Wednesday, February 5, 2020

#30 WELCOME by Terry Clark (1978)

WELCOME by Terry Clark (1978)
Good News Records GNR-8107

"Ugadano Thawanu Maija.

"What?! What is that, some sort of foreign language?

No, just a catchy title of an equally catchy song. 

Ugadano Thawanu Maija was the first song that many people heard from Terry Clark's Welcome album; after all, it occupied a top ten position on radio airplay charts for months, and it inspired t-shirts and bumper stickers. Clark's recording of the song instantly stuck in your head, with the memorable percussion and keyboard work. The main thought communicated by this track is that we need to know God. "You gotta know the One who made you." Which is entirely appropriate since knowing God - and encouraging others to know Him - has remained the central thrust of Terry Clark's ministry over the past 40+ years. As we think about songs like I Am Yours, You're All My Life, Knowing You, and so many others, how fitting that the most popular song on this, his debut album, would focus on knowing God. 

Take His love down in your heart
Let Him fill your life with purpose
'Cause if you really want to make a new start
Ugadano thawanu maija

He's the One that we all wanna know

He's the love that we all wanna show

L-R: Nancy Clark, Terry Clark, Jon Linn

The song had sort of an 'island' feel to it and a hook that got stuck in your head for days on end. It also gave percussionist Burleigh Drummond (Ambrosia) a chance to shine.

In the summer of 2019, I had a chance to talk to Terry Clark and do a sort of deep dive into this album. One of the first things I wanted to know was how the funky spelling came about for Ugadano Thawanu Maija. As you might imagine, there's a story that goes with that.

 "Well, we thought the title was too long," Terry explained. "So in the stew of that quandary, I remembered seeing signs written on slices of tree trunks for sale in truck stops, out on the road, that would say sentences too long for the space by mashing up the syllables. Like Kwicherbelyakin! Stuff like that. So, a little experimenting produced the final title, and it became a hit because of the effect that it had on people."

As I mentioned, the phonetically-spelled phrase ended up on bumper stickers, which would sometimes cause a mild case of road rage (before we even used that term). "Yeah, cars would come up close to the back of my car on the highway, trying to figure out what language was on the sticker and what it meant," Clark remembered. "And whether on a bumper sticker or on a T-shirt, all it takes is to hear yourself read the syllables out loud. You could tell when the people in the car figured it out, because they would burn rubber and speed around us! In line at a pizza place, we could tell people were trying to figure it out by the mumbling. They would eventually ask what language it was. I would just get them to read it out loud a couple of times." Terry smiled and said, "I wish we had video of the facial expressions from the people in line behind us when they figured it out, and the hand signals from the cars as they stood on the horn and sped around us! But I'm pretty sure that it had to be written that way because Jesus wanted to expose how ugly people are who reject Him, even in a moment of being confronted by Truth, live and in their face."

Terry Clark grew up knowing and living that Truth, having been raised in a God-fearing home in Texas. Somehow, just a few years later he would end up in what amounted to an insane asylum in Munich, Germany with a prognosis of "no hope." But God had other plans.

Terry Clark grew up in an environment of intense prayer and devotion to the Word of God. "I was born into a wonderful early childhood - about as good as you could get," Clark revealed. "My parents were active, very committed Christians. Everybody on my mother's side of the family were either pastors or evangelists or some other kind of Jesus freaks whose lives were centered around the supernatural involvement of a loving God." Terry says his grandmother was a fire-breathing preacher, and he recalls an uncle who actually had one of those old-school revival tents, complete with sawdust on the ground and an upright piano on a platform constructed of wooden planks. He has vivid memories of standing on that piano bench as a child. He also speaks of very real memories of responding to altar calls as a child, no older than 4 or 5, crying out to Jesus and surrendering his life to the Lord.

Looking back on those years, Clark is thankful for the godly heritage but also mindful that he grew up in a bubble of sorts. "Unfortunately, a bubble is just that," he acknowledges, "and at some point we begin to break out of those bubbles. There weren't any Christian schools there at the time, so I attended regular public schools that introduced me to life outside the bubble. Pretty abruptly. Every day."

Clark says he began to adapt to his surroundings and basically became a chameleon. Small in stature and lacking (or so he thought) a distinct personality to call his own, he decided to hang with the tough guys. He felt compelled to join up to a group that would give him identity. 

