Thursday, July 08, 2004

Deep enough to dream...

I really, really like Chris Rice, so I'm delighted that Charmel just handed me a copy of his "Best of..." CD, Short Term Memories.

Most of my favorites are here, including "Deep Enough to Dream," which is the song that introduced me to the talented singer/songwriter back in 1997. I was immediately struck by Rice's vocal similarity to one of my all-time favorites, James Taylor. Since then, the Taylor resemblance has diminished somewhat, which is fine. Rice is an able vocalist in his own right, with a pleasant and folksy vibe to his singing.

But my appreciation for Rice has only grown. He has written some of the best (and I believe, most enduring) songs in Christian music in the past several years.

This CD also includes some of my other faves, including "Smellin' Coffee," the lovely "Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus), "And Your Praise Goes On," and what has become one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time (although it's perfectly appropos at any time of year), "Welcome to Our World."

And of course, no "Best of" Chris Rice CD would be complete without the enormously popular "Cartoons" :

"I was thinking the other day
What if cartoons got saved?
They'd start singing praise
In a whole new way"

Rice then proceeds to ponder on what it would sound like if Fred Flintstone, the Smurfs, Yogi Bear and other cartoon icons started singing praises to God. Of course, this song has to be heard to be appreciated.

My respect for Rice grew when I received a copy of his Living Room Sessions CD...which is simply Rice playing classic hymns on his own living room piano. His playing style is relaxed and pleasant, a bit reminiscent of a Jim Brickman style.

My daughter-in-law Daylyn and son Jonathan used Rice's arrangment of "For the Beauty of the Earth" in their wedding, as the bridesmaids walked down the aisle. Beautiful. Now whenever I hear that version, I think of that happy occasion.

I like Rice's thinking when it comes to preserving those classic hymns. In my opinion, they are a priceless treasure, and nothing stirs my soul musically quite like some of those timeless songs of worship.

Says Rice: ""I have recorded some of my favorite hymns on the piano in my home... I left a few notes in that don't quite belong, and you might even hear the piano bench creak every now and then, but I decided to leave the humanness in, like I found it in my church growing up."

But about "Short Term Memories" only disappointment is that the song "Hallelujahs" is not included. It's one of my very favorite Chris Rice songs, and was on his debut "Deep Enough to Dream" CD. Admittedly, more people may recognize it from Kathy Troccoli's version, but I prefer Chris's version. I like this song so much, I hope to buy the sound track and sing it myself.

Strangely, lists "Hallelujahs" as track 9 on the CD...but my copy has "Life Means So Much" as Track 9, and "Hallelujahs" is nowhere to be found. Actually I do have the song on another CD, but it would have been nice to have all my Chris Rice favorites in one place.

Here are some of the lyrics of "Hallelujahs":

"O cratered moon and sparrow's wings
O thunder's boom and Saturn's rings
unveil our Father as you sing
and my soul wells up with hallelujahs
The pulse of life within my wrist
A fallen snow, a rising mist
There is no higher praise than this
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs"

Lovely my opinion, worthy to endure.

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