25. The Secret of Time – Charlie Peacock


Charlie Peacock

While managing Maranatha Village I would receive a phone call the beginning of each month from Charlie Peacock asking me if I needed anymore of the cassette of West Coast Diaries Vol 1. That helped strike up a friendship. But there was often several years in between conversations. In fact, the most recent conversation I recall was after a Sunday Morning service in Colorado Springs where Charlie had performed the offertory for the Church I was attending.

I obviously love a lot of different music and because of connections over the years with many, if not most, of the artist that fill up this countdown, I am not very starstruck. But when it comes to Charlie Peacock…I am a dumb fan! I just love what he does and will find buying albums that he produces even I don’t care for the artist.

When Exit was just starting out I was invited by label head Mary Neely to a concert in Hollywood with Steve Taylor and this new band Exit was releasing called Vector. What I remembered the most about that evening was this bouncy keyboardist that seemed to play with one hand while dancing with the other in that classic 80’s swinging of the arms sort of way. Mary gave me a copy of their album advance that night and I immediately noticed the unique vocals on the songs sung be that keyboardist. They would become my favorites.

Not that much later Mary invited me out the LA one more time for a convert of Exit artists as they were looking to sign a mainstream distribution deal. The line-up included Robert Vaughan and the Shadows (a band whose Exit release came in at number 52 on my list), the 77’s, a new, revamped Vector and that keyboardist, Charlie Peacock. I left that evening with a blank tape advanced copy of a record called “Lie Down in the Grass.”


It was several years between the release of “Lie Down” and the Sparrow release on which we will focus, “The Secret of Time.” In between was a self titled album on Island records that still has two of my favorite Charlie Peacock songs, “Message Boy” and “Down in the Lowlands.” The latter would be covered by Russ Taff on his wonderful Russ Taff project. The “Charlie Peacock” seemed to come and go without even a notice, but the mainstream Christian debut, “Th Secret of Time” would make Charlie Peacock a mainstay in Christian music, whether the artist ever intended things to be that way.

“The Secret of Time” combines reworking of several songs from the West Coast Diaries series along with new songs. It may end of being Peacocks most consistent project with jazz, funk and acoustic/alternative all performed with pop sensibilities and Charlie’s unforgettable, breathy vocals. Though the following album, Love Life, would contain Peacock’s biggest hit, “In the Light,” it was TSOT that contained his most memorable songs.

“Big man’s Hat” kicks off the project with a funky, driving bass and a killer groove. The struggles of arrogance and pride and their detrimental results are the focus of the song, which showcases Peacock’s wonderful ability to twist a phrase.

I thought I had to talk like a fool
I thought I had to drink like a goldfish
I thought I had to lie like a dog, I was one sick cat
Was all this because I wore a big man’s hat?

This struggle with the flesh shows itself in the way in which we approach others, especially those we love. This is true to peacock as he sings:

You got to have big man’s thoughts
To make a big man’s girl
And when I finally made that girl, she did not have a clue
That I would break her like a matchstick
That I could turn young love into the third world war
That I’d sit in the seat where the devil had sat
Was all of this because I wore a big man’s hat?

“The Way of Love” looks at real love, the kid described in 1 Corinthians 13. Set to a lighter, jazz influence groove with swirling keyboards and a constant driving acoustic guitar. The song also features some great vocals by the late Vince Ebo.

Love is patient, love is kind
That’s the kind of love that you give me all the time
I like a love that keeps no record of wrongs
Loves me when I’m good, loves me when I’m not
I know whether night or day
I’ll be waiting for the moment just to hear you say
This is the way of love, this is the way of love

The acts of selfless and sacrificial love are described in “One Thing,” and very radio friendly pop ballad with a breezy jazz groove.

I would lay down my life for YOU
Take YOUR pain and bear the weight of it
I would fight for you that you might live
I would think by now that it’s understood
I would die for you, oh, you know I would

A very nice sax solo leads the instrumental break before the final chorus where Peacock’s breathy, Simply Red type vocals take over as the song drives to a conclusion.

The song closest to the early Charlie Peacock sound is “Put the Love Back Into Love.”  The topic here is purity and fidelity and the consequences to individuals and a culture when purity is ignored.

Sometimes he tries to imagine
What it would have been like
To be pure in heart, to be innocent
On his wedding night
Looking back he had no idea
All that he gave away

But rather than simply bemoaning the loss of innocence and purity, Peacock sees the hope for future generation as he pleas for a more Biblical approach.

Maybe this will be the generation
That will set their minds on the things above
If they set their minds on these heavenly things
Then they’ve got a chance to
Put the love back into love

The story here is of a man who  through negligence or particular acts almost drives true love away. This may be the most personal song on the project as it gives a glimpse into the background and life the artist. There is a sense of hope even as the subject tries to justify their actions through self-delusion.