"I would be God's little gift to the planet at church and at home," Clark recalls. "But when I got to school, I was among the best at saying the things that they said and doing the things that they did. Or at least looking like I was very comfortable doing those things." He's an author these days, but Terry Clark says he graduated high school without ever reading a book. By the way, guitarist Dean Parks attended high school with Terry in Fort Worth. "Not only was I envious of his musicianship in the school's stage band," admits Terry, "I was also really jealous of his baby blue 1958 Chevy." Parks would go on to become a world-renowned musician (Koinonia, Sonny & Cher, Rod Stewart, Bob Segar, B.B. King and others) and would end up playing guitar for his old school mate on Welcome.

Dean Parks

Next, Terry attended Bible college, immersing himself in music and gaining experience as a touring musician; he was part of a trio and a choir that traveled to promote the school. Looking back on that time, he said, "I didn't have time to get in trouble, I guess."

But money got tight, and Terry needed to go to work. Here was a new and different environment to which he would adapt. And adapt he did. "I met a whole other circle of people," Terry remembers. "Gamblers, drunkards, and drag racers. I became addicted to the adrenaline of all that. Slowly, the bubble that I had always kind of gone back to had dissipated. I wound up in desperate straights." 

Terry's family thought that a change of scenery would do him good so they sent him to live with one of his pastor uncles to attend another Bible college in Costa Mesa, California. But Terry only went to part of one class, got a job at Times Mirror Press and moved to Newport Beach, just steps from the Pacific Ocean, where the push-and-pull began all over again with what seemed like an endless sea of young adults who drank and partied all night. The chameleon was doing his thing. But life as Terry Clark knew it was about to change in a more drastic fashion than he could've ever imagined.

People on their merry-go-round
Their complicated lives go round and round
They don't know 
They don't know what true life is

People on their merry-go-round

Screwing themselves right into the ground
They don't know 
They don't know who my Lord is
They don't know
They don't really know who Jesus is

People on their merry-go-round

They don't have the time to hear the sound of Jesus calling
Oh, Jesus is calling to them

For many years Terry Clark was on just such a merry-go-round, so he was probably drawing on personal experience when he wrote this song, the fourth track on side one of Welcome. Originally recorded by Children of Faith, an early Jesus Music group that featured Terry and his (future) wife Nancy, Merry-Go-Round was a funky little number that featured some tasteful sax work by the legendary Ernie Watts (a star woodwind player on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson for twenty years) and an amazing trio of backing vocalists. Sherlie Matthews, Venetta Fields and Clydie King are three women of color who were among the very best in the music business. The effect on Terry's Fender Rhodes gives the song a unique feel, but the message of Merry-Go-Round is an important one. "The song is like a movie illustrating our lives until the end, when wisdom from above breaks through," said Terry Clark. At the end of the song, the tempo slows dramatically, perfectly illustrating the last few lyric lines...

People on a merry-go-round
Pick yourself up and turn around
Let Jesus slow you down

The Vietnam War was going strong in the Sixties. One day, while still working and partying in Southern California, Terry Clark received an envelope in the mail. It was an invitation to report for the draft in Fort Worth, Texas. But after his training, instead of immediately being deployed to Vietnam like 90% of his class, Terry was sent to Japan, where his skill at blending in with his surroundings again came in handy. "I became a Japanese," Clark says. "I adapted well. I listened attentively and learned the street language. I had Japanese friends from Sapporo to Tokyo." Clark was only in Japan for nine months before Uncle Sam ordered him to pack his bags for Thailand. "They had a party for me when I was fixing to leave and there were hundreds of Japanese - bar owners and taxi drivers and prostitutes. You know, the real people. And they were all crying and blubbering in their beer and giving me gifts. But I flew Air America to the jungle of Thailand up near the Golden Triangle. They dropped me into there and I had a culture shock."

Terry tells of being around natives with water buffaloes as friends. He talks of being introduced to hallucinogenic drugs that were like nothing he had ever experienced before.  "I became a Thai," Terry says. "I adapted very deeply into the culture." After being stoned out of his mind for seven months straight, Terry's closest Thai friend committed suicide. It fell to Terry to take care of the body and give his friend a proper Thai funeral. "That dealt a blow to me that I didn't really see until I arrived at the next foreign country," Terry said. 

