Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I first became familiar with David Teems when he was the guitarist who accompanied John Schlitt of Petra a few years back when he played a solo show in Cambridge, Ontario, promoting his cd ‘The Grafting’. David Teems lives with wife Benita in Franklin, Tennessee. He earned his B. A. in Psychology at Georgia State University. He is the author of such books as ‘Majestie: The King Behind the King James Bible’ (2010) and ‘Discovering Your Spiritual Center’ (2011). I just finished reading his latest book. A press release says: “In an extensive new biography ‘Tyndale: The Man Who Gave God an English Voice’, author David Teems brings a spotlight to one of the most invisible heroes of the Christian faith for it’s not an exaggeration to say that William Tyndale’s brave life has impacted everyone who has ever picked up an English language Bible.”

William Tyndale was born circa 1494 in Gloucestershire, near the border of Wales. In 1526 he completed his first edition of his New Testament at Worms, Germany. He is also responsible for writing such great pieces as ‘The Parable of the Wicked Mammon’, ‘The Obedience of a Christian Man’, and ‘Practice of Prelates’. In 1534 he published his revised New Testament. On October 6, 1536 he was strangled and burned. Why? He was considered to be a heretic. His translating of the Scriptures into everyday English was strongly opposed by the Catholic Church, who preferred Latin, which the common man could not understand. Tyndale gave us phrases such as: ‘I am the Light of the world’, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’, ‘God is love’, ‘A thief in the night’, and ‘Death, where is thy sting?’ He gave us words such as: busybody, broken-hearted, castaway, and scapegoat. “Renowned literary critic and author Harold Bloom once said that William Tyndale is the ‘only true rival of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Walt Whitman as the richest author in the English language.’” Tyndale’s views on penance, purgatory, the pope, and transubstantiation also were seen as a threat to the Church of the day and those in power.

Reading this book will give you a good understanding not only of who Tyndale was and what great faith drove him, but will enlighten you in regards to other historical figures such as Cardinal Wolsey, John Stokesley (bishop of London), Erasmus, Luther, King Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More, and Tyndale’s ultimate betrayer Henry Phillips.

Today we take it forgranted that we have the Bible in our common language via numerous translations and paraphrases. But this was not always so, and it came at a very great price. Many gave their very lives for their faith and the truth of God’s word being made available to all. Tyndale also took a lot of flack for his belief in justification by faith.

My only criticism of this book is that Teems jumps forwards and backwards in time here and there, which can be somewhat confusing. Other than that, he is a great writer, with good use of quotations, facts, opinions and a subtle sense of humour. This is a must read for the modern day Christian and historian. It will give you a greater appreciation for Scripture and the English language, and will help you understand what true persecution is. For more info visit www.davidteems.com or www.thomasnelson.com. I'm rating TYNDALE: THE MAN WHO GAVE GOD AN ENGLISH VOICE 84%.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


I find this to be a facinating topic. In my past occupations I have been a beach gate attendant at a provincial park, a travel counselor, a cashier, a golf clubhouse attendant, and a factory line worker. For those not in the know, I am currently not working, due to longterm mental illness. My diagnoses include: generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, elements of obsessive compulsive disorder, and a phobia.

Unfortunately many in our society, Christian and non, still believe that if you are a REAL man, you will be the breadwinner, and not just on a pension. They might not come right out and say it, but that's what many of them are thinking. When I was living with my wife and children, and even now as I live alone, people still say well, if you were working you'd feel better about yourself, somehow more complete. Other people seem to be more concerned that I do not have a paying job, than I am. Funny thing is, if a woman is at home looking after kids or not, it is okay. Can you say sexism? I would like to make a few points for your consideration.

1. Having a paying job outside the home does not make you more valuable of a member of society or of your family. I know people who seem to make a habit of telling me how hard they worked that day or week, and how much money they made/make. One day I was at the park with my kids and I saw a former co-worker and I asked him how he was doing. He came back with, "I", emphasis on the "I", worked all day, I'm tired. The insinuation was that I was not really working because I was only involved in child care. Some people's ego rides on the fact that they have a job or a better job than you.

