Steven Curtis Chapman was born on November 21, 1962 in Paducah, Kentucky. He released his first album, FIRST HAND, in 1987. THE LIVE ADVENTURE (1993, Sparrow) was his sixth album. It was recorded live in Seattle, Washington on May 6, 1993 and was produced by Phil Naish and Steven. It won a Grammy for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album in 1994. In the liner notes Steven writes: “Heavenly Father, thank You for allowing me to share from a platform far greater than I ever imagined, a love and grace far greater than any could deserve. You alone are worthy!”
The album begins with the short, majestic sounding instrumental ‘Prologue’ accompanied by audience excitement. This is followed by ‘The Great Adventure’, a rousing, motivational pop song co-written by Steven and Geoff Moore: “Saddle up your horses/We’ve got a trail to blaze/Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace/Let’s follow our leader into the glorious unknown/This is a life like no other, yeah/This is the Great Adventure!/Come on get ready for the ride of your life/Gonna leave long-faced religion in a cloud of dust behind/And discover all the new horizons just waiting to be explored/This is what we were created for”.
‘That’s Paradise’ is a great country/rock story song: “Jimmy and Mary were quite a pair back in their younger days/They met and married in six weeks time and that was sixty years ago this May/Four kids made a house a home and a love for Jesus kept them strong/Now every morning at 8 a.m. Jimmy takes a drive through town/He spends his days at Mary’s side at a home for the old and broken down/With a cane in his lap and a Bible in his hand/He reads her stories about the promised land/With tears in their eyes they dream of a place/Where everything changes in the light of Jesus’ face/And that’s paradise”. The next track, ‘Introduction’, is a short one, where Steven thanks the audience for coming and names Jesus as the Guest of honor.
‘Go There With You’ is a beautiful love ballad Steven wrote for his wife Mary Beth: “I see it in your tears, you wonder where we are/The wind is growing colder and the sky is growing dark/Though it’s something neither of us understands/We can walk through this together if we hold each other’s hand/I said for better or worse I’d be with you/So no matter where you’re going, I will go there too/I will take a heart whose nature is to beat for me alone/And fill it up with you, make all your joy and pain my own/No matter how deep a valley you go through/I will go there with you”. ‘Busy Man’ contains these thought provoking words: “You’ve got a lot of nice things there Billy/They’ve cost you more than you know/What is it really worth, can you tell me/If you’re gaining the whole world, but you’re losing your soul?”
At this point in the live concert, we have a cut entitled ‘Great Adventure Stuff’. It imagines what the hit song would have sounded like if it had been composed as a bluegrass, swing, and country song. Though fun to listen to the first time, you’ll likely want to skip over this one on future listens. What follows is a lovely, lengthy ‘Acoustic Medley’ of six of Chapman’s quieter songs. It begins with part of ‘My Redeemer is Faithful and True’, a co-write with James Isaac Elliott. It offers these words of testimony: “As I look back on this road I’ve travelled/I see so many times He’s carried me through/And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my life/My Redeemer is faithful and true (2X)/And everything He has said He will do/And every morning His mercies are new/My Redeemer is faithful and true/Jesus is faithful and true”.
‘Family Talk’ is next. We learn that at the time, Steven and Mary Beth had three kids: Emily (7), Caleb (3), and Will Franklin (2). Steven encourages us to come to Jesus as kids acknowledging our needs and weaknesses. He cares and wants to meet our needs. He doesn’t take away all of our troubles, but He can give us love, life, and peace in the midst of them. God wants a personal relationship with us. ‘More to this Life’ is an adult contemporary ballad that describes the need for living with a purpose: “Tonight he lies in silence staring into space/And looks for ways to make tomorrow better than today/But in the morning light he looks to say/Life just goes on and on and on/He takes care of his family, he takes care of his work/And every Sunday morning he takes his place at the church/But somehow he still feels the need to search/Baby, life it just goes on/There’s more to this life than living and dying/More than just trying to make it through the day”.
‘For the Sake of the Call’ is a CCM anthem of total dedication to Jesus Christ: “Once we hear the Savior’s call, we’ll follow wherever He leads/Because of the love He has shown/And because He has called us to go, we will answer/We will abandon it all for the sake of the call/No other reason at all, but the sake of the call/Wholly devoted to live and to die/For the sake of the call”. Steven wrote the ballad ‘I Will Be Here’ as a love song of commitment to his wife Mary Beth, after watching his parents go through a divorce. The song begins: “Tomorrow morning if you wake up and the sun does not appear/I, I will be here/If in the dark we lose sight of love/Hold my hand and have no fear/Cause I, I will be here/I will be here when you feel like being quiet/When you need to speak your mind/I will listen/And I will be here when the laughter turns to crying/Through the winning, losing, and trying/We’ll be together/Cause I will be here”.
‘My Turn Now’ is a bouncy pop song about reciprocal love: “He gave His life and His love away/And now He’s asking me to do the same/I wanna give Him all I have/And all I ever hope to be/Cause it’s my turn now/My turn now/My turn to give my life away.../My turn to say ‘I love Him’/It’s your turn to let Him know it/Our lives are His so where He leads us that’s where I wanna go”. Closing off the concert is an energetic pop co-write with Phil Naish, called ‘No Better Place’. It is a celebration: “I know this road we travel on is very straight and narrow/I’ve looked down other roads along the way/And from all I’ve seen I can say without a doubt/There’s no better place on earth than the road that leads to Heaven/No other place I’d rather be/No better place on earth than the road that leads to Heaven/No better place to be”.
THE LIVE ADVENTURE is a fun, lively pop concert with distinct Christian themes. The main themes are love for and dedication to God and His purposes, and love for one’s life partner. I recommend this concert CD to fans of Michael W. Smith and Kenny Marks. The audience is clearly into the show, which features a good mix of Chapman’s more upbeat CCM pop material, and his tender, heartfelt ballads. His band here is: Dennis Kurttila (drums), Dale Oliver (lead guitar), Dave Cleveland (rhythm guitar), Scott Sheriff (keyboards), and Arlin Troyer (bass). The concert runs 72:10. I’m rating it 85%. For more info visit: www.stevencurtischapman.com.