Wednesday, May 25, 2016

#49 CHUCK GIRARD by Chuck Girard (1975)

CHUCK GIRARD by Chuck Girard (1975)
Good News • MYR-1025
In the early 90s my Dad was pastoring a church in Taylors, South Carolina. I don't remember the details as to how it came about...but at some point I learned that Chuck Girard was coming to our church for two services - a Sunday morning and Sunday night. Now, I gotta tell ya…I was just a little star-struck at the thought of meeting Chuck. Yeah, my brothers and I grew up in south Alabama, but we knew full well who Chuck Girard was and the role that he played in Love Song and the Jesus Movement. We had even recorded one of his songs – You Ask Me Why – on our very first custom LP when we were still kids. A friend of ours (who also happened to be the worship leader at our church) was just as smitten as we were. Chuck Girard was larger than life to all of us.

Chuck arrived on schedule and he not only ministered to our church in a very meaningful and anointed way, he also took time to talk and visit and fellowship with some guys who had been somewhat in awe of him during their formative years (that would be us). We were able to share a meal with him and also spent some time around the piano, just talking, laughing, playing snippets of songs, telling stories, and listening. It was one of the perks of being a PK, I suppose. (Um…PK means preacher’s kid, by the way.)

That's me with Chuck Girard sometime in the early 90s.
I'm the one with the unfortunate haircut.
Standing, L-R: Dohn Bower, Tim Bachmann, Chuck Girard.
I'm seated at the piano.
Living Praise Worship Center, Taylors, SC

Author and historian Mark Allen Powell has written that “Chuck Girard is without question one of the most important people in the history of Contemporary Christian Music.” He says that while Larry Norman introduced Christian rock to the world, Chuck Girard introduced it to the Church. He did that as front man for the band Love Song before embarking on a promising career as a solo artist. But Girard’s musical journey began much earlier than his spiritual one.

A lot of Jesus Music fans seem to think that Chuck Girard’s musical output began at that ‘little country church’ in Costa Mesa. Nope. After growing up in Santa Rosa, California, Chuck formed a band called The Castells while still in high school. The Castells, with their early 60s California sound, had 4 songs that charted nationally, allowing a young Chuck Girard to share the stage with artists like Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Brenda Lee, and others. This was about 2 years before The Beatles arrived in the USA.

After three years with The Castells, Chuck and Joe Kelley left the group to form The Hondells with Gary Usher, Brian Wilson and Glen Campbell. This group had three national hits, including Little Honda, a song about a motorcycle that went to #9 in the country and is still played on oldies rock stations today. Little Honda was written by Brian Wilson (later of Beach Boys fame) but Chuck Girard sang the lead vocal.

In the late 60s Girard grew his hair long, became a vegetarian, grew a beard, began searching for ‘enlightenment,’ and started experimenting with eastern religions and hallucinogenic drugs. In other words, he became a full-fledged California hippie. He embarked on a 5-year journey to find God through music, philosophy and LSD. The only thing he found was a little jail time (he was arrested twice for possession).

"I got more and more into alcohol during this period, and slowly but steadily my life went out of control," Chuck recalls. "I needed booze on sessions, I thought, and often got so drunk I couldn't sing. Later I discovered marijuana, and wondered where that had been all of my life! About a year into marijuana, the publicity began to hit on the hippie scene, and I got into LSD."

At this point Chuck was in a group called Six The Hardway. They wound up playing at the Pussycat A Go Go on the Vegas strip with another band that featured a young man by the name of Denny Correll. "One night on a break, Denny got us all in the back room," Chuck remembers. "'You have to accept Jesus, man, you have to repent and get your life right,' he preached. The force of his conviction, his boldness and his personality deeply affected me, and I knew I had to look into this."

Girard relocated to Hawaii for a while and basically dropped out of society. When he arrived back in the mainland, the Holy Spirit drew him through a series of events to a place called Calvary Chapel where he met Pastor Chuck Smith. He also met Jesus. And he finally found the peace and joy he’d been searching for. He received the Holy Spirit baptism about a week later.

