The Waiting – The Waiting

READER BEWARE: The Waiting is quite possibly the most evangelical band I listen to, so if you are of the “don’t really want to read about Christian bands” persuasion, I advise you to skip today’s entry and catch a later entry where I talk about church-burning Norweigan Black Metal.

Now that those crazy agnostics are out of the way, let’s talk about my favorite Church Rock band:

Chad McBlurryman waits patiently, yet quickly, for the next subway trainNow, as you may know from my many, many entries before this one, I am a fan of Christian rock music, if done successfully and, for the most part, in the year 1997. What you may not know is that there are two kinds of Christian Rock, there is the everyday Christian rock that is basically rock done by Christians (my favorite being Poor Old Lu), and there is “Church Rock”, which specifically caters to the religious in-crowd. This crowd of religious people have kind of a different language when it comes to their music and poetry, and a lot of it is, to us more earthly-minded folk, quite fruity.

Hence, while Christian Rock mainly concerned itself with putting a bit of God into rock, bands like The Waiting are more concerned with putting a bit of rock into God, or singing about Him* anyway.

The rock, in this case, is really clean-cut and smooth. It’s actually quite an enjoyable thing to listen to if you don’t like your rock too rocky. The vocals are a bit on the high-pitched side, the guitars are very melodic, and the whole rhythm section falls on the lighter side as well. This, combined with a host of other instruments and really diverse arrangements, makes for what I can honestly say is a very good album. All of this is null, of course, if you aren’t hip to the concept. Every single song is either a churchy song or touches on some kind of churchy agenda like abstinence.

The first song is a lovely praise song called “Never Dim”, which paints a picture of quaint, country living and the unrest of having to deal with that kind of life and still keeping the faith. The lyrics, I have to admit, are very good:

I think I smell the sunset
Think I feel the close of day
Clean shaven correspondents
Are all crowded at the gate
Smell the oil from their torches
Their voices growing more irate

Sheperds’ staves are crooked
Leading every crooked way
All the sheep lock their doors
Yeah, they’re pulling down their shades
The faithful looking in their mirrors
The faithful growing old and gray

But I look at you
Your eyes are clear and bright
I see your face
It’s an amazing sight
Your glory Lord
Is still a burning light
The light that all our faithless hands
Could never dim

The next song, “How Do You Do That?” is a little more on the “fruity” side I mentioned, but we’re given ample warning with the falsetto “Coo coo coo”s at the beginning. In fact, it took quite a long time for me to really get into that song.

The third song is more like it, “Put The Blame On Me”, which is kind of a message to the unfaithful from a faithful person, as there tends to be a sentiment that is shared all the time about how, when Christianity is seen to be terrible, it’s often the Christians themselves who are to blame for that. But the lyrics, on top of making that much plain, make it plain upon whom the blame shouldn’t fall:

Don’t blame your doubt
If you fear belief
Don’t even blame your pain
Don’t blame a burden only you can see
But if it makes it easy
Put the blame on me

The next song I could swear was a hymn at some point, because it’s that familiar. It’s called “It Is Enough” and contains a really lovely string section that kind of gets its own spotlight at the end with a light cadence beat. It’s a very soothing song and I quite like it.

The next song is “My Pride”, and on top of being a little more “pop” sounding than the songs up to this point, is a good pro-humility song. Most of my favorite Christian songs are ones that deal with humility, because it’s often the most forgotten virtue.

The next song is quite an epic, and quite possibly my favorite song on the album. It’s called “Hands In The Air”, and it’s entirely not what you’d be thinking with that statement. Instead of being one of those things where people put their hands up in church, it’s a song about fighting against Faith, which is quite a touchy subject for your average church-goer. The song is in two parts, the first being a really moody, introspective song about hating an unfair world or whatever other issue the singer is having, but with a mix of submission:

If I raise my hands just lift the shade
Will I reveal a sky heavy and gray?
Will last night be a memory sweetly fading?
How I hate a morning starting out this way
On these lonely raging mornings I would whip You if I could
But You’re on the mighty side of strong and the perfect side of good

The song has a certain wood-wind in it, and I’m afraid I don’t know what it is without digging around for the liner notes, but it’s a lovely melody. The chorus brings in distorted guitars and heavy beats, and after the second chorus, the song ends and a whole new one seems to begin. It’s an entire narrative that is practically chanted about submission, and the whole things gets pretty danged passionate before lapsing into a double chorus and finally the song ends. It’s a fairly intense song, so intense, in fact, that the next few songs are downright goofy by comparison.

First we’ve got “Number 9”, which kind of doesn’t make much sense, but is bluesy and fast-paced and really fun (also numerical in the title, which I dig). The next song is one that, no matter how much I love this band, I just have to skip because it’s a terrible song about abstinence and breaking up with a boy for wanting to “go all the way” but it’s sung by a guy from the perspective of the girl, and that’s just too gay for even my suspension of disbelief.

So how do you follow that up? With a very E-minory arpeggio-driven accordion-flavored song about someone dying and the blessed assurance of a Heavenly home after this life. Yeah, kind of a sharp peak in severity, if you ask me. I often wish that abstinence song wasn’t in there.

Thank goodness the bass has come to save the day. It opens up a relationship-problems song called “No Time For That” with a rather groovy bass-line that is one of the first ones I learned back when I started playing bass. The song is fun, if not a bit simple.

Then we get “Indian Summer”, which is another song, like “Never Dim”, that really portrays country living down home in the good ol’ South, which makes sense since this band is from Atlanta, Georgia. Besides the message of good cheer and hope, there’s a particularly cool really, really long note right at the end that has to be respected.

Finally, we get a vibrato-guitar praise song called “Beautiful Blood”, and unless it’s simply a song about hemophilia, it’s the oh-so obligatory straight-up Praise song that pervades these albums. As it turns out, this one is actually pretty great, again if you can ignore how stunningly bare-faced it is about being a Praise song. If I were God I’d seriously be blushing at what these guys tend to sing, but I’m not, and it’s probably for the better.

Anyway, it should also be noted that this album, like most of the great albums of one of the bigger religions in the world, was done in 1997, but is not one that I would recommend to people who aren’t already Christians that want to get into Christian music. Sorry chaps, this one is strictly for the sheep. We’ll be “baaa”ck tomorrow with another album here on Album Du Jour. God bless!

*You’ll have to excuse the improper pronounce capitalization here, I was kind of raised that way and can’t really train myself out of it.

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4 Responses

  1. I’m liking the Christian music reviews, I should listen to more of it.

    On a side note…it really, really doesn’t seem right to call any Christian song gay. It makes me laugh, but something about that seems hypocritical. But, I guess if President Obama can make speeches on abortion at Notre Dame , then “Yes We Can!”?

  2. Well, it goes back to my writeup of Shaded Red, wherein I kind of introduce a… not “hypocrisy” so much as just plain oddity, within the Christian music thing. Some Christian songs sound like they’re just love songs replacing the girl with God, and there are all kinds of seemingly non-self-aware visuals that go with that (one of the most popular: the male singer being a literal “bride of Christ”), interestingly, Christians who write music like this have no problem practically putting a “male” God in a romantic role, yet they have a big problem with anyone who, say, considers God a woman. It’s interesting to think about, but instead of thinking about it, I just call it gay because it saves time.

  3. Again, I appreciate the review. There is not a christian CD that I have listened to more than this CD, and I only listen to christian music. Wonderful band, and I do agree, that there are a couple of songs that are hard to appreciate, but over time they grow on you like all the others.

  4. […] of my mind, both of which were put out by the once-great Forefront Records: The Waiting’s self-titled debut, and Smalltown Poets’ self-titled […]

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