2 Another common thing I get, sometimes not in word, but just in how people treat me is, well Dave you can go out for coffee with a friend, or Dave you can go to the library and write music reviews, but you're telling me you can't work? Something just doesn't add up. The insinuation is that I am damn well faking it and could be working some. I have been guilty of this line of thinking towards other people as well.

3. There is a world of difference between me or someone else with mental illness doing something fun and holding down a job, a responsibility. If someone had a physical illness that prevented them from working, would you make them feel guilty about getting together with a friend for a couple hours or having a bit of fun. Would you expect them to be confined to their house, laying in their bed 24/7.

4. Before you make assumptions that I or anyone else with mental illnesses is faking it or being lazy and living off the government just cause they can, get to know the facts about mental illness. Do you truly know what it's like to live with severe panic attacks, phobias, anxieties, depression etc. If you don't I am available to talk with you. Call or message me anytime and I will tell you what it's like to be sitting in my living room watching tv and feel like I am being choked or could pass out due to an anxiety attack.

5. Listen folks, do you know how little money one lives on when they are on a disability pension? Do you not think I'd like to have more money? If I were at the point I could be working I would. If I ever enter the workplace again, it will only be through a lot of hard work, and people praying. If that time does not come for me, I refuse to believe I am of less value than you just cuz I don't have a paying job.

6. Another zinger is when people come to me and say things like: "Well, if you only had more faith and really wanted to be freed of your mental illnesses, then God would heal you. Healing is available for you." Unfortunately, Christians do that with people who have cancer and other physical ailments as well. It shows a complete and utter ignorance in my opinion. Yes, God does choose to 100% heal some folks on this earth, but others don't have that luxury for reasons only God knows.

7. My point is, if you know someone who has mental illness and you just don't understand them, and think they are kind of using it as an excuse not to work or do other things, get to know that person better. Learn to walk in their shoes.

8. Christians place so much authority on the Bible and its standards of perfection, that they don't allow for psychological issues people may have that predispose them to have certain compulsions, addictions, etc. Christians oft are not willing to extend grace and mercy, but point one big finger to the Word of God.

9. One final point. Many friends and family are so uncomfortable discussing mental illness, they show zero concern for the one suffering. It is like if one is mentally ill, they are akin to a leper. In other words, avoid the topic like the plague. This has dire consequences for both parties. Lack of understanding will prevail.

My cell is 519 375 5222.


Friday, October 05, 2012


“THE STORY is a collaborative movement by some of today’s most influential songwriters, artists, authors, directors, labels and publishers from around the world. The foundation for THE STORY began with Randy Frazee and Max Lucado in partnership with Zondervan to encourage all of us to rediscover Scripture like never before.” Sixteen of the eighteen songs on MUSIC INSPIRED BY THE STORY (2011, EMI Christian Music Group) have lyrics written by Nichole Nordeman, and music composed and arranged by Bernie Herms. Of the Bible characters these songs are about, the liner notes say: “We long to connect the current ‘us’ with the ancient ‘them’ in a more authentic way…It was their humanity that drew us deeper into these songs; not because they had a great story, but because a great God wrote them into His.” Bernie Herms and Brown Bannister produce and Norman Miller executive produces.

Disc One is labeled ‘Old Testament’ and runs 54:09. Genesis 1:31 reads: “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” ‘I AM (Creation) Overture’ starts things off. It is a pleasant orchestral arrangement by Bernie Herms. ‘Good (Adam and Eve)’ is a pulsating light rock number sung by Matthew West and Leigh Nash. Nash is lead vocalist for Sixpence None the Richer, famous for hits such as ‘Kiss Me’ and ‘There She Goes’. The song here begins with these words coming from the vantage point of Adam: “If I could/I’d rewrite history/I’d choose differently/If I could, I would/I’d leave out the part/Where I broke Your heart/In the garden’s shade/Fix the mess I made/If I could I would.” ‘Who But You (Abraham and Sarah)’ is a nice duet by Mark Hall and Megan Garrett from Casting Crowns and features a violin solo by Perry Montague-Mason. The song is heavier than most Casting Crowns fare and begins with these reflections of Abraham: “Too little too late/His time has come and gone/Is that what they say when I walk by?/I’ve got a little more grey/My steps are slow and long/And the promise You’ve made fades in the moonlight/I see a star/You see the Milky Way/I see one man counting sand/But You see generations.”