Early Love Song promotional photo
L-R: Fred Field, Chuck Girard, Tommy Coomes, John Mehler, Jay Truax
Now, Girard was already in a band called Love Song, writing and performing songs about a generic
spiritual quest that none of the members really knew much of anything about. It was truly the blind leading the blind. But once Jesus got a hold of their lives, the band’s songwriting took a radical turn and their performances were truly anointed. Their debut album caused quite a stir within Christendom and is dearly loved to this day. Something tells me we’ll be taking a close look at that record much later in our countdown.

But after three whirlwind years with Love Song, the members went in different directions (although they would often reunite through the years for sporadic live performances and reunion projects). Love Song members Tommy Coomes, Jay Truax and John Mehler formed Wing and a Prayer with Al Perkins and Tom Stipe. Truax and Mehler later became part of the Richie Furay Band, while Coomes became an executive with Maranatha! Music. Coomes and Mehler also released solo recordings along the way. But it was Chuck Girard who had been most responsible for giving Love Song its signature sound. A solo career for Girard just made sense.

Which brings us to our featured recording. In his Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, author Mark Allen Powell calls this record a “masterpiece” and “a flawless collection of pop songs with powerful evangelical themes.” Blogger David Lowman says it’s “an essential Jesus Music album that belongs in everyone’s collection.” The so-called California sound dominates much of the album, recalling Girard’s early association with Brian Wilson and company. But 70s-era rock and roll also makes an appearance, as well as what would now be considered intimate worship (ahead of its time in 1975). The album is marked by excellent musicianship, with several members of the band Ambrosia lending a hand in the studio.

It’s a self-titled album…but it wasn’t intended to be. Girard originally wanted to name the album ‘Rock and Roll Preacher’ after the record’s first track. But the suits and ties at Word Records nixed that idea. “They told me that if the album appeared with the words ‘rock and roll’ in the title, none of the Christian bookstores would carry it, and if they did, no one would buy it, therefore the album would be a flop,” Girard remembers. After all, this was 1975. So it was decided that the album would be eponymous. Chuck has said it was not his usual style to bow to conventional wisdom or industry advice, but he saw the wisdom in this counsel. He said that since this was his first solo album, he wanted to make a record that would ruffle as few feathers as possible.

Side One opens with the aforementioned autobiographical rocker Rock ‘N Roll Preacher. No mystery here: the teenaged Girard literally spent all of his spare time listening to music and, like the song said, picking out the chords and melodies to popular songs by ear on his family’s piano. Back in the era of the Big Three major television networks, American Bandstand was a hugely influential vehicle for exposing audiences to new music, so Chuck has said he wanted to mention the show in the song, and he did. Christopher North of Ambrosia actually played piano on this track, not Chuck. The track relies heavily on the bravado and swagger of David Pack's electric guitar (also of Ambrosia) and a crisp horn section (Chuck Findley, Jackie Kelso and the aptly named Jim Horn). The piano and brass give the song a retro feel that fits nicely with the lyric content.

I want you to know I still love rock 'n' roll music
But now I have something to say
I'll sing you my song and maybe you'll sing along
And we'll make us a noise they'll hear in Heavenly places

Who'd ever thought I'd be a rock 'n' roll preacher
'Stead of just singin' the blues
Who'd ever thought I'd be a rock 'n' roll preacher
Singing my song so you can hear the Good News

"It was my simple, obvious idea in this song to communicate two ideas," said Chuck. "One, that we never know where we will end up in life for sure - I never dreamed there would ever be a time when I would be singing 'Jesus Music.' The other idea was to communicate the joy of discovering the real reason anyone is given a gift or talent - to serve God."

You Ask Me Why first came to my attention on the Jubilation, Too double LP sampler set. I later played it many times as my brothers and I performed it and even recorded it. Girard admits that this upbeat, pop song was based on a variation of a Carol King riff. Chuck says, "It speaks of the joy and optimism that can be a part of the Christian mindset if we choose it. In a world which is coming unglued at the seams, the Christian has perspective that God is in control, and no matter how bad it may seem in the natural, Jesus is Lord. I wanted to include the idea that while people are screaming for answers, the answer is right there if they are open to receive it." Interestingly, background vocals on this song were supplied by two of Andrae Crouch's Disciples: Bili Thedford and Perry Morgan.

