I got tagged on Facebook to do this project – share ten albums that greatly influenced my taste in music. One album per day for ten consecutive days. In theory for the Facebook version this is supposed to be without explanation… but I want to explain! So I’m going to blog the explanations here.
One pattern that shows up in this list is my propensity to discover an artist not at their first album and then work forward, but to discover a later album and then work my way back through their discography. As I did with Michael W. Smith in my teens, and as I would in my 30s with Arcade Fire, U2, and Radiohead, in my late 20s I did with a little band called Caedmon’s Call.
I know my brother had a copy of their self-titled album back when I was in college, and I’m sure I listened to it a time or two but it just didn’t click for me. In retrospect, this really irks me because Caedmon’s was playing great shows and doing fan community events in the Houston area when I was in college in East Texas… road trips would not have been out of the question. But I digress.
Fast forward to 2000 and I’m a young guy wandering the Christian book store (remember when those existed?) listening to demo CDs (or those?). On a whim I gave this CD a spin, and the acoustic guitar loop and B3 organ kicking off the title track sucked me in. And then there were little trumpet accents the second time through the intro riff, and I was completely hooked. (I would find out later that long-time Caedmon’s fans hated those trumpets, but what did I know? And again I digress.)
Long Line of Leavers sucked me in and never let me go. I don’t know that it’s Caedmon’s best record – but it’s also hard to classify best. Their self-titled record and follow-up 40 Acres have their classic acoustic sound, with some twisty Derek Webb lyrics thrown in for good measure. Later on, Share The Well (a concept album written and partially recorded in India) would bring a new level of maturity to their songwriting and production and set that record apart. But Long Line of Leavers was my gateway drug.
Finding this record and this band had more long-term impact on my life than probably any other record I’ll have on this list, save maybe for the one I’ll close with. Because after finding Caedmon’s and doing some internet searches to find out more about them, I stumbled upon a discussion forum run by and for Caedmon’s fans. I lurked there for a while. In 2004 I joined, picked an unintentionally hilarious username, and started posting. The other forum stalwarts became my friends. Through the years I have met many of them in person and deepened those friendships in meaningful ways. Their friends have become my friends. 16 years later they form a community I still interact with every day.
As a musician, I joke now that I learned everything I know about playing a B3 organ from listening to Caedmon’s Call. (There might in reality be a little bit of gospel music influence in there, too, but it’s mostly Caedmon’s.) Then Caedmon’s picked up a new guitar player named Andrew Osenga and I became a massive fanboy of his stuff for several years. And then Caedmon’s community pointed me to Andrew Peterson… but I’ll leave that story for tomorrow.