After coming back to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for reset, Clark's world tour continued as the Army decided to send him to Germany this time. He was finally tired of the whole chameleon thing. "When I got to Germany, I wasn't really in the mood to adapt anymore," Terry said. "I was tired. I didn't want to hear people speaking German, much less learn it." Of course, the drugs were just as prevalent, only in this part of the world it was mostly hash.   

In Germany, the cumulative effect of the drug use and the horrific things that Terry had seen up-close-and-personal began to weigh heavily on his mental and emotional state. "One night I came to a conclusion that changed everything," he said. "I had seen everything that humans can do, and I had participated in most of it. And I was just so disgusted to be a human being, I couldn't stand it anymore. So I decided to totally reject everything that had anything to do with the human existence of Terry Clark."

U.S. Army Hospital • Munich, Germany • 1960s

Exactly what happened next is not entirely clear. It might've been the ill effects of drug use, perhaps an extreme case of PTSD (before we knew to call it that), or maybe what my parents would call a good old-fashioned nervous breakdown. Terry describes it by saying that he stepped across a little white picket fence in his mind. "For the first time in my life I was free," he says. "Free from the expectations of other people, free from having to perform, and free from even my own desires to be accepted and approved." 

What we do know is at that point, Terry was judged to be insane. "They showed up in their little white coats, put me in a van, and took me to a hospital," he reports. "They put me in the mental ward of a military hospital in Munich, Germany." Doctors soon determined that Terry's psychosis was too deep to expect any kind of recovery. They felt that this was a result of things that happened during Terry's time in Thailand, and that there was no hope of him ever regaining his sanity. 

What happened next was a miracle.

Why don't you come on and look
See what that Man sees
when He looks at you
And sees you on your knees


Why don't you let go and love
Feel what that Man does
When He takes, when He takes the blame for us

Oh, men of earth

Your eyes came with birth
But lies taught your eyes to hate
Oh, so let's close them before it's too late

Look through those loving eyes

Oh, those living eyes
Those living, loving eyes of Jesus

Those loving eyes of Jesus...

As he lay in a psych ward of a hospital on the other side of the world, Terry Clark was about to experience a visitation from the Lord Jesus...the One that he lovingly calls his childhood friend. Like the song says, lies had taught Terry's eyes to hate. But Jesus showed up right on time. 

Living, Loving Eyes is another song that was originally recorded by Children of Faith for inclusion on an early Jesus Music sampler back in Texas. But the definitive version is found here on Welcome. Terry's piano work, the vocal harmonies, and Stephen Houston's strings combine to make this, the album's closer, a highlight. Houston had been a member of a famous Irish "high rock" group known as Frupp, but he came to know the Lord following a live performance of Jimmy & Carol Owens' If My People musical in the U.K. Terry says that at that point, Stephen Houston's life radically changed. Terry Clark describes Houston as an incredible musician and songwriter; they met when they were both asked to join the band Liberation Suite. "So we brought Stephen in from Northern Ireland to North Hollywood and Mama Jo's, just to do the strings on Living, Loving Eyes," Terry told me. 

"Living, Loving Eyes was a very visual depiction of physical actions suggesting that we can see the world, people and daily circumstances through His eyes," said Terry. "This would follow the fact that He has 'shed abroad in our hearts His Spirit.' That means everything about His disposition is there in our hearts and informs our minds to operate our bodies according to the disposition of the new creature. His perspective, His desires, and His ways."  

So Terry was lying in a room on the psych floor of a military hospital in Munich, with a "no hope" diagnosis...when he heard a familiar voice. "My childhood friend was suddenly in the room," Terry recalls. "I didn't have to debate about who it was when He began to speak to me. Jesus said to me, 'Terry, I know how you feel. I've seen everything that humans have ever done. And believe me, I'm grossed out, too. But I want you to see the difference in our response to that. You have decided not to be a human being. But I chose to become one.'" 

Clark says that Jesus then flooded him with how He feels toward human beings. "I was instantly drowned in a passion and a love that eclipsed my disgust and humiliation," Terry said. "In that moment I knew why Jesus went to the cross." Terry Clark says that in that visitation, Jesus swept away the ashes of his burned-out brain and replaced it with a fresh one. "I wanted back in the game," he said. His diagnosis went from "no hope" to "recovering satisfactorily." Within a week, they sent him home. 