The next song, Evermore, was written earlier during the Love Song years and lyrically, it shows (not that that's a bad thing!). It's typical of the "I'm just so glad I'm saved!" mindset of early Jesus people:

I love the feelin' when I get up in the morning
And my heart is beating fast with gladness
Oh what a feeling when I rise and think about you
You wash away all morning sadness

I know that I am walking
In the lighted path and you are watching over me
I know that I was blinded
But you came into my life and touched me and now I see

I know that you are faithful
And you love me even if I grieve you for awhile
And even though I make you sad
You look upon me and forgive me with a smile

According to Chuck, Evermore had a most unusual genesis: "Evermore was one of two or three songs that I received in dreams," Chuck revealed. "The song is completely written in the dream, and when I wake up, it lingers. If I go right to the piano, I can capture most of the basic idea." Love Song were living rent-free with some members of Calvary Chapel during their first year as Christians (to help them get on their feet). Maybe that's one reason Chuck was loving the feelin' he had when he woke up in the morning! No, seriously...they were literally benefiting from the generosity of God's people, enjoying close fellowship with brothers and sisters, and having their needs met like the early believers in the book of Acts. No wonder Chuck was inspired to write about the joys of this new life with Christ!

Chuck worked overtime on the ending to Evermore, supplying stacked background vocals that sounded like a small army!

Quiet Hour was a melodic ballad that Chuck said was "a love song to God." It talks about what a lot of us today would call 'devotional time' or 'quiet time':

When the day is done and gone, and shades of evening come along
I sit alone and think of you,and thank you that I have this quiet hour
Alone with you
My quiet hour, to be with you

I don't have to say a word, and yet I know each word is heard
Makes no difference where I am, you're there to join me in my quiet hour
Alone with you

And my desire, my desire is to be with you

Once again, the stacked vocal harmonies are worth the price of admission (did anybody do that better than this guy?). Acoustic guitars figure heavily into this one, played by Ambrosia bandmates David Pack and Joe Puerta. "The high, tinkley sound throughout the song was achieved by tapping a pencil on the side of a glass ash tray that was in the studio," Chuck reveals. "I was just playing with it and liked the sound, so I recorded it. In the 'hoo-la-la-la-la' part, I used an actual conch shell which I purchased and actually learned to blow myself. It gave it that 'Hawaii' sound."

Pre-Christian Love Song. Clockwise from top left:
Denny Correll, John Mehler, Chuck, Jessie Johnston,
Jay Truax, Bobby Guidotti. Center: Larry Brittain.
Speaking of Hawaii, Side One closes with a song that Chuck wrote with the late Denny Correll while they were living there, before they even became Christians. "I love Everybody Knows For Sure," says Chuck. "I had just learned a few chords on the guitar, and I wrote this in a whisper voice which actually kind of united with the sound of the wind outside. The vocal arrangement was intended to be kind of a vocal orchestra. The instrumentation is just guitar, organ and organ bass pedal with the voices being featured. The lyric is just a device to give the song a little something to say, intended to be a plaintive beckoning invitation to know God."

This moody, ethereal gem features Christopher North on organ, Tommy Morgan on harmonica, and Chuck himself on the organ bass pedals.

Chuck Girard boasted some stellar studio musicians including guitarist Dean Parks and drummers Jim Keltner and Ambrosia member Burleigh Drummond (who went on much later to play drums for the Lost Dogs). Produced by Chuck, the album was engineered by Billy Taylor and Chuck Johnson and recorded at Mama Jo's in North Hollywood. Tom Trefethen mixed most of the album and is credited with "additional recording." The song Lay Your Burden Down was mixed by Billy Taylor. 

The front cover photo, taken by Joel Nussbaum, is a dramatic close-up portrait of Chuck. It's as if he's saying, "Yeah, I was in a band. But it's just me now." [You may remember that neither of the two early Love Song albums featured the band members on the front cover.] Dean Torrence provided the art design & layout for the cover.

In the album's credits, Chuck sends special thanks to his wife Karen, Pastor Chuck Smith, Freddie Piro, and the group Ambrosia.

Every decent mid-70s Jesus Music album had to have a Bible story set to music...and Galilee did the trick on this record, leading off Side Two. Girard relates a funny story that goes with the song: "There was a gospel group I enjoyed even before I was a Christian. They were called the Jubilee Four and were on the same label I was with the Castells. I actually got them into the studio to do the background vocals. They were in the studio, but had some kind of falling out regarding the money for the session, and actually did not sing on the record....walked right out of the studio! So we hired the women singers, who just burned up the track. Ironically, this was an all-white singing group who really did a great job." Their names were Kathi McDonald and Lea Santos-Roberti. Galilee also features a great sax solo by Jackie Kelso.

