13. Love Song – Love Song

LOVE SONG

Love Song

There are many reasons why an artist and their album would be represented on this list. Quite often it has to do with their impact on artistic merit and quality songwriting exposition. For others it could be the impact of creating a ground breaking release that defied the norms of the day. Some are here because of their historical impact both on the industry and the music that would be created as a result of their efforts.

As for Love Song’s 1972 debut it is all of the above and two other thing. Their inclusion also has to do with their impact on the Church and on the individuals who were ministered to by them. More than any other artist on this list Love Song has garnered the highest number of “that record changed my life” comments. In fact, I will not be surprised to find over the following days several comments from reader as to just what this record means to them. The “emotional” and spiritual impact of Love Song’s debut simply cannot be measured by sales charts, hit songs and cutting edge musical breakthroughs.

Very little time on this review will be spent dealing with the individual songs as all of the previous reviews focused. We will, of course, address the actual product, but something more and different needs to be said about this album and the men that created it.

Most “supergroups” are made up of individuals from other bands or solo artists joining forces to create a superior unit. Love Song is unique in that they became a “supergroup” post script. By that I mean that it is what happened after the group disbanded and where each individual member went after leaving the group. There is not enough tie here to list every member and their accomplishments, especially when one considers that at one time or another the membership of Love Song included the likes of Denny Correll and Phil Keaggy, though neither appeared on a record as a offical band member.

Founding members included Chuck Girard who went on to have a very lengthy and successful career in Christian music with several incredible albums, both pop and worship. His song, Sometime Alleluia, has been a popular worship song for some 30 years. His daughter even went to create a popular Christian group herself known as ZoeGirl.

Tommy Coomes made one very good solo album with the hit, Love is the Key,  and also went on to run Maranatha Music and was instrumental in the birth and proliferation of modern worship music with the introduction of the Maranatha praise series the pre-dated nearly every other worship line by over a decade.

John Mehler, one of the finest drummers in Christian music history, went on to record several solo projects including the stellar “Bow and Arrow” which is a must own for any serious fan of the history of Christian music.

Phil Keaggy went on to…well…went on to be Phi Keaggy!

But is was what these men, along with founding members Jay Truax and Fred Field, accomplished as a unit that is the focus here.

In 1970 Love Song was birthed when Fred Field, Chuck Girard, Jay Truax and Tommy Coomes came together to create a new band. They were already friends and musicians so the forming of a band seemed natural. They began writing songs together. The something happened that would change them, the Church and Church music.The fur friends became Christians and were introduced to a young, vibrant preacher in Costa Mesa, CA named Church Smith.

Chuck was Pastoring a small church on the edge of town in a wide open fielded area. The Church was growing and the little Church building on Sunflower Ave could not contain the numbers that were coming, primarily teens, hippies and counter-culture intellectuals who had rejected mainstream Christianity at the time. But they were seeking something “real” that the drugs, drinking and “free love” simply did not satisfy.

On a side note of great importance to the Christian Music industry, that original small Church building was sold to Jim and Betty Willems and they used that building to open what would become Maranatha Village Bible Bookstore. As mentioned in previous reviews Maranatha Village birthed CCM Magazine and the famous KYMS radio station. Some 15 or so years later I would be hired to manage the store.

But in 1970 these young musicians wanted to share their gifts and music with the church. As Chuck Girard tells it that had written several songs, some written before they were saved and others after their conversions. They met with “Pastor Chuck” and he helped them weed out some doctrinal issues with some of the lyrics and then he offered them the opportunity to perform at Calvary Chapel.

After two years of writing, praying, teaching and being taught it was time to enter the studio and record their debut project. I don’t really know if anyone believed this little record made on a budget a shoestring would scoff at was really going to change the world, but it changed the world for thousands of people who came in contact with it.