Terry reconnected with his parents in Corpus Christi, Texas, and began attending church there. That's where he became aware of the aforementioned group Children of Faith, a group whose members included his brother Duane and his future wife Nancy. Their piano player had moved on, so they talked Terry into playing piano and serving as the leader of the group. In 1972, while Larry Norman and Love Song were making headlines in the Golden State, Children of Faith released a full-length Jesus Music album and started making waves in the Lone Star State.

Children of Faith played a lot in the Texas hill country, especially at a popular coffee house in San Marcos operated by Hill Country Faith Ministries. That ministry put on an annual Christian music festival and one year they invited both Children of Faith and Liberation Suite to play the festival. [Liberation Suite was signed to Myrrh Records and was gaining a national following.]  This would prove to be the hand of God at work in Terry's life and ministry. Let me explain.

Terry Clark is 2nd from the left

The Children of Faith drummer couldn't make the gig, so Randy HIll, Liberation Suite's drummer, sat in with Children of Faith. Friendships were formed and before the festival was over, an invitation would be extended for Terry and his brother Duane Clark to join Liberation Suite on a European tour in 1975, one that included stops at concert halls and universities all over the United Kingdom. Liberation Suite was perhaps even more popular in the U.K. than in America, so it was decided that they would play a large role in introducing Chuck Girard (formerly of the foundational and internationally-acclaimed group Love Song) as a solo artist during a 6-week tour of the U.K., Europe and Scandinavia. 

Terry and his brother Duane

Liberation Suite

This would lead to Terry becoming friends with Girard and later becoming a member of the Chuck Girard Band. It was Girard himself who would suggest that Terry sign with Good News Records as a solo artist. And when Terry Clark went to Mama Jo's to record Welcome, Chuck Girard sat in the producer's chair. 

"Chuck is a great producer," said Terry Clark, "from knowing what musicians to use on specific songs to gently being able to bring the best out of the singer whose name is on the project, as well as helping each unique, professional musician in their assigned parts." Terry then offers a unique assessment of his friend Chuck's producing talents, one that is unlike anything you've probably heard before: "It's like cutting into a hot loaf of fresh bread and getting the full cloud and astounding explosion of sensational pleasure, and knowing that it's been recorded to be experienced over and over." (I warned you. You'll notice that Terry Clark is one more deep thinker...and expresses himself in ways that are uncommonly thought-provoking.)   

Chuck Girard

Mama Jo's was a Southern California studio with a star-studded history. Welcome was recorded there, and it was engineered by a seasoned veteran by the name of Joe Bellamy. "Joe and I became very close, eternal friends during those long days and nights of recording," Terry reports. "He was a truly professional engineer but even more of a pro at the piano and the B3." [Bellamy would be tapped to produce Terry Clark's sophomore release, Melodies, in 1980.]

How did I first hear Terry Clark? It was through a promotional sampler album called, Bringin’ A New Song. It was a full-length vinyl LP that came as a bonus when you purchased an album from one of the featured artists. Turned out to be a pretty effective way for Word to showcase a lot of their new artists for a wider audience. The sampler contained songs from "youngsters" with names like Amy Grant, Steve Camp, DeGarmo & Key, and the Alwyn Wall Band. That "sampler platter" introduced me to artists like Wendell Burton, Nedra Ross and Fireworks. But it was a song called Time Enough by Terry Clark that stood out over all the others. 

There's an intimacy, an immediacy, to Time intro, no frills, just a great vocal by Terry and his then-signature Fender Rhodes electric piano. Later, strings come in to lend a little auditory support. Terry says the track was arranged in such a way as to penetrate the heart of the listener. It's a bluesy ballad about love...loving your neighbor...and selflessness.

Feel around until you touch someone
Make them burn their bridges for your smile
Take them in your arms until their tears are gone
It will only take a little while

There's time enough to give yourself

To feel you've helped someone
There's time enough to take your love off the shelf
Stop thinking of yourself and what you've done
And love someone 

Take some time out just to think of someone else

You may find another kind of love
Make them count on you each time they need your help
'Cause that's what real love is made of

'Cause there's much more to life than livin'

You were made to do some givin'
You will find there's much more of yourself than you could see
If you sing some harmony

On the strength of that one song, my brothers and I knew we had to add this album to our collection. We were not disappointed. 

The up-tempo songs Let's Have a Good Time and Make a Noise, both on side one, are still live concert favorites all these years later.