Chuck Girard says he's received more questions about the next song than any other throughout his long and storied career. "Who was Tinagera?"

Here's the scoop, from Chuck himself: "The opening line of this song was 'She was young, she was born in the teenage era.' To me, the teenage era was when I became a teenager, the 50's, when in my opinion, teenagers came into their own as a social group in a way unique in history. I believe this is true because of the ability of 20th century media to shape our perceptions of culture. Elvis and rock 'n' roll provided a music that was just for teenagers, birthed out of a kind of rebellion indigenous to the teenagers of the time. Movies like Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden, and the persona in particular of James Dean epitomized the teenage image and the kind of 'cool' that teenagers wanted to be like no other time in history. So this song was intended to reflect the fairly recent phenomena of teenagers who are forced to confront grownup problems before they are adults, and are effectively robbed of their youth. As I worked with the first line, which I always intended to change later, the words 'teenage era' sort of slurred into 'Tinagera,' which sounded to me like a girl's name. I thought it would be artsy to use it as a symbolic name representing every youth who fits the description of the girl in the song. I don't know why I specifically chose a female image, perhaps it seemed more sympathetic to me. As I crossed that first bridge, I decided to also call the place she came from 'Tinagera.' Musically, I wanted to use the format of a 'doo-wop' song, but did not want to create a parody. I wanted to use the genre in a serious way to underscore the teenage aspect of the theme, as that was the music of my teenage years and many who would be listening to the song. I put all the '50s influences I could into the song, from the chords to the Phil Spectorish castanets at the end. The original background vocals were sung by The Innocents, who had several hits in the '60s. When we got the vocals on the song, they seemed too low and a bit dated for the track, and I blew them off, a decision I regret today. David Pack and I re-arranged a more contemporary but very busy background vocal arrangement which took days to record. Many of the subtleties were lost in the mix, and though the vocals served the track, I really would like to have heard The Innocents' vocals which would have been more fitting as I look back on it. This song touched a chord with many people, and even today I hear testimonies of how God had used this song.

For me, the highlight of this album is the 3-song suite that closes the record. While they do not cross-fade into each other, the songs Lay Your Burden Down, Slow Down and Sometimes Alleluia combine to create a mini-trilogy of tunes that minister in a very effective way to this day.

"When I sequenced this album with those three songs in succession, I caught some resistance from some record company execs that putting three such ballads in a row would create a 'boring' segment and may hurt the sales of the album," Chuck recalls. "To their credit, I was never dictated to in those days, and my decision stood, as I felt that this would not be a boring segment, but would really minister to many people. I believe my decision was the right one, as no other segment of my work has ever garnered more favorable response."

Chuck has said that he wasn't exposed to a lot of Gospel or spiritual music growing up, but after becoming a Christian he noticed the phrase "lay your burden down at the cross" in several gospel songs and hymns and wanted to pen an update on this concept. "I thought this was an idea that needed to be contemporized, and I set about to write a song that would communicate this idea to my audience," Girard explains. It's a timeless message...

Lay your burden down, lay your burden down
Take your troubled soul, your tired mind
And lay your burden down

Lay your burden down, get your feet on solid ground
Take your worries to the foot of the cross, and lay your burden down

You've been tryin' hard to make it all alone
Tryin' hard to make it on your own
And the strength you once were feelin', isn't there no more
And you think the wrong you've done, is just too much to be forgiven
But you know that isn't true
Just lay your burden down,....He has Forgiven you

Lay your burden down, lay your burden down
Take your burden to the cross, and lay it down
Lay your burden down, lay your burden down
Take your worries to the cross and lay them down

In the song's fadeout, Chuck said he was trying to simulate the sound of a hammer on wood, as if it were nailing the hands of Jesus to the cross.

Song #2 in this set is based on the Scriptural directive to "Be still and know that I am God." Slow Down contains a clear and simple message, one that is even more important today than when it was first written and recorded.

