Over the last few months I’ve spent a lot of quality time listening to Caedmon’s Call and filling in some gaps in my music collection. Just before heading out on my recent trip to Tennessee, I found and ordered a copy of their third “Guild” album. The Guild albums were for their committed fans and often included live cuts, instrumentals, and songs that never quite made it to a studio album. When I found the album (from the year 2000), I ordered it and had it sent to Tennessee, where it waited for me to make my trek west to see some friends in Kentucky. While the collection has a number of anticipated moments and tracks (“Hope to Carry On” and “God of Wonders”), there were also a number of really nice surprised. My five favorite moments from the album:
- I wasn’t expecting to find a piano-infused rendition of “Standing Up for Nothing.” The song has long been a favorite (what a bridge!), and the piano coming in at the first chorus gave it a nice distinction from the album version. Also interesting: this version goes with the more grammatically pleasant “I’m not” instead of “I ain’t.” It’s the little things.
- There are two snippets of childhood performances by band members. The best involved an organ-y take on “The Lord is in His Holy Temple” that includes the most hilarious “shush” I’ve ever heard recorded. Ah, childhood musicals.
- Two tracks include vocal performances by fans that I wasn’t expecting. The first is a medley of Caedmon’s songs (a selection from a 45-minute piece) that weaves the words and keys of some of the band’s most popular songs together seamlessly. The second is an a capella version of “This World,” which isn’t something you’d expect to find at all ever.
- It’s always interesting when musicians make nods to other (often more popular) songs in their set. One totally unexpected moment from the album involves Derek Webb, Bebo Norman, and “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. It’s the total opposite of the time I heard The Normals segue into U2’s “Wake Up Dead Man” and Mark Heard’s “Nod Over Coffee.”
- Near the end of the album is an excerpt from a video shoot with Rich Mullins. You hear his song “You Did Not Have a Home” being played while people are talking. After more than a verse and chorus of the song, it stops and then you hear Rich talking. Not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that. What a nice moment of a kind of grace.
Honorable Mentions: an early and acoustic version of “Can’t Lose You” and a (much) shorter rendition of “There’s a Stirring,” which I’ve had on my mind a lot since Texas days.
It’s an odd but encouraging thing to revisit music from this particular band at this particular place in their career. It reminds me of a more thoughtful, literate, and engaging approach to the Christian faith. It was both a simpler but more complicated time, where you often “just didn’t want coffee.” I played the album throughout the rest of my visit home and am really glad to add it to my collection. It’s also spurring on some good thoughts for me, thoughts that I hope to play with over the next few weeks and days here in this short space between summer break and the fall semester of teaching.