‘Bend (Joseph)’ is delivered by Brandon Heath who is a favourite of Carrie Underwood and won Male Vocalist of the Year at the 2010 Dove Awards. Luke Brown is on background vocals on this song that tells of the potential Joseph has when he walks in God’s will: “I am not my family tree/I have branches of my own…/Oh, does fate resign us to/Find shelter for our wounds/Beneath the battered roof of broken dreams?/Oh, but I will choose to stand/In the shadow of Your hand/And see what grows when Grace has sown the seed/Oh, oh, oh/These are different leaves you know.” Exodus 4:10 says: “And Moses said unto the Lord, ‘O my LORD, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue’”. ‘It Must Be You (Moses)’ by Bart Millard of MercyMe is a great pop song that reveals a total reliance on God: “If there’s anything good/Anything that’s good in me/Well, it must be You/Must be You/And if there’s any part of my shaking heart/To see this journey through/It must by You.” ‘Bring us Home (Joshua)’ is performed by Michael Tait (Newsboys), Blanca Callahan (Group 1 Crew) and hip hop artist Lecrae who helps Nordeman with the lyrics on this one. I had high hopes for this song musically, but it’s just okay. It does however declare a single-minded devotion to God: “Every turn is a new temptation/You want to bow down to something new/As for me and my generation we’ll serve/No one but You/Yahweh, oh Yahweh/Bring us a new day.”

Ruth says to her mother-in-law Naomi in Ruth 1:16: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay/Your people will be my people and your God my God.” ‘I’m With You (Ruth and Naomi)’ is a lovely duet between Nichole Nordeman and Christian music pioneer Amy Grant. Adam Lester plays guitars. I love these wonderfully descriptive words from the song: “Now I’m on my hands and knees/Trying to gather up my dreams/Trying to hold on to anything/And we could shake a fist in times like this/When we don’t understand/Or we could just hold hands.” ‘Your Heart (David)’ is presented by the highly acclaimed Chris Tomlin. Tomlin was born in 1972 and is responsible for such songs as ‘Jesus Messiah’ and ‘How Great is our God’. His contribution here is delivered with passion and proves that he has talent far beyond being a respected worship artist. The lyrics he sings contain a request all Christians should pray with sincerity. “At the end of the day, I wanna hear people say/My heart looks like Your heart (2X)/When the world looks at me, let them agree/That my heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart.” ‘No Compromise (Daniel)’ by Peter Furler is a mediocre rocker, not as good as most of his Newsboys-era songs. Dan Needham plays drums. The song starts with these words of confidence: “Throw me in the ring/Toss me to the flames/No one but my King/Walks me out unscathed/Feed me to the lions/Throw away the key/How will they deny/Who delivers me?/How could I love another?”

‘Born for This (Esther)’ is sung by Mandisa. She finished ninth on the fifth season of American Idol. This is a good pop/dance song with a catchy chorus and a cello solo by Anthony LaMarchina. These great lyrics speak of putting one’s faith into action: “There’s a time to hold your tongue/Time to keep your head down/There’s a time but it’s not now/Sometimes you gotta go, uninvited/Sometimes you gotta speak when you don’t have the floor/Sometimes you gotta move, when everybody else says you should stay/No way, no, not today…Sometimes you gotta stand apart from the crowd/Long before your heart could run the risk/You were born for this.” ‘Broken Praise (Job)’ by Todd Smith of Selah is a forgettable song until the latter part of it musically. It does though have a good message. Witness these lyrics that come from a place of deep spiritual maturity that few of us may attain: “But You were the One who filled my cup/And You were the One who let it spill/So blessed be Your holy Name if You never fill it up again/If this is where my story ends, just give me one more breath to say ‘Hallelujah’”.

