Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Kirk Jordan's 117 Greatest Songs in the History of the Universe

Started out to be 100, but I just couldn't stop

Just in case anyone doesn't get it... I am not really making the case that this is the best music in the history of our shared Universe, just my little section.  These are songs that have deeply impacted my life along the journey; many remain fixed parts of my being.  (If you are one of the artists on this list I want to thank you ever so much.)

It will be readily apparent that I am given to music anchored in a life of devotion.  I believe that at the center of reality is a great love story between God and man. Many of these songs (but not all) are written by persons who share my deep awareness of God, through Jesus.  On a different note:  I think I could have made a good pagan.

As for gospel themes,  not much of this is of the variety that gets played in the sound-alike world of Christian radio.  You will find my tastes tend to the edges  --  pastoral suites, folk-a-billy,  even gospel themed punk... just not much from the high production middle.   My hope --Even if you do not like (or do not think you like) music of religious sensibilities -- that you will give some of these tracks a whirl. Christian music is not unlike the broader music field, the best music rarely makes the radio... you have to search for it.

My original goal was to choose no more than one song by any one artist.  I failed.  There are a few people who have had such a commanding presence in my life and ear that they get more than one selection.

So, How many of these tunes do you know?  

How many do you also love?

Do any of these songs surprise you?

What would be your top 100 choices? (or perhaps top three)?

* In the creation of this list I made extensive use of a "service" called Grooveshark.  One of the artists I feature on this list responded to my direct query, and reported that Grooveshark engages in flagrant copy-write violation.   I simply did not know, but it makes sense.  There is the music, and it is free.   I in turn, offered to undo all my Grooveshark links...

His thought...Not necessary (and may the bastards hang). But the days of Grooveshark may be numbered.

As is, I am leaving the links here for the time being...But may, if I get other feedback, take them down.  My goal is that you get to know this incredible music.   But I do not wish to do anything that takes away from the artists I have featured.  To be honest, I do not understand the whole digital dynamic, I appreciate that it is now much easier to that and discover artists, but must wonder how any artist can make money in a world where product is simply there full form.

That stands for Youtube and Spotify too.  May I strongly encourage you to join me, in purchasing music directly from the artists whenever possible.

Top Ten (today)

Waltz with You: Jan Krist, Wing and a Prayer

Your Light: Phil Keaggy: It's Personal  //  Could this be my favorite song in the Universe?  Yes.  And it may surprise you.  Keaggy in known as a guitar virtuoso.  But he knows when to leave the flourish behind.   This is like having the skin of reality rolled back, till you find out the whole thing is laid out before the very throne.

And He Shall Purify:  Handle; The Messiah    This song, more than any other in Messiah Puts shivers in my soul.

Nothing but the Wind:  Mark Heard;  Satellite Sky

Resplendent: Vigilantes of Love: Slow Dark Train

Morning's Anthem:  Arkangel (I so hope to do a mini-film to this someday.)

They are Filled:  the Last Bison; Quill
Bonus: Setting our Tables.  This is not my favorite Last Bison Song, but it is my favorite Last Bison video

Revelator: Josh Garrels:  Love and War and the Sea In-between

When the Moonlight Sleeps: Daniel Amos.  (I am glad Daniel Amos Ie (Terry Taylor) uses so many names... DA, Terry, Lost Dogs, Swirling Eddies... cause that way I could use more of his music;)

Heaven's Door: Jeff Johnson (It takes a lifetime to learn to create music of this restraint.)

Could'a been top ten too.

Power of Love: Ashley Cleveland  (Let this one melt your socks off.)

God Went Bowling:  Swirling Eddies: Zoom Daddy

Victims of the Age: Mark Heard

Jokerman: Bob Dylan

Zion: Lauryn Hill

Heart of the Matter: Bob Bennett; Matters of the Heart.  (Great Album)

One More Time:  Terry Scott Taylor: Knowledge and Innocence

Revelation:  Iona; Book of Kells

Sweet Work of Love: The Lost Dogs; The Green Room Serenade. (How is your ear for dissonance:)

River on Fire: Adam Again; Dig (Could this be the saddest song in the Universe?)

The Music of my kid-hood.

I grew up in a deeply musical home.  Dad played guitar, yuke and banjo.   Mother loved hymns.   Seems the certain things presented to my ear in early life cut deep grooves...

