Saturday, January 21, 2012


     In the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music (2002) Mark Allan Powell writes the following regarding Don Francisco's conversion: "His life was turned around in 1974 when he says he heard the audible voice of God speak to him while he was meditating: 'Don, this is Jesus.  I love you.  Why do you keep running from me?'  Fifteen years later he would still relate the significance of this miraculous occurence: 'It was a voice as clear as if someone had been in the room with me.  In that instant, he showed me what He's really like and shattered all my religious preconceptions.  I'd found everything I'd been searching for."  In 1997 Francisco released HE'S ALIVE: COLLECTION VOL. 1.  It is re-recordings of some of his signature songs over the years.  It generously clocks in at just under an hour.  On it, Don is responsible for guitars, vocals, and midi programming, while Wendy nicely handles background vocals, cover photos and design.  Wendy is Don's wife and some will remember her from the 1980's duo Wendy and Mary.
     The CD begins with 'As It Was So It Shall Be.'  It is over seven minutes long and speaks of the glorious origins of the human race: "Then in glory unimaginable the Lord Himself is here/He kneels, and there beneath His hands, a man from dust appears/He lifts him gently in His arms, breaths into his soul/And raises Him to stand upright/Complete and free and whole."  'Adam, Where are You?' is compelling.  It tells of the tragic fall of the human race: "But the master of deception now begins with his dissection of the Word/And with all his craft and subtlety the serpent twists the simple truth they've heard/While hanging in the balance is a world that has been placed at their command/And all their unborn children die as both of them bow down to Satan's hand."  'Come and Follow' is based on the miracle of the catch of fish found in Luke 5:1-11: "Now James and John, they're both my witnesses/To the truth in what I've told you/And how our nets were filled to bursting/More than both our boats could ever hold/And I fell down there before Him/Crying 'Leave me, Lord-I'm full of sin!'/He said 'Simon, don't be frightened/Follow Me, you will learn to fish for men.'"
     'Gotta tell Somebody' is the rousing title track off of Don's 1979 album.  It recounts the miracle of Jesus raising Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:22-43) and the resulting reaction one would have at such an event: "Then He called His three disciples that were with Him on the way/He led them and my wife and me to where our daughter lay/He took her by the hand; He told her 'Child, arise'/And the words were barely spoken when she opened up her eyes...'I got to tell somebody (4X)/I got to tell somebody, got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me' (4X)."  'I Don't Care Where You've Been Sleepin'' has a country feel to it.  It's a call to the prodigal to come back home: "I don't care where you've been sleeping, I don't care who's made your bed/I've already gave my life to set you free/There's no sin you could imagine that is stronger than My love/And it's all yours if you'll come home again to Me."  'Willing to Heal' recounts Jesus' healing of a leper (Matthew 8:1-4): "I said 'Lord, if You're willing, I know that You can/Make me as clean as a natural man/I know You can do it, deep down in my soul/Oh Lord, if You're willing, Lord, please make me whole'/With a voice of compassion, He told me to stand/'I'm willing' He said and He reached out His hand/'Be cleansed' were the words that He spoke with a smile/And in an instant my skin was like that of a child."
     'I'll Never Let Go of Your Hand' is a soothing sounding testament to God's faithfulness: "The life that I have given you/No one can take away/'Cause I've sealed it with My Spirit, Blood, and Word/The everlasting Father/Has made His covenant with you/And He's stronger than the world you've seen and heard/So don't you fear to show them all the love I have for you/I'll be with you everywhere in everything I do/And even when you do it wrong/And miss the joy I've planned/I'll never, never let go of your hand/I'll never let go of your hand."  'He's Alive' is a pounding song from Don's second album 'Forgiven'.  It chronicles the events and untold joy of resurrection morning.  It won the 1980 Dove Award for Song of the Year, and even Dolly Parton has covered it!  It is presented from Peter's perspective: "We both ran toward the garden/Then John ran on ahead/We found the stone and empty tomb/Just the way that Mary said/But the winding sheet they wrapped Him in/Was just an empty shell/And how or where they'd taken Him/Was more than I could tell...He's alive, He's alive!/He's alive and I'm forgiven!/Heaven's gates are open wide!"  'Jesus is Lord of the Way I Feel' is relatively short.  It is a song of victory with a Carman-like calypso feel to it: "Praise the Lord! Hallelu! I don't care what the devil's gonna do!/The Word in faith is my sword and shield/And Jesus is Lord of the way I feel." 
     'I Have Chosen You' reminds us that the Lord is our help and our hope: "I have chosen you/And I will not turn you down/I have chosen you/You were born to wear a crown/I'll give you what you need to carry on/Till all that stands opposed to you is gone/I have chosen you/There's no need to run away/I have chosen you/Why do you doubt the words I say?/Through it all I've been right by your side/Ask me and you will not be denied."  'Too Small a Price' is a lengthy, but quite well done song, clocking in at eleven minutes!  It looks at the crucifixion from the perspective of one of the thieves crucified along with Jesus: "Then with all my courage, in a voice not quite my own/I asked Him, 'Lord, remember me when You come into Your throne'/He answered me and even then His love was undisguised/He said 'Before the sun has set today, you'll be with Me in Paradise'/The shouts and curses did not stop even when the sunlight ceased/But somehow in the midst of it my soul had been released/And though the agony continued, it was still too small a price/To be allowed to hear those words, and to die beside the Christ."  The end of the song features a choir God miraculously provided Don (read the CD insert) singing: "Jesus is the Lord of all/We have been redeemed/Joy! (4X)"  'Brother of the Son' is the title track of Don's debut 1976 album.  It has Don sharing his heart's desire with the Lord: "Father let Your Spirit flow inside me/Till all that will not praise You is undone/Help me keep my feet upon the highway/Grow to be a brother of the Son."
     I recommend HE'S ALIVE: COLLECTION VOL. 1 to fans of folk and adult contemporary pop music.  Those who enjoy story songs will value this album.  Fans of Michael Card and John Michael Talbot should enjoy it.  Those who appreciate biblical lyrics will approve.  I'm rating it 87%.  For more info visit and