The sophomore album, Final Touch, rocked more and had significantly better production. It also contained two of the biggest songs in Love songs short history, the rocking “Cossack Song” and the classic “Little Pilgrim.” As a young overnight disc jockey at KYMS the extra long “Little Pilgrim” was a lifesaver on those night when I worked alone! The record was also a huge success but it is the ground breaker and life-changer that is our focus here.

It’s important to remember a few things before continuing: The first is that before Love Song came along there was pretty much Larry Norman and…Larry Norman. There was no bustling Christian Music scene filled with radio stations and marketing professionals. there was also no one else doing what Love Song was about to do.

The second thing to note is that Love Song is called a “rock band” and the uninitiated will listen and complain that there really is nothing “rock” about what they did. Truth be told Love Song was really a folk/pop band with some rock influences. So when people say that they were performing “contemporary”music they truly were. Music for that day was as much about Jim Croce, Santana, the Beach Boys and Simon and Garfunkel as it was The Who, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. So it is not that they were a rock band on par Led Zeppelin, but rather the comparison is with what was being played on Top 40 radio for the day.

With that knowledge it is important to realize that even the light pop and folk music of Love Song was very contemporary by the Church standards of the day. There was no immediate embrace of what Love Song was doing by mainstream Christianity, but to the kids that gravitated toward something real and authentic, Love Song was a Godsend.

Highlights from the album would be nearly every song. But to spotlight a few would be worth our time. The first real stand out is “Changes,” a song about how the Gospel changes a person from the inside out. This is one of the more “contemporary” songs on the album with a touch of the Beach Boys and Beatles influence. Though he would never perform with the band during their post-conversion days, this song was co-written by Denny Correll.

“Little Country Church” is a tribute to that little building that Calvary Chapel was birthed in that later became Maranatha Village. The lyrics speak of a “real” Church setting that must hav sounded very counter-culture at the time and to the ears of the local Baptist or Methodist minister.

“Welcome Back” is a harmony driven song that feature Chuck Girard’s unique and stirring voice. Girard tells the story that he had written the melody in his pre-conversion days while “smoking a doobie on a hillside” but that he could never come up with a lyric for the song until after he got saved.

“Front Seat, Back Seat” was a country driven tune about letting God by the driver of the car of your life while “Let U Be One” is a great Santana type groove song about unity.

The album opened and closed with two different renditions of the song, “Love Song” with the longer version still only lasting just under 2 minutes. No matter once you hear it you can never get it out of your mind.

Again, as stated at the very beginning the inclusion of this amazing record has as much to do with what it meant and still means to people as it does the artistic merit, which is still quite high. This will actually be the one time I ask for comments, especially from those who lived through those days, as to just what this record and band meant to them.

EDIT: Please note that any comments made that decide to use this post as a way to criticize today’s artist rather than show appreciation for artists of the Jesus Music era like Love Song will not be approved. dwl

About these ads

15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Steve on February 24, 2010 at 4:56 am

    Great (and unexpected) call…people today just don’t realize how huge Love Song was in the early-to-mid 1970s. My mom had this album, so I grew up listening to it all of the time! Changes is my favorite, I think, though they’re all fantastic songs. Some people called them the “Christian Beatles”…

