songs recorded over a 46-year period from 1966 to 2012, and are included here in chronological order. Of most interest to Springsteen fans will be the first five songs included, which have not previously been available and “Growin’ Up” from 1972, previously available only on the 1998 Tracks box set. The five previously unreleased songs are:

Baby I – This rather crude recording was made with his high school band the Castiles in 1966. Written by Bruce and Castiles’ guitarist George Theiss, this rocker features some good guitars and backing vocals.
You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover – This song was recorded by the Castiles in 1967, just four months after “Baby I”. It is a cover of a 1962 Willie Dixon song that was made popular by Bo Diddley. Again, this is a rather crude recording. It features some good organ work.
He’s Guilty (The Judge Song) – This song was recorded by his pre-E Street Band group Steel Mill in 1970. It features some excellent guitar that kicks off the song, as well as a solo later in the song, as well as the late Danny Frederici’s organ. We can also begin to more clearly hear Springsteen’s lead vocal here, as well as some good backing vocals.
Ballad of Jesse James – This song was recorded by the short-lived Bruce Springsteen Band in 1972. It features some excellent guitar work and features some good backing vocals. Springsteen was 22 at the time of the recording. He sings “Don’t you want to be an outlaw”? It was recorded 40 years before Springsteen wrote “Outlaw Pete”. The band featured future E Street players Steve Van Zandt, Garry Tallent, Vini Lopez and David Sancious.
Henry Boy – Musically, this is an early version of Springsteen’s classic “Rosalita”, recorded in 1972, though the song has its own story to tell. This solo demo as well as “Growing Up”, was recorded shortly before he began recording his debut album Greetings from Ashbury Park, N.J.  It features Springsteen solo on vocals and acoustic guitar.

The remainder of the album features some of Springsteen’s most popular songs such as “Born to Run”, and focuses largely on his more personal work. Many Springsteen fans will already have most or all of these songs already. While any Springsteen music is worthy of our library, the real attraction of this new collection will be the five previously unreleased songs as well as the connection to the new autobiography.
music news

  • lecrae-on-the-tonight-showLecrae on The Tonight Show. Lecrae recently performed his new single Can’t Stop Me Now (Destination) on The Tonight Show with special guest Lalah Hathaway.
  • Matt Maher Christmas Single. Listen to Matt Maher’s new Christmas single “Glory (Let There Be Peace”. Love me some Matt Maher.
  • Andy Mineo’s “Desperados” Live. Watch this live performance of “Desperados” by Andy Mineo.
  • DC Talk Issues Formal Apology for Nu Thang. The Babylon Bee (Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire) reports “Expressing their “deep sorrow” for the very existence of the record, Christian rock trio DC Talk issued a formal apology Friday for their involvement in the conception, release, and promotion of their sophomore album Nu Thang.”
  • too-coldNew Trip Lee Music. Watch the lyric video for the new song “Too Cold” from Trip Lee. The song is from his upcoming mixtape The Waiting Room, to be released December 9. Can’t wait!
  • I Have This Hope. Watch this video of Tenth Avenue North and Matt Maher performing “I Have This Hope” from Tenth Avenue North’s new album Followers.
  • In the Blink of an Eye. Paul McCartney wrote “In the Blink of an Eye” for the animated film “Ethel and Ernest: A True Story”. Listen to it here.
  • Local Youth Group Has Been Singing ‘I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever’ Since 1999. The Babylon Bee reports “Local reports Thursday morning indicated that a church youth group called Xtreme 4 Christ has been singing hit worship song “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” by Delirious? for nearly seventeen years.
  • I Won’t Let You Go. Watch Switchfoot’s new video for their song “I Won’t Let You Go”, recorded live in New York City. 

Music Quotes:

  • Tell depression it can fly away. Tell my doubts that they can die today. Lecrae  
  • No, they did not take his life–he laid it down. And the chains of death could never hope to hold him, so in the night my hope lives on. Andrew Peterson
  • I know God is in control. But so did Jesus when he wept for Lazarus. Lecrae

Song of the Week

Children Go Where I Send Thee by Neil Diamond with the Blind Boys of Alabama 

This is my favorite song on Neil Diamond’s new Acoustic Christmas album. He is joined on backing vocals by the fantastic Blind Boys of Alabama. Listen to the song here.

Children, go where I send thee,
How shall I send thee?
I’m gonna send thee one by one
One for the little bitty – baby
Born, born, born in Bethlehem.

Children, go where I send thee,acoustic-christmas
How shall I send thee?
I’m gonna send thee two by two
Two for Paul and – Silas
One for the little bitty – baby
Born, born, born in Bethlehem.

[Repeat in descending order:]
Three for the Hebrew children…
Four for the four that stood at the door…
Five for the gospel preachers…
Six for the six that never got fixed…
Seven for the seven that never got to heaven…
Eight for the eight that stood at the gate…
Nine for the nine all dressed so fine…
Ten for the Ten Commandments…
Eleven for the eleven deriders…
Twelve for the twelve Apostles…

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

One thought on “MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

  1. I am SO excited to get this and listen. One of my favorite singers of all times. Thank you!!

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