Clocking in at right around two minutes, Let's Have a Good Time is a real treat. Sounds like a song Ray Charles could've had some fun with. In fact, if you weren't familiar with Terry, you just might assume he was a black man after listening to this song. He sang it with a healthy dose of soul. It's a piano-based blues track that makes good use of the talents of the previously mentioned all-female backing trio. But again, Terry's vocal is the main attraction here.

I asked him about the origins of Let's Have a Good Time and he said, "Once we've come to Him and He's come into us, we intuitively understand what a 'good time' really is. And that's in stark contrast to what the world has led us to believe. I say let's get in and do it to the max!" 

Let's have a good time
Put a big smile on your face
Let's have a good time
Girls sing tenor, boys sing bass
May be the last time we get together here on earth
So for Heaven's sake, let's have a good time

When I mentioned the enthusiastic reception given to this song by live audiences, Terry said, "That's precisely because our hearts instinctively long for the joy that only comes when we're with Him and are drowned in the sea of His grace, love, peace, and pure, abounding joy!"

"There's a homing device in every human heart," he added.

Next up is a scripture song called Make A Noise. A toe-tapping favorite centered around the piano, this song is an excellent way to memorize the 100th Psalm. Terry joyfully sings, shouts and growls his way through this one, and the late, great Jon Linn turns in a very memorable twin-harmony-guitar solo. "There's a reason they called him Wonderfingers," Terry said with a smile.

Side one of Welcome concluded with something entirely different from the rest of the album. Red Cloud was apocalyptic tour de force. "That song was a reaction to living Scripture," Terry said. "It's about the third of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Revelation 6."

The red cloud is rising
Reflections are on the shore
You can feel it in the wind
Soon time will be no more

You know love is dying

'Cause you can feel nothing in your heart
You know you hear someone crying
But you don't know where to start

The giant is on the horizon

He's come to wage war
And the black steed he sits upon
Has bore his master far

If you've got a dollar

You can buy a loaf of bread
Or maybe a pound of barley
If there's a price upon your head

What's that number on your head?  

Terry Clark says that drummer Jeff Porcaro's genius was on full display on Red Cloud. "When he took the brushes out," Terry said, "and started waving them in front of the mic, the hair on the back of my neck was very responsive." [Porcaro was known for his work with Toto, Steely Dan, Paul McCartney, and others.]

Jeff Porcaro

I remember traveling with my brother to Columbia, South Carolina in the early 2000s to see Terry and Nancy Clark at a cool venue known as the Pavilion Coffee Shop (long since closed, sadly). At that time, Terry didn't know us from Laurel & Hardy. I took the opportunity during the intermission to request a song. I wanted to be a wise guy and, at the same time, demonstrate my love for and knowledge of Terry's extensive catalog of music. So I said, "Can you do Red Cloud?" I remember him just looking at me a little funny and he said something like, "Sure. Yeah...Red Cloud. Right." 

He didn't do it.

So a lot of people take a look at this cover and they don't immediately recognize Terry Clark because this was before he started wearing his trademark fedoras. But I'll have to say, the bell-bottoms on the cover of Welcome were pretty awesome in their own right. [Terry says they were Night Flight trousers with Ryder boots.] The cover photos were taken by Ed Caraeff at a studio specifically set up for album cover photo sessions. 

We've already mentioned several of the players on Welcome, but it's worth pointing out that Clark was backed on his debut album by a slew of top-drawer session musicians. "Studio recording is a business," Terry told me. "And it's a joy-filled business when it's carried out by seasoned studio players and singers. I was amazed at the lineup of folks Chuck was able to call in for a Terry Clark album."

I'll list a few more of the folks in the supporting cast, followed by Terry's comments...

Emory Gordy, Jr.: "From a historic family of musicians. Elvis Presley's bass player in the 70s. Played with Billy Joel, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, Ricky Skaggs and others." 

Gary Ferguson: "Worked with Stevie Nicks, Eddie Money, Larry Carlton, and more."

Paul Humphrey: "Played with Ray Charles and Steely Dan."

Cliff Woolley: "Was a member of The Association and an early member of Ambrosia."

David Pack: "Another member of Ambrosia who contributed some excellent guitar styling."

Jimmy Haskell: "One of the great string arrangers of all time. There's more than twenty pages of albums that he worked his magic on." 