Disc Two is labeled ‘New Testament’ and runs 40:03. It is likely the better of the two discs, but both are good. Luke 1:38 reads: “’I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” ‘Be Born in Me (Mary)’ is a beautiful ballad by Francesca Battistelli, the 2010 and 2011 Female Vocalist of the Year at the Dove Awards. It should be a staple on Christian radio at Christmas. These words imagine Mary’s inner struggle when she realized she would be carrying God’s Son: “If God is pleased with me, why am I so terrified?/Someone tell me I am only dreaming/Somehow help me see with Heaven’s eyes/And before my head agrees, my heart is on its knees/Holy is He/Blessed am I.” ‘When Love Sees You (Jesus)’ is a terrific ballad by Mac Powell from Third Day. It presents Jesus in a loving, compassionate, merciful light: “I see My Father’s fingerprints/I see your story, I see My Name/Written on every beautiful page/You see the struggle/You see the shame/I see the reason I came/I came for your wounds/To show you what Love sees when I see you.” ‘How Love Wins (Thief)’ is a vocal masterpiece by Steven Curtis Chapman. It is a good song for Easter Friday. It gets inside the head of the repentant thief at Calvary: “Only one of us deserves this cross/A suffering that should belong to me/And deep within this man I hang beside/Is the place where shame and grace collide/And it’s beautiful agony/That He believes it’s not too late for me.” ‘Alive (Mary Magdalene)’ finds Natalie Grant in familiar inspirational territory. It is the song of one who is thankful: “What kind of Love/Is writing my story/Til the end/With Mercy’s pen?/Only You/What kind of King/Would choose to wear a crown that bleeds and scars/To win my heart?” Tony Lucido plays bass. ‘Empty (Disciples)’ is a real treat, a duet between Dan Haseltine (Jars of Clay) and Matt Hammitt (Sanctus Real). It captures the possible train of thought of Jesus’ followers post-crucifixion and pre-Pentecost: “Now we’re huddled up here, trying to swallow our fear/We still smell the bread and wine, hear Your words running through our minds/Holding our breath now, for what comes next now/Holding out for some kind of sign.” On ‘Move in Me (Paul)’ Jeremy Camp does a good job in country territory, similar to Russ Taff. Gabe Scott plays dobro. The song finds Paul sharing his conversion story: “The man I buried/Had a heart of stone/Left him there in the bright light/Out on a dirt road/The day You saved me/From shadow and shame/Old things gone, got a new song/Got a new name.” Matthew 25:31 says: “The Son of Man will come again in His great glory, with all His angels. He will be King and sit on His great throne.” ‘The Great Day (Second Coming)’ is a duet between Michael W. Smith and Darlene Zschech, both musical heavyweights in their own right. This song has a great prologue and orchestral arrangement by Carl Marsh, as well as a choir that is led by Chance Scoggins. The song tries to capture the essence of the Glorious Event yet to come: “Rescued by hands bleeding grace/Are we ready to see His face?/On the great day/He will come to claim us with a rushing wind/Blown like fields of wheat, the world will bow and bend/Held between our joy and disbelief/Every trembling heart will finally face the same way/On the great day.”

In the liner notes for this double CD, Nichole Nordeman and Bernie Herms write: “It is our deep hope that as you experience The Story, you might have a new encounter with these iconic men and women who still have much to teach us from the living, breathing pages of Scripture. And perhaps, an arresting encounter as well, with the Author of their stories and ours. He is, after all, still writing…” MUSIC INSPIRED BY THE STORY fully accomplishes its purpose. It will reinvigorate your faith in God’s goodness and love towards you. It will refresh your faith and walk with God. It will draw you closer to the One who made you if you let it! I recommend this two-disc CD to fans of Christian pop and adult contemporary music, as well as to those exploring the heart of Christianity. I’m rating MUSIC INSPIRED BY THE STORY 90%. It’s a great listen! For more info visit www.thestory.com and www.thestorycd.com. Be sure to check out Nichole Nordeman’s book LOVE STORY as well. It’s a good companion to this project.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