    Reply

  2. No snark necessary – there is room for everyone under the tent, and Love Song as an example of the singer/songwriter vocal group ethic of the Seventies couldn’t be more apropos.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Becky Striggow on February 24, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    I wound up in Southern California, as many people did, in search of answers to life’s big questions. i was also terribly depressed and almost suicidal. (The church was of no help to me and, in fact, turned me off so much that I became nauseated if I went to a service.)
    Once I was in So. California, some former friends invited me to come to church with them, and I refused. They told me about a Christian commune, The House of Christian Love, in Garden Grove, and asked me if I would go with them to a Bible Study. They stressed that the people there were hippies, and very laid back and loving. It didn’t sound threatening, so I agreed to go. I went back several times before I accepted the Lord as my Saviour, led by a brother named Mike K. I’ve never had a chance to thank him.
    It took a little while longer for me to agree to go to church, but I finally went…to Calvary Chapel, in April or May of 1970. It was a small church and we sat in folding chairs…there were probably less that 100 people there.
    I later saw Love Song perform there. The music blew me away…especially songs like “Welcome Back.” I saw them many times and later at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove where my commune went to give them moral support when they performed…. then lastly, in a concert possibly in Hollywood. I remember that Andre Crouch and the Bluebells (?) were on the program, too. Love Song invited people who were Christians to come up on the stage. I was very shy, but went up and sang with all the people on the stage.
    Love Song , Larry Norman, and the House of Christian Love, along with Calvary Chapel , were very instrumental in my early walk. I left California in 1971 or 72, and came home to Georgia. Since then , I’ve been involved in a house church. i will always be grateful to those who made an impact on my life then, and for the Holy Spirit who influenced Love Song to write “Welcome Back”. It still brings tears to my eyes.

    Reply

    • Posted by low5point on February 25, 2010 at 12:20 am

      Thank you for the story Becky. I do hope others will join you in the discussion. There is a sense about this album that it transcended the musical genre and meant more to people than most…

      Reply

  4. Posted by Oceancider on June 17, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    One of my favorite records and bands (along with many of those “former member of Love Song” records that came out later). I became a Christian in 1972 at a church in El Paso, TX and the two most influential factors were the love and acceptance of the people there and the “new” music of the day. It was early high school and the first church function that got me hooked was a “revival” that featured a group of college students who sang those contemporary songs (e.g. their set included a cover of James Taylor’s “You’ve Got A Friend” with slight modifications which made it clear they were singing about Jesus).

    I’m not 100% certain, but I think Love Song actually played at our church around 1973. Prior to that, I’d never heard of them, but I remember being blown away by the music.

    In 1974 our family moved to Anaheim and the Orange County epicenter of Jesus Music. After my first “Jubilation” night (I think that’s what it was called) at Knott’s Berry Farm, I was all in. Wing & A Prayer, Gentle Faith and The Way were three of the bands that I heard there (Daniel Amos, Keith Green, et. al. came later but I remember Keith calling Montezuma’s revenge “The Wrath of God” as he played in the Wagon Camp). That was really the beginning of my Jesus Music collection (in fact, I bought “The Way” that night right after hearing them play).

    We would occasionally drive down to Calvary Chapel for the Saturday Night Concerts (Benny Hester was the one I remember best) and I became a regular at Maranatha Village looking for the latest releases from my favorite bands and searching for new music to enjoy and share.

    Was at the Anaheim Convention Center for the big Daniel Amos concert (1978?) with the orchestra playing Side B of Shotgun Angel. We also saw Larry Norman at the Convention Center (Randy Stonehill joined him for a couple of songs).

    Lots of great memories. I appreciate the work you’ve done on this site. If I may, I recommend Jerry Bryant’s “Full Circle Jesus Music” website (http://www.fullcirclejesusmusic.com). The playlist page has over 140 one-hour segments/webcasts/podcasts highlighting early Jesus Music artists and songs (including just about everyone in your “Top 50.”

    Reply

    • Posted by low5point on June 17, 2010 at 3:58 pm

      You would have to think that at some point or another we must have met. I was born and raised in Anaheim my whole life and worked at Maranatha Village and The Pink Lady Bookstore

      Reply

      • Posted by Oceancider on June 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm

        I’m sure we have. I used to go to The Pink Lady as well. Too funny. Which high school did you attend?

      • Posted by low5point on June 17, 2010 at 7:52 pm

        I went to Katella. Older brother and sister went there as well. Worked at the Pink Lady from ’82 to ’85 and then Maranatha Village from ’85 to ’89

      • Posted by Oceancider on June 28, 2010 at 2:03 pm

        I went to Magnolia and my wife went to Savanna. There were a couple of sisters in our youth group who went to Katella but I think we were all a few years ahead of you.

