118. Dark Horse – John Fischer
DARK HORSE (1982)
John Fischer is easily one of the most important musicians and songwriters in the history of Christian Music, credited with creating the very first Contemporary Christian album (beating Larry Norman’s “Upon this Rock” by three months) and writing one of the most popular youth worship songs ever with the “All Day Song (Love Him in the Morning).”He was a Jesus Music pioneer with several albums considered classic by Jesus Music aficionados.
But for most he is the guy, who for over a decade, was best known wrote the single best monthly article in CCM Magazine, the back page monthly feature. The article was a constant challenge to the average Christian with poignant and persuasive attacks of complacent Christianity. He is also one of the three nicest guys i ever met in this industry.
He is soft spoken and soft singing. The listener won’t find passionate, angst filled rock and roll, but rather a collection of James Taylor or England Dan like ballads and soft rock ala Poco with stirring, powerful and utterly human lyrics. In the early 80’s he created his masterpiece, a once in alifetime collection of brilliantly conceived, written and performed gems.
The title track has a touch of Bruce Cockburn’s Humans’ era feel with a little folk and world music vibe lilting in the background. Like most of the album the lyrical direction matched his commentary in CCM and was a call to come out from complacent Christianity and into a real relationship with Christ and the world around you. If Christian radio had any balls in the early 80’s the title track would have been a huge hit and a Dove Award winner.
“Beggar” has the feel of early Mark Heard (Appalachian Melody era) which makes sense given the James Taylor comparison. Fischer likens himself to every other person out there, simply a beggar that has discovered where to find the eternal food.
Probably the most powerful song is “Nobody Wants to Die.” Supposedly taken from a line spoken by Peter Tosh, the chorus declares “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” The song has been covered countless times and has inspired several other similar themed songs.
There are really no weak songs here and several really perfectly executed acoustic, soft rock tunes. It would be a shame if Fischer is only remembered for his wonderful writing, as his music has been an integral and powerful part of CCM since before it ever existed.