You Can't Roller-skate in a Buffalo Herd: Roger Miller (this was a song my dad played.)

Ghost Riders in the Sky: Johnny Cash (My dad sang this when I was a kid)

Grandmother's Feather Bed: John Denver:  Another growing up song.

A Taste of Honey: Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass.  (This was one of my Dad's albums.  The cover, with a voluptuous model covered in whip cream... is one of those things that stirred my sense of what it meant to be a man, even at age 8.   Then a friend and I (Alfonzo from NYC) used this music to do gymnastic routines in our living room... complete with capes and goggles.  rEally.

Oh What a Beautiful Morning; from the musical Oklahoma  (Moved from NewYork to Oklahoma in the 8th grade.  This became a family travel singalong song.

Cloudburst/Grand Canyon Suite: Ferde Grofe.  This, in combination with The Hall of the Mountain King (Grieg)  and the opening strains of the Rite of Spring by Stravinsky fully captivated my kid-hood soul.   My Dad had a Reader's Digest Record Collection of the World's greatest Composers.  I wore this, and those other "disks" out.

I hear a Symphony: Diana Ross and the Supremes.   Not sure when I first heard this... but it was the soundtrack for my first ardent crush.  Karen Wayne, 3rd grade through 6.  And no, it was not reciprocated.

I hear Music (Over My Head) Kings X - Probably my only heavy metal inclusion. This song in not from my kidhood, but it follows nicely on the heals of "I hear a Symphony."

Time in a Bottle: Jim Croce  Could have put this with the love songs... but it belongs most specifically to young woman who would consume my Jr High years...Miss Tammy Marrs.   I wonder where in life she is now.

Transitions  (or big, Bold and brassy)  Not all of this music in this next section belongs directly to my late adolescent years, but a lot of it does.  I grew up in home without Rock and Roll.  Mom had convictions, and dad just liked other stuff.   I think the first time I ever really listened to rock was at a summer camp.  A counselor had Chicago's Greatest Hits.  The first seconds just blew me away.  A year or so later I would switch from my Christian Day school, to Booker T Washington high, opening up new vistas of music, much of it with an R&B flavor.

25 or 6 to 4:  Chicago   First listen just blew me away.  Until then I simply never listened to Rock.  Ever.  Not part of our home.

September: Earth Wind and Fire   Joe Fields, Booker T Washington High introduced me.  Loved the album covers of EWandFire.

I Wish: Stevie Wonder; Songs in the Key of Life  - A friend and I did a mime/dance to this song in a high-school assembly.

Give Up the Funk: (George Clinton, Parliament and the Funkadelic.)  I debated a bit about including this.  I have no doubt that George Clinton is brilliant...but he is often debased.  This song is one that I heard every Friday night when I went to the highschool dances at Booker T. Washington High.

Later years, but with an ear for brass

Experience: Charlie Peacock; The Secret of Time.

Where it all started.  As mentioned, I grew up in a home where music held the day... But my first listen to Master and the Musician by Phil Keaggy introduced me a music that was fully my own.   It was like I was hearing music that was already written somewhere deep inside.  It so happened that I heard this music concurrently with profound spiritual reformation.  Simply stated, I felt lifted to the heavenlies.

I did not know it then, but I was hearing a music that was new for many.  Jesus Music, as a phenomena was in its infancy, and characterized by unbridled creativity and and spiritual vitality.   (thoughts to follow)

Suite of Reflections:  (1978?)  Phil Keaggy (Master and the Musician)  Note it takes  minute or two for the audio surprise.

Love, Peace, Joy:  2nd Chapter of Acts

So you Wanna Go Back to Egypt: Keith Green

Songs of Sin and Salvation

The Horrendous Disk: Daniel Amos: The Horrendous Disk  Pretty much the most epicist mini-opera in the world, in the tradition of Bohemian Rhapsody.

The Stellazine Prophecy:  Michael Roe.  (This album was realeased in two versions, one general market, the other Christian book store.  This did not make the Christian version.  Yes.  He did say that.

Turkish Delight: Matthew Ward:  2nd Chapter of Acts

God's Gonna Cut You Down:  Johnny Cash

All the Mercy We Have Found:  Vigilantes of Love; Slow Dark Train  (Can you hear that belching locomotive?)

