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294. Song From Bright Avenue – Bob Bennett

SONGS FROM BRIGHT AVENUE (1991)

Bob Bennett

Songs From Bright Avenue is either the most painfully beautiful album in history or else it is the most beautifully painful album. Perhaps it is both. Written as a catharsis for his recent divorce at the time and many fans felt and shared the pain and struggles that were so transparently displayed on this masterpiece.

Bennett has said that the album is quite “irregular” with the CCM market. When artists go through a divorce (a very unfortunate common occurrence) they most often keep it quiet, take some time off and then show up on tour with a new wife and no one asks any questions. Bennett did the CCM market (and one would assume even himself) a great service by beautifully and honestly presenting the pains and struggles of the circumstances and results of this painful event.

The songs not only deal with loss of love and pain of a family being torn at the seems, there are songs about the impact divorce has on those around the situation, with a special emphasis on the children. The most notable is the song “No Such Thing as Divorce.” Here Bennett deals with not only the impact of the divorce but the confusion and sense of loss the child feels and the empathy the father feels for the pain his children are experiencing. Bennett comforts his children with the loving reminder that there’s no such thing as divorce between a father and his child.

One of the beautiful impacts of the album is just how much there is a sense of hope despite the gut wrenching sense of loss and despair. It is a truly master storyteller at work here that can convey both while never for a moment condescending to easy “Church answers.” This should be no surprise given that Bennett is one of CCM’s truly great master songwriters along with Bruce Cockburn, Mark Heard, Michael and Terry Taylor. The first comparison I find most accurate primarily because of Bennett sharing a tremendoes guitar playing talent comparable to Cockburns.

Speaking of Cockburn, I could easily hear him writing something similar to “The Doing of This Thing,” especially with the instrumentation. Speaking of the instrumental support, there is a wonderful one-up put together by producer Jonathan David Brown. Michael Card, Phil Keaggy, Kelly Willard, David Wilcox, Greg Jennings, mark Hammond and a host of other participated in making this one of Bennett’s “fullest” sounding albums.

There are very few albums that are this incredible that the listener will find as difficult to regularly listen to. But is must be repeated that there is hope amongst the despair and faith amongst the loss. There is even a glimmer of humor (Our Codependent Love). This is not an album everyone will immediately embrace, but it’s album that most likely deserved a high ranking for its pure artistic integrity and flawless musical expression.

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  1. November 9, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Thank you, David, for remembering this work and for championing it on your List. Forgiveness has come, much Healing has come, Grace has certainly come. Yet the many failures of my life (big and small) that led to these songs still haunt from time-to-time. I am a Redeemed Man, but only through Christ. And while that Redemptive Work is “done”, while on this side of Eternity, it’s also “never done”. My prayers are always that God will ultimately heal whatever damage I did that can be repaired in this life. And that He will extend grace and mercy where that is not possible. Grace is only a greeting card notion until you’re staring in the mirror at a man who is his own worst enemy. The magnitude and sheer irrationality of Salvation is my only earthly and heavenly hope.

  2. Lori
    November 9, 2010 at 4:16 am

    Thank You for writing about this cd! I revisit Bob’s work with some frequency and being that Bennett is a great songwriter, this cd holds up to time( as most of his writing does!)

  3. Lee
    January 31, 2011 at 6:39 am

    Thank you Mr Bennett for being so open about your experience. I was going through a very painful divorce in 94 when I found this album for the first time. My son and daughter were 3 and 4 then. Your music spoke directly to the experience my family and I were going through. I regularly played guitar and sang songs to my children and in the years to follow whenever I would get my guitar out and ask them what they wanted to hear my sweet daughter would always enthusiastically say “Do the angel song Daddy!!!!” Some 17 years later there are still wounds that need healing and lives in desperate need of Gods transforming love. I will always be grateful for the words and music you wrote that encourage me now as they did then to press on.

  4. February 9, 2011 at 4:35 am

    Yes, David, thanks for the commentary on this project (and all of those where I was a part). Very much a privilege to have worked with Bob for so many recordings … Still profoundly blessed today by it all … (“I’ve got you under my skin ..”) JDB

  5. Greenchili
    March 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    JDB! Whoaahhh..

  6. November 18, 2012 at 3:11 am

    Uh…Bob Bennett, Woah! So…listened to this about 12 times yesterday. I now believe it is his finest work. And I LOVE Matters of the Heart. Prepare for Joy, Deep as Sorrow to be released around Thanksgiving. Really great.

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