Karyn Williams is the oldest daughter of Orlando Magic Senior Vice President and founder Pat Williams. Karyn’s folks had five kids of their own and adopted fourteen from countries such as Brazil and the Philippines. Karyn relocated from Orlando to Nashville in 2007. She prayed: “Lord I promise to walk through every door that You open no matter what.” Her 2012 label debut for Inpop Records is ONLY YOU. In the liner notes she writes: “First and foremost, I want to give every bit of honor and praise to You Jesus for paving the way to make this record. My passion and goal in life is very simple-to point people to You. Thank You for allowing me to do that through these songs. I pray that every lyric I write, every song that I sing and every move that I make is acceptable in your sight.” Karyn was featured in Billboard magazine as one of the ‘Best Bets’ of 2012.

A nice pop song, ‘Call’, starts things off. The writers are her now husband Brian White, and CCM artist Ben Glover, who is best known to many for his song ’26 Letters’. ‘Call’ tells of God’s faithfulness: “To your lowest lows, to your highest highs/There’s nowhere you can go that He won’t find you/So just lay yourself down at His feet/Just open up your heart and let Him save you/Call, call, just call on Him (2X)/When your faith is broken and you’re on your knees again/When your hope is stolen and you just can’t find a friend/Call, call and He’ll come runnin’ (2X).” ‘Every Good Thing’ has a bit of a groove to it and has a similarity when it comes to vocal delivery, to Tammy Trent. It is a song of testimony: “You’re every bit of hope in the middle of a desperate prayer/When what I need is sweet release Lord, You take me there/And when the world is pressing down on me/You shake the ground and move my feet to a new place/And I feel so free.” ‘Rest in the Hope’ is the beautiful lead single inspired by her Dad’s fight with cancer: “You are the truth that never changes/You are the love that came to save us, I am Yours/Even through all my fear and sorrow/Facing a new unknown tomorrow I am sure/That I’m gonna rest in the hope that I’m Yours.” Her Dad is now in remission.

‘Just May Be’ finds Tim Lauer on piano and Matt Pierson on bass. I could hear Point of Grace or Avalon performing it. It is about adoption and is a call to action: “You just may be/The answer to a prayer, the one to meet a need/And you just may be the only heaven some will ever see/Oh the one who leads them to believe/The only heaven some will see, you just may be.” ‘Banner’ is a bouncy pop number, that is one of three on this project penned by Sarah Hart and Karyn Williams. The song speaks of how evil calls our name, trying to destroy us, but God relentlessly pursues us: “I wander all the time, I lose my place in line/Do You look down and wonder how I get so lost?/All the world’s a feast, yeah it’s so tempting/Maybe so but that’s what Your light is for/It’s finding me, I love the way it’s finding me.” One of the writers on ‘Waiting in the Rain’ is veteran CCM artist Chris Eaton. The song finds Blair Masters on piano and also uses strings, violins, viola, and cello. This ballad contains lyrics all of us can relate to at some point in our lives: “It’s all that I can do to get through one more night/If only I could feel Your arms holding me so tight/I’d be alright/You know I’m only human, made of flesh and bone/My heart is so afraid, have I been left here all alone?”

‘Hey There’ paints a picture of a person in a very vulnerable state: “Everyday it seems you’re lost in the mirror/There’s no reflection anymore, it’s disappeared/Does anybody ever think about who you are or what you’ve done?/Does the sun seem to fade as it’s going/Another day is gone without ever knowing/That the life you live means anything/To anyone?” Matthew 19:26 says: “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” ‘Possible’ is a danceable, techno type song that offers hope to us all: “Every dream, every plan is possible, possible/When it’s in bigger hands it’s unstoppable, stoppable/I’m living with a confidence/No matter what I’m up against/There is One who makes it all make sense/And with Him everything is possible.” ‘Enough for Me’ is a prayer for single-minded spiritual devotion: “You, all I need is You, Jesus/Let it be just You/Be enough for me/Take my heart Lord make it Yours/Know my thoughts, steal away my soul/Take my heart like only You could/Oh Lord.”