Jon Linn: "A close friend. He was a member of the Chuck Girard Band and the Terry Clark Band, and one of the most authentic, raw, lead guitarists. But also a bit more supernatural. Jon made a much-too-early exit, the victim of a hit-and-run driver, but not before he raised a lot of eyebrows and made his band mates cry out with amazement in the middle of just about any song we performed in all of the countries we played in." [Readers of this blog will remember that Linn was a favorite guitarist of Larry Norman as well.]

Side Two of Welcome contained a love song at a time when there just weren't that many straight up, romantic love songs on Christian albums. And the word 'doggone' was used in the lyrics. Bonus points for that.

"I was alone at Ruxley Lodge with only a nineteenth century, barely functioning piano, waiting for Nancy to arrive from Texas, and Your Love For Me just bubbled up from within my soul," said Terry, "and ripped the lacquer off the front of that piano. I was preparing to sing it for her when we were together. She arrived with nothing but necessary clothes and personal things, but the Lord spectacularly showed off His desire and amazing design for our wedding, including holding the event clear on the other side of the world from our roots and previous lives." Terry says that their wedding day turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day - the only such day at Ruxley Lodge in October of 1975. 

Your Love For Me struck a special chord with me as a teenager. When you're young, you tend to be idealistic about love and marriage, and you have all of these questions about who you're going to meet...and how...and where...and dreams of what life is going to be like when godly, romantic love is finally fully given and received. This song was encouraging, and it was a little different, a little more earthy than most CCM love songs in the 70s. Not excessively so...but just enough to make it really compelling. And Terry sings it on this album like a man who is undeniably, madly in love with his lady.

Oh, your love for me
Is like the freshness of the Spring
Oh, your love for me
Is all I needed to make me sing
You gave me joy
Made me feel like a brand new boy
You made me smile
And all the while
There was your love

Oh, your love for me

Came when I thought love had passed me by
Then Jesus saw what I needed most of all
Was a girl whose love wouldn't make me cry
So He looked around
All over this doggone town
For that something new
That's when He found you
And there it was, your love  

Oh, your love for me

Oh, sweet girl
Filling me up with love so fine
In Jesus I'll hide 
And with you by my side
There ain't nothin', girl
Nothin' gonna keep me from your sweet love

Just me and Jesus and your sweet love

Terry says that after his breakdown and subsequent healing in Munich, Nancy and Children of Faith became like family to him. "Nancy became my best friend," he says. "I was still in the early stages of recovery from ending up in the psych ward in that military hospital where Jesus gave me a new mind, so I wasn't very good at expressing myself. And when I did try, most people would get this look on their face like their mother had just called them, and they would disappear. But she actually listened and cared about what the Lord was doing in me. I'm happy to say that still holds true, going on 45 years. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I've had the opportunity to be in concerts and worship services with Terry and Nancy for probably ten times now. Or more. Church services, yes, but also home gatherings and private meals shared around tables of fellowship. I can tell you that these two absolutely function as a team, especially in their work for the Lord. Nancy is such a strong support for her husband...he just might be in big trouble without her!

"I'm afraid my mode of expression is sometimes foreign to her still," Terry admits. "But her natural reflex is to help, not berate, especially when I realize it and become frustrated with my ineptness at communicating. She understands that Jesus is our only source of sanity, and most graphically mine from the time He rescued me in Munich."

Theirs is a very special love story.

Your Love For Me was followed by another love song. For Each Other was a wedding song for some special friends. "This girl was a close friend of Nancy's younger sister and when we came back to the states and moved to LA, we connected just before they were going to get married. So the song was written for their wedding with their names in the song...

Valerie, so beautiful
Tom, so debonair

Of course, on Welcome, the track was de-personalized...

Woman, so beautiful
Man, so debonair

Terry smiled and said, "There have been a few more names inserted over the years." 

Clark was also pleased with For Each Other from a sonic standpoint. "The combination of Jimmy Haskell's string arrangement and David Pack's guitar work, and the sound that Joe got out of it still astonishes me to this day," he said.

Then we move from romantic love to God's love for us. I asked Terry about the motivation for Oh, the Love. "That one was a result of finding myself inside God's heart," he answered. "The revelation is perfectly described by the words, 'God so loved,' but with an astonishing, overflowing passion." 

Once again He's calling
Why do you still wait?
Why not now?
You know how
Please don't hesitate
Come with Me
Lay your life down at His feet

Before you knew, He'd given you all He had to give

Now if you know, He just wants to show you how to live
Oh, the love
Everlasting love

When I said that Oh, the Love sounds like it could be what we used to call an 'altar call' song, Terry said, "It's basically a musical representation of the invitation that the Spirit germinates in the heart of each and every lost and desperate soul."