Psalm 51: John Michael Talbot  (When I played this as a young man in our home, my mom pleaded for me to turn it off.  She said it made her want to die.  Mom drank her gospel southern.)

Burnt:  Pat Nobody.   (Can the same brain that loved the beautiful lament of the John Michael Talbot like the agitated sounds of Pat Nobody.  yes.  Best part.  Last five seconds.

The New South: the Gotee Brothers

You Can Save Me: Beautiful Eulogy; Instruments of Mercy

This is my brain on Color

Rainbow: Randy Stonehill

So Much to Say: Take 6 (maybe not the greatest Take 6 song, but what a performance.)

Colours: Resurrection Band (I once played air guitar to this song in an airband contest.  Funny, it isn't nearly as powerful to me now, but as a young man, my brain went on a visual extravaganza whenever I heard this song.

Tears are like Flowers: Sarah Masen

Monet's Failing Eyes:  Jeff Johnson  I once played this music in a college art class... I remember the baffled look of a fellow student when he asked... is he playing in tongues?

When Words Fail

Wedding Rain: Liz Story.  Solid Colors.  (I might have chosen An Unaccountable Effect, by the same artist, but I could not find a link.

Autumn: George Winston.  (this Link happens to feature the whole album, which ain't bad)

A Love Supreme: John Coltrane

Blue is Green:  Miles Davis (This is as spare, as John Coltrane was loud:)

Parks on Fire: Trifonics  Hmmm.  Not sure why I am including this.  It has little in common with most of the music I listen to, but when a friend sent this to me I was kinda blown away.  This sounds like music at the microbe level.   Kinda creepy and astonishing all at once.

When it comes to instrumentals the question is: which of Phil Keaggy's works to feature:  I could feature dozens, but here are three offerings that suggest the range of his abilities.

Symphonic Dance:  Phil K from the album Beyond Nature
The Great Escape: Phil K. from 220.  (Could this be the greatest rock instrumental ever?)
Litany to the Spirit:  Phil K. Inseparable.   Not a total instrumental, but that closing section may just sound like heaven is making war fin your head.

Peer Gynt: David Garrett.  Confession, I was looking for the Morning Song from the Peer Gynt Suite, discovered this and love what this guy is doing.

Chrystal Night: Amy Shreeve  (Link is to the whole album Peace in the Puzzle.  I hope she doesn't mind.  Pretty much the most beautiful harp music in the world.

Lake Yarina: Josh Garrels

It's a broken world

Frail:  Jars of Clay; Much Afraid

Little White Lies: Mo Leverett: For the Benefit of Desire.

Another Victim: Paul Clark; Aim for the Heart

Waiting Room: Sixpence None the Richer

the Chair:  Resurrection Band; Mommy Don't love Daddy Anymore

Sunday Bloody Sunday: U2, War.  (looks like the Link is good for the whole album)

Man in Black (Punk Version); One Bad Pig with Johnny Cash.

I'm Just a Man: Undercover; Branded  (man I forgot about this .... Wow.)

Charity of Night:  Bruce Cockburn

Broken Things: Julie Miller

Make it Go Away: Mo Leverett

The Hopeless Romantic

Tonight: From the West Side Story (first heard performed by Booker T Washington Rep theater)

In the Garden of of Ein Gedi: Andrew Rose Gregor and the Color Red Band.

Canticle for the Bride: John Michael Talbot: For the Bride

No One But You: Mark Heard; Eye of the Storm

Georgia Moon: Pierce Pettis

With you I am Born Again:  Billy Preston and Syretta Wright

Concert for a Queen: Resurrection Band

Without You: Crash Dog  (I suspect this may be an acquired taste.)

It's Me: Sara Groves:  Fireflies and Songs.  (cause its not all peaches and cream)

Falling Slowly:  Glen Hansard and Merketa Irglova

Married to You: Mo Leverett  (I could not find my favorite Mo Leverett Love song, but this runs close second.

Song of Songs: Pierce Pettis (See if this song doesn't make you seep into the Earth like a puddle.)

Mercy of the Flame:  Pat Terry (Mark Heard)  Orphans of God.    And what a mercy it is.

Oh, and this.