Through some clever thinking and a strong imagination
I could twist the truth into any configuration
And find myself doing things
That I never dreamed I could do

I’ve know the kind of pain
Where you can’t catch your breath
You sat if this is life
Then please bring me death
Thank God that that wish I made never ever came true

“Dear Friend” ended up being on the biggest hits from the project as it discusses the patience of God as He waits for all that are His to come to faith before His return.

Dear friends He is not slow in keeping His promises
As some understand slowness to be
Keep a watch out, don’t lose faith, He said He would come for you
He’s gonna come for you, you wait and see

The album concludes with the funk driven lesson in apologetics, “Experience.” Peacock discusses the struggle between knowing something as fact and knowing it as true. These are questions of faith, doubt, Scripture, philosophy and how the Lord works with these differing factors to draw men to Him. This appears to be an early clue to Peacock’s later Reformed theology leanings and deeper doctrinal understandings.

There is a difference, a qualitative difference
Between what I know as a fact, and what I know as truth
It stands as a great divide to separate by thinking
From when I’m thinking foolishly and when I’ve understood

The facts of theology can be altogether cold
Though true in every way they alone can’t change me
Truth is creative, transforming and alive
it’s truth that keeps me humble, saved and set free

We can only possess what we experience

Peacock for the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit to  infiltrate the soul of a man and provide the necessary faith to embrace the truths presented.

Straight up honesty, that’s my obligation
That’s the point when I obey the truth without hesitation
When faith gains consent of my stubborn will
And makes the irreversible commitment real
To the Jesus of my journey, to the Christ of crucifixion,
Resurrection and redemption, to the Father of mercy,
To the God of all comfort
Then and only then, then and only then,
Then and only then, truth begins its
Saving and illuminating work within the heart
And not a moment sooner, not one moment sooner

Artist, author, innovator, producer, songwriter. Charlie Peacock is all of this and more. the term artist is thrown around quite loosely, but he is one that truly deserves the title.


10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Steve on February 16, 2010 at 2:33 am

    Ab-so-lute-ly! Of course, I’m anticipating a couple of other CP records as you move up the list (especially Lie Down In the Grass). Charlie Peacock is the single most talented man in Christian music, and one of the most gifted musicians in the world, period.


  2. I must say I do love this album and it help me thru a hard time in my life. I still remember seeing vector, 77’s and Peacock back in the day. when Warehouse in Sac use to put concert on every other saterday nite. It was great if wernt for band like these I dont where I would be. they sang how they felt and didnt care what the church thought. Because it came from the heart. And with that keep up the good work with this site. Your making me feel young again like I did when most of these albums came out. God Bless, Johnny


  3. The Secret Of Time was a welcome addition to Peacock’s output, with the groove and the funk remaining intact. I still think the Island Album is his best, but this comes dangerously close to the top spot.


  4. Posted by aarjayaitch on February 17, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Amen and Amen! The best and most succinct description I ever encountered of Charlie Peacock’s music: It has a great beat and you can think to it.


  5. Posted by Shawn McLaughlin on February 19, 2010 at 3:03 am

    Ever the dissenter, I have to say that, for me, Secret of Time was the record that “dumbed down” Charlie for the masses. Of the songs on the disc that were recorded before, I unilaterally prefer the prior takes.

    I would take Lie Down in the Grass, Charlie Peacock, West Coast Diaries I & II, Strange Language and Kingdom Come over Secret of Time, purely on artistic merit, not taking into account the impact on the CCM movement, the church etc.


  6. Posted by Shawn McLaughlin on February 20, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Oh, yeah….I’m an elitist snob, no doubt.

    I think the reason why our opinions differ on some things is because you have greater sentiment attached to a lot of these releases…..I came much later to the CCM “game” than you did….was not raised a Christian, and, therefore, had to find music in the ’80’s that competed with what I was listening to at the time (Husker Du, Replacements, Elvis Costello, Marshall Crenshaw, Squeeze etc.). I look almost solely at artistic credibility while you look at cultural AND market impact as well as the artistry. I think yours is a better way to go.


  7. Posted by Eddie Wicher on August 15, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Dear Friend is a gem from that time period of Christian music that is unmatched today and has been overlooked for the most part.


  8. Posted by paul on October 22, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    We went to a concert once with just Charlie ang Vince and were blown away by the sheer talent of those two. My favorite Charlie Peacock album is still “Lie down in the grass”.


  9. Posted by Scott on August 18, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Lie Dooowwn! (Does “Love In the Western World” exist on cd somewhere?


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