Joining Arnold with the Time Displacement Sphere to take us back to the early 90's for this week's featured group... Caedmon's Call.
Caedmon's Call was a contemporary Christian band which fused traditional folk with world music and alternative rock. Caedmon's Call was a Houston, Texas-based band at Texas Christian University in the summer of 1992. After spending some time playing locally, Caedmon's Call began touring college campuses across the South, steadily building up a dedicated following of young Gen-X singles. The band's unusual name was inspired by Cædmon, an Anglo-Saxon cow-herder and monk who lived during the 7th century. Legend has it that Caedmon was afraid to sing in public due to a lack of musical talent, and shied away from occasions where he had to sing. After leaving a feast one night because he was too embarrassed to sing, he lay down in the pasture with the cattle to sleep. An angel appeared to him in a dream, calling him to sing. After refusing, he eventually decided to sing and when he did, he sang beautiful verses that had never been heard before. His songs were in the local vernacular language at a time when all other Christian songs were in Latin. Founding band members decided on the name "Caedmon's Call" after all three heard this story during the same week and thought it was fitting.
Caedmon's Call self-released their first album in June of 1994. In August of 1995, they released their second record. Both independently released albums sold over 10,000 copies apiece, and were distributed in Canada and the U.K. as well as America. The two albums, plus their live shows, led Musician magazine to call Caedmon's Call one of the best unsigned bands in America.
After being signed by a major label, they released their first mainstream, self-titled release Caedmon's Call in 1997. Over the years, Caedmon's Call have enveloped and adapted many different musical stylings, the most obvious being their folk and alternative rock roots. On Caedmon's Call the band utilized stylings that ranged from straight-up folk-rock ("Lead of Love", "Coming Home"), rock ("Not the Land"), folk ("This World", "Bus Driver"), and simple acoustic guitar ballads ("Center Aisle"). Perhaps one of my favorite songs comes from this album, "Hope To Carry On" (written by Rich Mullens):
Their second album, 40 Acres, released in 1999, has a more settled folk-rock sound. Songs such as the Derek Webb-penned "Thankful", for instance, took advantage of those folk-rock stylings, relying heavily on percussion.
In 2000, Long Line of Leavers, their third wide-release album, became something of a milestone for the band, including a wider range of instrumentation and stylings. "The Only One" featured a brass accompaniment, something Caedmon's Call had never experimented with before, whereas "The Ballad of San Francisco" was debatably the most folkish song ever included on a Caedmon's Call album. "Prove Me Wrong" was a simple guitar-driven pop song, while "What You Want" stands in the tradition of "Not the Land" as upbeat rock-and-roll.
Caedmon's Call is still together and has continued to produce albums through the years. Caedmon’s Call has sold millions of units of its 16 records to date. Their folksy vibe, clean harmonies and creative percussion caused a resurgence of acoustic music in the Christian pop scene and earned the band a large and loyal fan following, known as The Guild. Caedmon’s also helped launch or boosted the careers of artists like Bebo Norman, Jill Phillips, Waterdeep, and Andrew Peterson.
Their last album on 2010 was a studio release, Raising Up the Dead. Caedmon’s Call had matured into one of the most distinct bands in Christian music. Raising up the Dead highlights the personality of each band member and comes together to form an album that defies cookie-cutter conformity and instead explores the diverse creativity of some of the industry’s most talented musicians, vocalists and songwriters. Caedmon’s Call is all grown up, but their ability to blend the deep themes of faith and life into new and groundbreaking music is as fresh as ever.