Terry with Chuck & Karen Girard's oldest daughter, Kristin

We've got one song left to discuss from Welcome and that's the title track. It happens to be the very first song on the album and it breaks a lot of norms. Usually, you tap an upbeat, pop or rock tune as that lead-off hitter. You're not expected to begin an album with a mellow ballad, especially one that starts off a little dark. Add to that a vertical worship focus...way before worship was cool. So, of course, I asked Terry Clark about this deviation from expected norms and he said just what I thought he'd say: "Seemed to me like an appropriate greeting in both directions, into the Lord's presence and to the ones He wants to talk to."

We had no idea at the time. But looking back, I think it's absolutely appropriate that this song, the very first song that we heard on Terry's debut recording as a solo artist, foreshadowed the worship emphasis that he would so effectively embrace in later years.

Terry and Nancy became pioneers in true, authentic, intimate worship - more about that a little later - but it turns out that Welcome was a nod in that direction right out of the gate. It's as if God was telegraphing how He intended to use this healed and restored, piano-playing servant of His. 

Come be with us, Lord... Open up our hearts today, shed on us Your light...We now welcome You to transform and renew...Breathe into us new life, mold us Your way...

It was there from the start.

Musically, Welcome is anointed and captivating; it also contains a vocal octave jump by Terry that accomplishes a couple of things: 1) it serves notice on the listener that Hey, this guy can SING! and 2) it gives said listener goose bumps (especially the first time you hear it).

I asked Terry if he was pleased with the finished product...once he was able to hold it in his hands or put it on a turntable and give it a spin, what did he think about it? His answer was that it caused him to re-live the intimate moments and conversations with the Lord Jesus that produced all of those songs. And it also filled him with gratitude as he reflected on the hard work in the studio and the contributions of so many talented and creative professionals. 

"Welcome, Ugadano Thawanu Maija, Let's Have a Good Time, Make a Noise, and Red Cloud all sparked conversations and discovery from people all over the world," he says, "that was displayed in a myriad of expressions, ranging from surprised silent, internal contemplation." [Ed. note: You can put my brothers and me in the "surprised delight" camp. There was no disgust whatsoever at our house when Welcome was on the record player.]

Two years later, Terry recorded Melodies, his sophomore release on Good News Records. Produced by Joe Bellamy, it boosted the production values a little and contained some sparking pop/rock CCM that caused more people to find Terry's music and become devoted listeners. But a funny thing happened on the way to album #3.

"It was during the updraft of the industry that we were working on Melodies," Terry recalls. "What I mean is, at that time, the Christian music business adapted the aggressive promotion, timing and pace of the secular industry, as well as their business philosophy. The Lord began to say to me, 'Terry, this turn that's taking place is natural and logical for the business world, but for you and Me it's just an endless cycle around a carousel. We will stay the course, moving straight ahead on the narrow path we started on when you squeezed through that tight gate in Munich, which led to recovery and all that followed. We will continue in the mainstream of what we are about and not get caught in the endless eddys of the record business or entertainment world.'"

Terry continued: "So when Freddie Piro called me in to talk about album #3, I genuinely from my heart thanked him for all that he, Mama Jo's and Chuck Girard had done, but that there wouldn't be a #3. I explained that the Lord had been speaking to us for an entire year about continuing to walk straight ahead with Him. After hugs and handshakes, I walked away and we went on the road. While out on the road, we began to hear within a week, without any coordination between any of us, that several other artists in the 'pioneer' category had made the same decision to stay the course in what all of us knew was the established 'mainstream' for us."

What Terry is talking about is something that CCM devotees were not really aware of as the 70s gave way to the 80s. But I've heard/read that Keith Green, Chuck Girard, Nancy Honeytree and others all arrived at the same conclusion at roughly the same time.

Now that Clark had gotten off the Christian Music train headed for commercial success, he was able to more exclusively aim at opening up and expanding the conversational intimacy with God, dependency on God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit in the most powerful language ever created by God Himself - music. In 1983 a friend in Germany (Thomas) came to California to visit Terry and Nancy. Thomas had heard about a project that was being finished at that time called Living Worship. It was being co-produced by Terry & Joe Bellamy, and was possibly the first-ever full album of continual songs connected in what Terry Clark calls "conversational continuity."  In other words...authentic, intimate worship, not directed to the listener, but directed to Jesus. "That was an interesting recording challenge," Terry remembers, "but with Joe at the helm, the doctor was in."