‘This is Freedom’ is one of the strongest tracks and is poetic praise for what Christ accomplished for us at Calvary: “Now these shackles that have held me down/Are unleashed by thorn and crown/Sweet forgiveness pouring from Your brow/Your life for mine, no greater love/And this is freedom, this is freedom/This is freedom, nailed to a tree/And this is freedom, oh blessed freedom/This is freedom, You died for me.” Jason Webb plays piano. Interestingly, the title track is last. ‘Only You’ conveys a desire to see the Lord clearly: “Standing at a crossroad in the dead of night/Waiting for the dark to fade into the light/Until there’s only You/’Til there’s only You.”

Karyn Williams’ musical influences growing up included Sandi Patty, Steven Curtis Chapman, the Judds, and Faith Hill. Karyn has a beautiful voice rich in tone, and she has a lot of good things to say. ONLY YOU is a promising label debut! She should have a promising career and ministry in Contemporary Christian Music. This album will leave you feeling ministered to and encouraged. She writes in the liner notes: “In the end there’s only one thing that matters-whether or not we knew and served Jesus Christ. I pray that we never lose sight of that. Dare to live!!!” I recommend ONLY YOU to fans of Kari Jobe, Cindy Morgan, and Carrie Underwood. I’m rating it 85%. For more info visit www.karynwilliams.com and www.inpop.com.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was born on September 23, 1949 in Long Branch, New Jersey. He was raised Roman Catholic. His first album was 1973’s GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK, N. J. He became one of my early rock star heroes with the release of 1984’s BORN IN THE U.S.A. The album cover was Annie Leibovitz’s photo of his jean covered backside, with him facing an American flag. Songs included ‘I’m On Fire’, ‘Glory Days’, and ‘Dancing in the Dark’. I also enjoy his 2009 album WORKING ON A DREAM which includes ‘Outlaw Pete’, ‘My Lucky Day’, and ‘This Life’. Before releasing his seventeenth studio album WRECKING BALL (2012, Columbia Records), Bruce was working on a gospel record. WRECKING BALL is his tenth Number one album in the U.S. tying him with Elvis Presley for third most Number one albums of all time behind the Beatles and Jay-Z. It was mainly recorded at Stone Hill Studio at Springsteen’s home studio at his Colts Neck, New Jersey farm house. Springsteen is credited for vocals, guitars, banjo, piano, organ, drums, percussion, and loops. Background vocalists include Patty Scialfa, Soozie Tyrell, and Lisa Lowell.

‘We Take Care of Our Own’ is one of thirty or forty songs he had penned for the gospel record. The song is upbeat and patriotic: “I been knocking on the door that holds the throne/I been looking for the map that leads me home/I been stumbling on good hearts turned to stone/The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone/We take care of our own (2X)/Wherever this flag’s flown/We take care of our own.” ‘Easy Money’ has a joyous sound to it with Steve Jordan on tambourine. It has playful lyrics that for some reason make me think of the Flintstones: “You put on your coat, I’ll put on my hat/You put out the dog, I’ll put out the cat/You put on your red dress, you’re looking real good honey/We’re going on the town now looking for easy money.” ‘Shackled and Drawn’ has Clif Norell on tuba and has a rootsy, gospel feel to it. It speaks of the large gap between labourers and bosses: “Gambling man rolls the dice, working man pays the bill/It’s still fat and easy up on banker’s hill/Up on banker’s hill the party’s going strong/Down here below we’re shackled and drawn.”