In the midst of my confusion

In the time of desperate need
When I am thinking not too clearly
A gentle voice does intercede

Slow down, slow down, be still
Be still and wait, on the Spirit of the Lord
Slow down and hear His voice
And know that He is God

In the time of tribulation
When I'm feeling so unsure
When things are pressing in about me
Comes a gentle voice so still, so pure

At this point, there's an exaggerated pause or hold, as Chuck lingers on the word slow...which serves and illustrates the meaning of the song perfectly...

Slow down, slow down, be still
Be still and wait, on the Spirit of the Lord
Slow down and hear His voice
And know that He is God

Interestingly, Chuck recalls that the session players were having a difficult time on this one, so he brought in his sister-in-law, Gina Price, to play piano on the track. She had never played in a studio setting before, but did a great job on this now-classic song. Girard has said that Slow Down generates more mail and comment than any other song he's ever written.

Chuck Girard wraps with Chuck Girard's most well-known song and the first worship song he ever wrote: Sometimes Alleluia.

Girard tells the story of how this anointed song came to be: "One weekend someone gave us the use of a cabin in a Southern California resort area, and a bunch of us went up for a weekend of R&R. I'm not sure who all went, but it was wintertime, and we sat around the fireplace the first night to just worship. I had a guitar and I began to think about the different ways in which we express our heart to God. 'Sometimes alleluia...sometimes praise the Lord,' etc., and the chorus was born. I didn't think much about it then, and basically just forgot about it. A few years later when I was preparing to record the Chuck Girard album, I told my wife Karen that I wanted to put a worship song on the album. She reminded me about the little chorus we sang up at the cabin. I said 'Nah...that's too simple, I need a real song.' Karen said, 'No, I have a feeling about that song. You need to finish it.' I went to the piano and the verses were written in about 20 minutes."

Little did he know he had just written the signature song of his career.

The song was a preview of the direction Chuck's ministry would take in the future, as he became a true worship leader, inspiring and teaching others to follow his lead.

Sometimes alleluia
Sometimes praise the Lord
Sometimes gently singing
Our hearts in one accord

Oh let us lift our voices
Look toward the sky and start to sing
Oh let us now return His love
Just let our voices ring

Oh let us feel His presence
Let the sound of praises fill the air
Oh let us sing the song of Jesus' love
To people everywhere

Oh let our joy be unconfined
Let us sing with freedom unrestrained
Let's take this feeling that we're feeling now
Outside these walls and let it rain

Oh let the Spirit overflow
As we are filled from head to toe
We love you Father, Son and Holy Ghost
And we want this world to know

"An interesting side note is that a few years later I was introduced to the sermons of Charles Spurgeon for the first time," says Girard. "I was reading through a sermon, and read the line 'Oh let our joy be unconfined, let us sing with freedom unrestrained.' This was a verbatim line that I had received from the Spirit when I wrote the verses of this song. You can imagine, it fairly blew me away."

Some Jesus Rock heavyweights participated on this song; Andrae Crouch's drummer Bill Maxwell played on it, and the 2nd Chapter of Acts sang on it. Another interesting note: Sometimes Alleluia was one of the few Jesus Music songs that mentioned the Holy Spirit baptism. It was covered by many other artists, as disparate as The Imperials, Danny Gaither, Dino, Sonlight Orchestra, Dave Boyer, and even Jimmy Swaggart. It's somewhat unusual for the last song on an LP to become the highlight of the album...but that's exactly what happened here. It seemed like the perfect place in the song order...Sometimes Alleluia just seemed to tie up the loose ends and put a fitting cap on what was a very impressive, memorable and anointed debut album. [When The Imperials recorded it a year later, they also put it at the end of their album.]

Reviewer and blogger David Lowman calls this record "legitimate, authentic pop music with a distinctly eternal message." Chuck Girard sold very well (by Jesus Music standards) and really gave Girard the identity he needed as a solo artist. He was no longer just "that guy from Love Song."

Chuck Girard released a handful of other albums throughout the remainder of the 1970s, none of them having the impact of his debut. At the end of the decade, things began to change for Girard and for the CCM "industry" as a whole. "My relationship with my label was a little bit rocky through the whole 10-year period," Chuck revealed in a 2006 interview with CrossRhythms. "At the end of the '70s/early '80s I was looking for another situation. It was a mutual thing. We mutually agreed to go our separate ways. I had another contract pending with Light Records. I went through this time of tremendous spiritual renewal and upheaval in my life in 1980. God dealt with some things that needed to be taken care of in my life. And as a result of that I began to examine a lot of my decisions, my direction in life."