Clark further explains: "Thomas was a part of the leadership of Living Bibles International, and wanted to put the two 'Living' projects together and do a European tour with Living Worship raising support for Living Bibles International’s project of developing the Living Bible in a language in remote Northern India." Terry says he flew home after that tour full of joy, because when the Lord had directed him to stay on the original course that had been started by Him from the beginning, He had clearly promised to do a “new thing,” and Terry was ecstatically convinced that He had just fulfilled that promise. But Terry heard the Lord whisper, "That wasn’t it," and before the plane landed at LAX, He had mapped out the next 5 years of projects. The first was to release Living Worship under the Clark’s ministry label,
Firstfruits (now Catalyst) in the U.S., and that project would continue with a second volume called Let’s Worship (1986). The projects that followed Let’s Worship were done exactly according to the schedule God had revealed on the plane home from Europe. A fresh wind began to blow across Christendom, eventually resulting, I believe, in a full-blown worship renewal. 

God was doing a new thing and Terry Clark was right in the middle of it. Those albums touched our hearts and made us aware of the presence of the Lord like nothing before. All I know is that the anointing of the Holy Spirit is so strong on those records that...well, it's impossible to explain. I've read accounts where people say that the first time they heard Let's Worship, they literally had to pull the car over to the side of the road and just weep. 

Since those landmark recordings in the mid-80s, the Clarks have spent the intervening years crafting other quality recordings (several produced by the late Roby Duke) and leading worship among audiences large and small – everything from Promise Keepers rallies in sports stadiums to house gatherings among friends.

"We're still going with Him where He wants to go, to the people He sends us to," Terry said. "We simply do what He puts in our hands with all the graces that He gives us, keeping a concentrated focus on Him and being immersed together in His book every day. Our Lord has made it clear that our dependency is on Him alone. That means for everything. That takes some deep work of the Spirit in parts of our hearts, and especially in our natural programming. And that is ongoing."

To stay abreast of All Things Terry Clark, visit It's an extensive website that features music, reading resources and Scriptural helps, a way to sign up for Terry's weekly emails, and just all kinds of stuff.

As I alluded to earlier, I've learned to love Terry and Nancy Clark not just as ministers but as friends. They are the real deal. I’ve been in worship services with the Clarks many times and I never cease to be amazed at the unique anointing that seems to rest on their ministry. Try as I might, I cannot adequately explain it. But it’s a very real thing, and greatly appreciated. I've been walking through my own personal "valley of the shadow of death" over the past year and I cannot tell you how many times God will take control of my playlist, whether it's my iPod Touch or my iPhone or my iPod Classic...and He will cause just the right song by Terry and Nancy to just the time I most need to hear it, redirecting my gaze from my problems and onto the Lord.

The very first time I heard Terry live was when he came to my Dad's church (I'm a PK) in Taylors, South Carolina in the late 90s. It was a Sunday night. Of course, being the fanboy that I was, I took my Welcome LP, hoping to get it signed. Terry obliged. He took the sharpie and wrote, "Thankful that this music is still touching hearts. Jesus knows."

"I have always had an inner hope that I would hear someday, someone, somewhere had consciously got it and joined in the conversation," he told me. "The prayerful hope is that when we all are together in our new, eternal home with Jesus in the Father's house, that I'll meet someone there that will have that joyous report. In the meantime, I'm perfectly satisfied by the confidence that the conversations that people's hearts engage in, even in the Spirit unconsciously, will bear fruit and will become ravenously hungry for God and His all-inclusive, living Word, Jesus."

I just visited to see what Terry and Nancy are up to. They're all over California - Windsor, Fort Bragg, Chico, Sacramento, San Jose, Costa Mesa...and that's just this month! I keep thinking they'll eventually slow down, but as long as there are "body parts" who need to learn how to worship, I guess they'll just keep on keeping on. Last year they helped audiences in New Jersey, Idaho, Connecticut, South Carolina, California, Texas, Washington, Kentucky, and Maine learn to worship the Lord in Spirit and in sit at His feet...and to simply know Him better.

After all...ugadano thawanu maija.

Come to think of it, that would look good on a t-shirt...