Thigpen's Wedding.  Kemper Crabb.   Used without permission (cause I didn't know how to get it.) at the greatest wedding of the last century.  Thanks Kemper, we made this song our own.

Songs, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

Lord of the Starfields: Bruce Cockburn

Spend my Life with You:  Phil Keaggy; Philip Side.

Comfortable with You: Kelly Willard: Willing Heart (production is a little dated, but the heart...)

the Advent Suite:  John Michael and Terry Talbot; The Painter

the Wexford Carol, performed by and Alison Krauss and Yo Yo Ma.

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree.  (Boy's Choir of King's College) Less about who sings it than the song itself.

Immortal Invisible: Cynthia Clawson  (This is one of my favorite hymns.)  As is, this rendition sounded better in the 80s  make that 1880s.  (My mom, with an ear for Southern Gospel, loved the music of Cynthia Clawson.  At the time, Cynthia was like Baptist High-Church.  I really love Cynthia's most recent music, her voice has aged, her whole presentation is more even rootsy.  But I couldn't find any of it for sharing.

All Flesh is like the Grass:  Fernando Ortega  (ideally I should have included dozens of songs by Fernando, who has become for many, our link to our deep hymn heritage.

Jesus, Lover of My Soul (As Sung by) Michael Card.

The Anchor Holds: Treva Blomquist This is old hymn is made all the more special by the fact that Treva lives somewhere down the street.  (we are both Conwinians!)

Wayfaring Stranger: David Eugene Edwards.  Found oddly enough, because I was looking for the music of another David Edwards, who would be on this list if his music was find-able.

Spirit of the Living God:  Audrey Assad  

They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships : Kemper Crabb

He Does All Things Well: Andre Crouch

The Mover: Christine Dente/Out of the Grey (So what do you get when you mix the voice of "Karen Carpenter" with words for a Puritan prayer book.)

Stomp: Kirk Franklin.  (Because I am a physical being, and sometimes gotta shake my haunches.)

Dance Like No One's Watching: Carolyn Arends. (Cause there is more than one way to dance.)

We are confident:  Pat Nobody:  Proof that even punk music can be spiritual food.

Stray Socks:

Rachel Delevoryas:  Randy Stonehill; Welcome to the Wonderama

Sea King: Eisley

Coins and Promises: Margaret Becker; Falling Forward

Everything is Everything: Lauren Hill: The Mis-education of Lauren Hill

Faust, Midas, and Myself: Switchfoot; Gravity

Ichtheology: Crashdog

Big Enough: Chris Rice

Riu Riu Riu: Bruce Cockburn.  The Greatest Christmas Song of All Time (I just wish I could understand the words;)   Funny Story, I was listening to this music while parked in my car, waiting to go into a basketball game - a photographic assignment while with the Southwest Times of Fort Smith.   I was really into the music, eyes closed, fiddling or pounding on my steering wheel.  When the song ended, there was a coworker, writer David Hamby, waiting outside the car...with a bemused grin.

Raggedy Ann: Mindy Smith - Could this be one of the purist voices on the planet.

Neverending: David Crowder Band

I'm Taking the Universe In - the Choir

An Old Dog Can learn new tricks.   (Just shows you that I haven't stopped listening)

Another New World: Punch Brothers; Ahoy
Birds on a Wire:  Hawk In Paris
Dust to Dust: The Civil Wars
Dig Here Said the Angel:  Daniel Amos (From the Band that Just won't go way)
You Were a House on Fire: Listener  (Bucket list... to perform with Listener.)
EXCELLENT: Propaganda

The End of Days:

The Pride of Man: Buddy Greene

Worlds Apart: Margaret Becker

Everybody's Brother: Billy Joe Shaver.  ( I have only recently discovered Gospel themed PowWow music, and this with a hint of the same.)

Here He Comes: Second Time:  Terry Scott Taylor: Knowledge and Innocence

Saving the Best for Last: Marc Cohn:

Over the River: Jon Foreman (Seasons)

Beautiful One (Randy Stonehill/Terry Taylor)


  1. testing. testing, where did all the earlier comments go.

    1. test 2 Hmmm. I guess they just disappeared? See, I was on Google enabled, till I learned only folks with Google accounts could comment... and thats no good, so I switched it off, and now it looks like I lost those comments as a result. Hmmm..