In the end, Chuck asked to be let out of the deal with Light. "By my own decision I got out of the
industry," Chuck said. "I never really regretted it. I never really looked back. There were times where it's been very difficult because when you get out of the industry, first thing that happens is you have no visibility anymore. You don't have the money to take out ads and magazine covers and all that. So people think that you've dropped out of the scene. Well, that wasn't true but that's how people perceived it. Then you're making your own albums with your own money, which is extremely stressful. I just took all that on. It was very difficult to put your own albums especially in the day when I started because we didn't have the $10,000 home studios in those days. It was a huge financial burden and there was no real promotion, no ability to promote. No way to get it on the radio. So you shift a lot of things to do that. But again, I don't regret it. I'm happy that I made the decision that I did."

Many years later, Chuck publicly disclosed that he had actually lapsed back into alcoholism toward the end of the 1970s. He would sing his songs in churches and concert halls, then retire to drink alone in his hotel room. He eventually overcame that struggle in 1980.

Chuck told Crossrhythms, "After I became a Christian I was delivered from drugs. But I could justify alcohol with what I called the 'loophole Scriptures'. 'Take a little wine for your stomach' and all of that...Jesus drank wine, blah, blah, blah. You know? Some people can handle it. Well, I couldn't. So as much as I tried to rationalize it and justify it, I got back into addiction with alcohol. That continued to spiral through the '70s and by the end of the '70s I was in a really bad place. I really needed to be delivered again and the Lord did that in 1980. There was a time when the circumstances of my life came together in a crossroads. Marriage difficulties and a lot of other things that stressed out my life just came crashing down on me. It broke me. It was exactly what I needed and the Lord started to pick up the pieces from that day. It was just a time of new beginnings and tremendous trauma in my life but sometimes you have to go through those things to be restored and to be repaired. It literally was the beginning of the second phase of my life. A whole new way that I looked at my ministry and the future of my music and the whole thing. So it was almost, in some ways, as life-changing as my born again experience."

That personal revival that Chuck experienced greatly affected his music. "A couple of things happened that really turned the tide of my thinking and the whole way I viewed my ministry," Chuck shared. "I felt from the Lord, He said, 'If you're going to call yourself a Christian musician, why don't you see what I have to say about music?' So I did my first Bible study where I really concentrated and focused on music. Through that, I discovered that music was always about worship in the Bible. So that was the first thing. This kind of new awakening into, 'Whoa! Maybe this is the real reason we have music in general! It's about worship! And maybe one day that's all music will be about?' I started to put all this stuff together."

He continues: "Then the second thing was, it was the first time in my whole Christian experience that
I began to worship God in my private times. Well, in the process I discovered this whole area of spontaneous singing. Pretty soon I just started to express my heart in a very free way that kind of broke a barrier that I'd never experienced before. So I began to go deeper into the whole area of spontaneity."

Chuck began to write and record music with a bent toward the prophetic, as well as songs that took the listener before the throne of God in intimate worship. Chuck and especially his friend Terry Clark--who had both asked to be released from their contracts at the close of the 1970s--have spent the rest of their careers (for lack of a better term) pioneering deeper, authentic, intimate worship. For Terry Clark, who had been a member of the Chuck Girard Band as well as a label mate of Chuck's at Good News Records, this change in direction began with two powerfully anointed albums, Living Worship and Let's Worship, and continued on from there. For Chuck, this new paradigm was expressed through albums like The Name Above All Names and Fire And Light. Chuck later released two projects of free-flow, spontaneous worship (Voice of the Wind and Evening Shadows). Chuck broke new ground on these CDs, as they contain prophetic utterances and what Charismatic believers call The Song of the Lord (or "spiritual songs" as the Bible says). I firmly believe that there are no two men more gifted and anointed by God to speak and teach on the subject of intimate worship than Terry Clark and Chuck Girard. At one point, Chuck had a 4-CD Worship Seminar available for purchase, and I purchased the set when my brother brought Chuck back to our town for a concert in the early 2000s. I don't know if it's out of print...but that set of CDs should be required listening for every worship leader in America, and around the world.