‘Jack of All Trades’ is a pretty ballad that speaks again of the wide divide between workers and bosses and yearns for a spiritual resolution: “The hurricane blows, brings a hard rain/When the blue sky breaks, it feels like the world’s gonna change/We’ll start caring for each other like Jesus said that we might/I’m a jack of all trades, we’ll be alright/The banker man grows fat, the working man grows thin/It’s all happened before and it’ll happen again.” ‘Death to my Hometown’ has a parade marching band feel to it. It contains excerpts from Alan Lomax’s ‘The Last Words of Copernicus’. Springsteen admonishes his audience: “Now get yourself a song to sing and sing it ‘til you’re done/Yeah, sing it hard and sing it well/Send the robber barons straight to hell/The greedy thieves who came around/And ate the flesh of everything they found/Whose crimes have gone unpunished now/Who walk the streets as free men now.” ‘This Depression’ shows a vulnerable side of Bruce and has a darker feel to it: “Baby, I’ve been down but never this down/I’ve been lost but never this lost/This is my confession, I need your heart/In this depression, I need your heart.”

The title track, ‘Wrecking Ball’ is strong. It is about the 2010 demolition of Giants Stadium. It has a warm sound musically, but finds Bruce defiant: “I was raised out of steel here in the swamps of Jersey, some misty years ago/Through the mud and the beer, and the blood and the cheers, I’ve seen champions come and go/So if you got the guts mister, yeah, if you got the balls/If you think it’s your time, then step to the line, and bring on your wrecking ball.” ‘You’ve Got It’ uses a horn section and is a well delivered song of passion: “Yeah, you can’t read it in a book, and you can’t even dream it/Honey, it ain’t got a name, you just know it when you see it/Baby you’ve got it, yeah, baby you’ve got it/Come on and give it to me.” ‘Rocky Ground’ uses excerpts from Alan Lomax’s ‘I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord’. It features the vocal singing and rapping talents of gospel singer Michelle Moore. It is a very creative song musically and speaks of a very real spiritual struggle: “You pray that hard times, hard times come no more/You try to sleep , you toss and turn, the bottom’s dropping out/Where you once had faith, now there’s only doubt/You pray for guidance, only silence now meets your prayers/The morning breaks, you awake but no one’s there/We’ve been travelling over rocky ground, rocky ground/There’s a new day coming.”

‘Land of Hope and Dreams’ was composed circa 1998/9. It features the Victorious Gospel Choir, and a great sax solo by late great E Street Band member Clarence Clemons. This almost seven minute long tune is celebratory and speaks of people travelling to their eternal home: “Well, this train carries saints and sinners/This train carries losers and winners/This train carries whores and gamblers/This train carries lost souls/I said, this train, dreams will not be thwarted/This train, faith will be rewarded/This train, hear the steel wheels singing/This train, bells of freedom ringing.” ‘We are Alive’ has Max Weinberg on drums and makes use of the horn riff from Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’. The song gives voice to those who’ve passed on from this earth: “We are alive/And though our bodies lie alone here in the dark/Our souls and spirits rise/To carry the fire and light the spark/To fight shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart/To stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart/We are alive.”

The special edition of the album includes two bonus tracks. ‘Swallowed up (In the Belly of a Whale)’ has Dan Shelly on bassoon and Mark Romatz on contra bassoon, and sounds haunting. One can’t help but think of Jonah when listening to it: “I fell asleep on a dark and starlit sea/With nothing but the cloak of God’s mercy over me/I come upon strange earth and a great black cave/I dreamt I awoke as if buried in my grave/We’ve been swallowed up (2X)/Disappeared from this world/We’ve been swallowed up.” ‘American Land’ has a Celtic feel to it. I picture highland dancing going on. Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band plays mandolin. The lyrics tell of the sad plight of many immigrants to the U.S.: “They come across the water a thousand miles from home/With nothing in their bellies but the fire down below/They died building the railroads, they worked to bones and skin/They died in the fields and factories, names scattered in the wind/They died to get here a hundred years ago, they’re still dying now/Their hands that built the country, we’re always trying to keep out.”

This record should be used as a tutorial for up and coming artists and as a refresher for some veteran artists on how to make a spectacular rock album. WRECKING BALL oozes with talent, guts, and heart. There is not one song you should skip over. This truly is the Boss at his best! We, his fans, have much to be thankful for! I’m rating it near perfection at 98%. For more info visit www.brucespringsteen.net.