In college, Amanda and I talked about dc talk a lot. I have no idea what started it but I began calling her A-max and we’d randomly write old school lyrics on each other’s marker boards. (“I love rap music, I always have and always will. There ain’t no other kind of music in the world that makes me feel quite as chill.”) I’m not sure obsessed is the right word. We amused each other. Our love for a common band and a genre of music made us friends.
About a month ago I stumbled onto tobyMac’s tour schedule. I knew he’d be at Winter Jam in Des Moines but found myself more intrigued by his stop in Sioux City. The Sioux City Orpheum show was hyped as an unplugged night of songs and stories. I’m drawn to unplugged, acoustic stuff now that I’ve hit the old age of “older than 30.” Sounded cool. Spoiler alert: it was cool.
The youth group kids I work with enjoy Jamie Grace (the opener) and some of them have heard of tobyMac but I was selfish and didn’t want to take a whole youth group to a show. Toby was kind of sacred. So I facebooked Amanda, who I hadn’t spoken to since college 10ish years ago. She was able to get us tickets through a part time job at a Christian bookstore and we headed to the show.
Dang, yo. Toby’s still got it. I hadn’t seen him live since shortly after dc talk’s Supernatural cd hit shelves. Pre-itunes days! Listening to him share stories and music and preaching was the most comfortable, nostalgia, trippy thing. Amanda and I were the mature adult equivalent of giddy. He was sincere, clever and had stage presence that I haven’t seen recently in any Christian band or performer other than the David Crowder Band. Toby had the familiar balance of sing a song, share a God story, another song, more God story.
So I got nostalgic. Turns out I miss the days when a teenager’s knowledge of CCM was a litmus test for their faith. In my teenage world, if you were in love with Jesus, obviously you listened to dc talk, jars of clay, newsboys and audio adrenaline. The third day album with the bus was required listening. If you were in love with Jesus and ridiculously cool you probably could list the bands on Tooth & Nail, 5 Minute Walk and Squint. Maybe you read CCM, 7 Ball and/or HM magazines. The Christian sub culture that grew me (and Amanda) had specific bands that catered to a specific way of living out your faith. I just don’t see that anymore– and I’m not assigning judgement to that, at least not yet.
I see that there’s still a Christian music industry. Dove awards still make me shake my head. I’m sure Nashville still breeds CCM stars right alongside their country scene but has anyone hit the level of cool that dc talk had when they released the Jesus Freak cd? Is there a cd as fun from beginning to end as Free At Last?
I’m pretty sure I need a dc talk reunion and soon. I didn’t realize the last time I saw them was the last time I’d see them together as a group. Kevin singing with Michael on a Newsboys song (New newsboys, not Shine newsboys) just cements this for me. Some of the best preachers I ever heard in high school were rock stars. From dc talk I learned what might happen if I stumbled and that light was what I wanted and to read the red letters. I think we need a dc talk reunion. Could we collectively make this happen? And could it be unplugged and a night of stories? Who do we have to talk to in order to make this happen?