My brother Tim (L), me (with back to camera, Dohn Bower (obscured).
Chuck Girard is sitting at the piano.
Living Praise Worship Center, Taylors, SC. Early 90s.

My mind goes back to the time in the 1990s when we were privileged to host Chuck Girard at my father's church. I remember like it was yesterday...we were sitting about halfway back in the sanctuary, discussing the state of Christian music at that time...Chuck, my brothers, our church's worship leader and me. Somehow the ol' tried and true "plumber analogy" came up in the conversation. You know what that is, right? Well, Chuck Girard had an answer for it - one that I agree with wholeheartedly. The 'plumber thing' must've been a sore spot with Chuck (as it has been with me) because I discovered an interview online during which he shared the exact same thing with journalist Bob Gerszten that he had shared with us some twenty years ago.

The Chuck Girard Band:
TopLR: Virgil Beckham, Chuck, Jay Truax
Bottom: Larry Myers, Terry Clark, Mark Walker
"Remember the old comparison about a Christian plumber?" Chuck asked. "'Does he have to go in and talk about Christ as he fixes your toilet?' Well, plumbing is not an occupation that expresses ideas and thoughts. Music is. And so I never bought that excuse where people would say 'I’m a Christian musician but I don’t have to talk about God in my lyrics anymore than a Christian plumber has to talk about God while he fixes your toilet.' The big difference is that all music espouses some sort of idea about a lifestyle. In general, art is a means by which we convey philosophy, and we convey thoughts, and we reflect life. So you can’t just compare a Christian musician to a Christian plumber in my opinion. The fact that you have this platform to express a philosophy or a thought about life, if you are a Christian, then I think there is a responsibility that goes along with that. Whether you wear the hat and say you're a minister or not, may not be that serious, but at least you have the responsibility to communicate something about your positive experience with Christ though your music, and through your art, and I think God will call you to account if you have that platform."

Over the years, in addition to his involvement with Love Song, Chuck has released ten solo albums, and has toured the US, Europe, and Australia several times. He has ministered in Indonesia, Africa, Mexico, Canada, and the Middle East.

Chuck Girard

Chuck Girard has been a pioneer twice in his career -- first as part of the ground floor of the Jesus Movement with his band mates in Love Song, and then in a new capacity...teaching the Body of Christ about the simplicity of genuine, authentic worship. Sometimes 'alleluia'...sometimes 'praise the Lord'...sometimes gently singing...our hearts in one accord.


  1. Great album! This was the album that introduced my mother, the church musician to CCM - she just loved "Sometimes Alleluia." For me, I still sing "Lay your burden down" to myself when the weight of ministry gets too heavy. It was about 4 years ago I was with Bill Hybels of Willow Creek and he went on and on about the influence of Chuck Girard on his life and ministry. After hearing this I actually wrote to Chuck to tell him and Chuck wrote back very grateful. Not too long after that Hebel's invited Chuck to Willow's big anniversary celebration. There are some artist's that write great songs and there are artist's that influence a generation. Chuck is one of those.

    1. That's a cool story, Steven. And that's neat about your Mom liking "Sometimes Alleluia." It's almost like God inspired some of these guys to include special songs here and there that had the power to reach out beyond just their audience...songs that would have a multi-generational appeal and would make it easier for the older generation to be accepting of "those long-haired hippies"... !

  2. As a senior in high school, I sometimes substituted as a DJ at a small, almost-rural radio station in northeast Indiana. All the music was on these HUGE reel-to-reel tapes, and it was my job to play commercials and station IDs. Late at night, there was a syndicated kinda-Christian program called, I think, "NightSounds" that featured a mellow-voiced trombonist who would slowly intone spiritual thoughts between mostly instrumental hymn renditions.

    One night, full of teenage bravery (stupidity) and a desire for somebody besides me to know about Jesus Music, I announced that, due to technical difficulties, "NightSounds" would not be heard that evening, but that a similar program would take its place. I then started a half-hour of Randy Stonehill, Phil Keaggy, and others by playing "Rock and Roll Preacher".

    Good thing the station owner wasn't listening!

    1. That's awesome! I can totally relate. I used to work overnights at a Christian station and I would play all kinds of stuff that was not on the approved playlist...usually in the middle of the night when the Station Manager and Program Director were fast asleep. :)

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