        In case you haven’t heard, Love Song is actually touring up the West Coast over the next months. We saw them Friday night in Vista (found out about it half an hour before it started when my daughter called and told us Calvary Chapel was having an event at Moonlight Amphitheater and said “some band” is playing in case we wanted to come.

        They are playing in Chino Hills on June 30. Info at their website: http://thelovesongband.com/

  5. Posted by clarke on February 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Just great! I’m guessing this would have taken a higher place in your count if you were just a few year older.

    Yeah, it was kinda mello but consider this. If it was even a little more rock guitar driven it wouldn’t have been allowed in many Christian homes. When my cousin from California turned us on to this it gave us something really different and important – I mean, in our church youth group my brother and I played these songs and all of us sang and it was, well, our way to play the Lord’s music. Way cooler than Kum By Ya if you know what I mean. (I know I’m being kinda negative and that Kum By Ya song was in our Maranatha Music songbook , you know the one with the spiral cover that was always comming off . . . sorry, i’ll cut it out).

    Love Song was so important early on. Part of our Faith really, as much and in the same way Hymns have been. Probably fair to say this is Sacred Music. Love Song was important, perhaps more than Norman or Stonehill or Second Chapter of Acts, because they were a band.

    Of course its even more important what Love Song and their witness has meant to Church evangalism. This album was a blessing.

    To me, well, it wasn’t Zeppelin but I’ll confess that Love Song was really important music in my life.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Trenalou on September 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I was a young girl of 11 in 1972, born and raised in southern Indiana and the very conservative Bible belt. I grew-up listening to Southern Gospel and every Sunday morning we watched “Jubilee,” as we got ready for church. And although I love Southern Gospel, I still have the tamborine I begged for one Christmas when was I only five years old. So when I was able to get hold of Christian music that was considered very contemporary, well, I was next door to heaven. My poor mother was forever telling me to “stand still, you can’t dance to Christian music!” Thank you so much for your faithfulness to God’s leading in using your talents for Him and for giving a young girl a chance to sing along and use her tamborine. :)

    Reply

  7. Posted by Debbie McNeely on March 21, 2012 at 2:38 am

    Wow, was listening to Pastor Chuck Smith on the Radio today and could not believe my ears when he mentioned Love Song. I remember seeing then in El Paso at Jesus Chapel on Friday Night. I still have a book they gave me white cover with red and blue signed by all the members. Praise Lord how this all comes back around.’

    Reply

  8. Posted by Debbie on March 26, 2012 at 3:56 am

    These songs Just seem to stay deep in my heart ,Thank you all for being such a blessing praising Jesus for sending his holy spirit of promise!

    Reply

  9. Posted by Jerry King on September 14, 2012 at 7:23 am

    This album was very instrumental in my Christian development as a new convert. I had been a Christian for about a year. I could not stop playing it once I got my hands on it. I just found this site looking for a picture of the album cover. Don’t know what the previous top albums are yet but I agree with a post above, I am suprised it is not higher.

    This album and “The Downings Live” are my two desert island albums. Thankfully the list is usually 10 so I get to add 8 more. What a thrill it is to have been saved in the early 70′s and get to experience the CCM movement and to hear these groups and grow up (spiritually) with them. Daniel Amos, Sweet Comfort Band, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Barry McGuire, Keith Green. What a blessing I got to enjoy.

    It is a good thing I did not know who was in the group. Tommy Coomes came to our church. My wife fell in love with his music. She went nuts over him. I, sad to say, didn’t realize who I was listening too. Good think for him and her. I would have blubbered like an infant trying to tell him what he meant ot me. Surely would have spoiled her fun and make him wonder about me.

    I’m sure I have said enough, yet not enough. Thanks for this site and look forward to spending more time here. What a treat.

    Reply

  10. I still have my Love Song lyrics and guitar chords book and my grand babies love hearing their songs as some of the lulabys I sing to them. I pray that each one of them continues to be wat they are meant to be.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers

%d bloggers like this: