“The Day I Tried To Live”

“Authentic prayer calls us to rigorous honesty, to come out of hiding, to quit trying to seem impressive, to acknowledge our total dependence on God and the reality of our sinful situation.” ~Brennan Manning, Devotions For Ragamuffins, Pp.8

My life, so far, has unfolded neatly in chapters. Starting almost precisely from the day that I graduated from high school in June 1994 and lasting for about the next five years, I experienced a dark chapter. It was a time characterized by my parents’ divorce, loved ones being incarcerated, loved ones passing away, the loss of our home and all possessions in a house fire, loneliness, depression, broken relationships, the consistent flow of alcohol, discovery of a brain tumor, subsequent treatment, and surgery. All of these things, however, proved to be secondary as contributing factors to a darkness that originated primarily from the fact that my back was turned to His love. Like many, I suppose, my college years were a time to shun morality for the sake of experience. Enemies and mistakes were made, time and opportunities were squandered, and sins were committed at a furious rate.

My soundtrack during those years consisted of a consistent flow of Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, R.E.M., Faith No More, and Social Distortion. One Soundgarden song in particular stung my cold-encased and numb soul with piercing relevance at that time. It was just recently that I was playing some of my old dusty CD’s when “The Day I Tried To Live” (from Superunknown) and the circumstances of that time bubbled back to the surface of my memory. Juxtaposed against a retrospective view of the journey I’ve made since that time, the song lyrics still retain a ring of relevance, but, from a different perspective. Regardless, the truth is the same from any angle.

Soundgarden front-man and songwriter Chris Cornell’s lyrics intertwine good intentions with frustration and, perhaps unwittingly, the truth of God. He hit the nail on the head when he observed that life is a viscous cycle of meaninglessness and futility. Nobody is good. But, in recognizing how broken we are, the reality that we are liars and the fact that we have “wallowed in the mud with all the other pigs,” we have the opportunity to accept God’s grace and be freed from the “one more time around” mindset.

I woke the same as any other day
Except a voice was in my head
It said seize the day, pull the trigger
Drop the blade, and watch the rolling heads

The day I tried to live
I stole a thousand beggars change
And gave it to the rich

The day I tried to win
I dangled from the power lines
And let the martyrs stretch

One more time around might do it
One more time around might make it
One more time around might do it
One more time around
The day I tried to live

Words you say never seem
To live up to the ones inside your head
The lives we make never seem
To ever get us anywhere but dead

The day I tried to live
I wallowed in the blood and mud with
All the other pigs

I woke the same as any other day you know
I should have stayed in bed

The day I tried to win
I wallowed in the blood and mud with
All the other pigs

And I learned that I was a liar
Just like you

Music & Lyrics: Chris Cornell

Album Review: THE BLOOD by Kevin Max (12/26/07)

The standard Mac dictionary software on my ibook offers multiple definitions of Gospel including the following: (1) the teaching or revelation of Christ; (2) a thing that is absolutely true; (3) a set of principles or beliefs; (4) a fervent style of black American evangelical religious singing, developed from spirituals sung in Southern Baptist and Pentecostal churches.
The third full-length solo release from former dc Talk member Kevin Max epitomizes each of these definitions. My intent for posting my a review this album does as well: The Blood, as an album, is truly good news that I need to share.
I am not one who enjoys vanilla (unless it is Ben & Jerry’s which squelches my heartburn) and, as a father of two and a teacher, I don’t have a lot of extra time or energy to devote to the homogenized sap that permeates the majority of radio playlists – Christian or not. The latest solo offering form Kevin Max, however, is worth taking in. With The Blood Kevin Max has effectively delivered a high-potency project that is pure in content with no preservatives.
In a nutshell, The Blood showcases Kevin Max’s penetratingly unique voice, the core, redemptive message of Jesus Christ, and reverence for the roots of American rock music. Each track has unique characteristics which allow it stand alone amidst a loaded album that contains no fillers.
For people mainly used to the higher end of Max’s vocal range, the first track, “The Old Rugged Cross,” comes across as a stark, pleasing surprise. It immediately reminded me of Johnny Cash’s My Mother’s Hymnbook partly because of the surprising Cash-esqe growl and also because of the simple guitar, vinyl-static arrangement.
“The Cross” features a reunion of sorts with former cohorts Toby McKeehan and Michael Tait lending vocals to the Prince cover to create a track that, while featuring a characteristically dc Talk sound, accomplishes a direct and personal delivery of the gospel message that is the common thread of the album and the foundation of the Christian faith.
“Run On For A Long Time,” which features former American Idol finalist Chris Sligh, is an uptempo track (complete with horns) that I can’t seem to get out of my head. The song is virtually impossible not to sing along to when it is playing. While the rest of the tracks are all unique in character, they all exhibit an authentic, often rural gospel flare.
“Trouble of the World,” “I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole,” and “They Won’t Go When I Go,” all exude sincerity-laden, solitary, personal testimony of the redeeming nature of the gospel of Christ. The simplicity of the musical arrangements in each song only amplify the power of the message being communicated.
Of the two most characteristically country tracks on the album “One Way – One Blood” (featuring Joanne Cash) is the most satisfying because of what I perceive to be a more personal, less-produced flavor in comparison to “Up Above My Head,” which features Amy Grant and Vince Gill. I admit that this perception may have come as a result of the sing-along-style outro that “One Way – One Blood” closes the album with.
“People Get Ready,” (featuring Erica Campbell from Mary Mary) and “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” are two tracks that make me just want to close my eyes and sway with the choir while I sing along with my hands raised.
Kevin Max has achieved the mark of a true artist on this album, in my opinion, by so successfully and convincingly displaying his range of style and ability on a selection of songs that are as different in style as they are similar in message. While only one of the tracks on The Blood is an original, I believe that the message of The Blood is what validates the authenticity Kevin Max as a person and an artist and is what, inevitably, carried over to shape an authentic collection of recordings that can be appreciated by the masses and needs to be heard everyone.

The Blood