From the Record Bin: Your Gonna Love Your New Life

Randall Stephens

So here's a find a got from an Emporia, Kansas, thrift shop back in 1995. I've held on to this record, called John 15:13, by the Christian Sons, for ages now. It's perfect pitch early 1970s, evangelical awesomeness. (If I remember right, the Christian Sons were an Assemblies of God, soft rock group from Colorado that didn't want to push it into full-throttle Jesus People freakiness.)

Back when I picked the album up and dusted it off it further confirmed what I thought about a certain strain of evangelical pop music from the 70s and 80s. It seems that many evangelicals were seriously into the Carpenters, John Denver, Bread, Captain and Tennille, and a few other icons of the shag carpet and pleather years. The Nazarene church I attended in Olathe, Kansas, featured gospel quartets and more college-friendly stuff, what passed as "young people's music," I guess. The Christians Sons fit into the latter category. They were really small time when compared to contemporary Christian soft rock icons like Honeytree, 2nd Chapter of Acts, or the Archers. But still, they had their charms.

Hear song here.

The song, "Your Gonna Love Your New Life," written by one Phil Johnson, is a greeting to a new convert. "Let me be the first to shake your hand," croon the Christian Sons, "and tell you that this life is really grand." Stilted, yes. Weird, you betcha. Fascinating, without a doubt.

People will hear a song like this today as nothing more than Christian kitsch. Like something piled on to that mountain of Jesus junk that Colleen McDannell scaled in her amazing Material Christianity. But I have to remind myself that music like this really did speak to believers of a certain frame of mind in a certain era. It was exciting, new, and cheery. It thrilled the youngsters in churches who were stoked to see and hear drums in church. Born-again Christians could have fun, and, sorta, rock out, too.


DEG said…

You have to talk with Darren Dochuk about the importance of Pat Boone in evangelical America during the 1960s and 1970s. He convinced me that he's probably one of the most important evangelical subcultural leaders of the past 40 years. I know, I know - but still, that guy was everywhere. Certainly see overtones of him in these fellas, I suppose.
Randall said…
Deg: That's right. He's all over the place in Christian magazines in the 1970s. Cliff Richard, his doppelganger across the pond, couldn't hold a candle to him. (Thought I think Richard had more artistic cred at one point.)

Add to all that the fact that he was a pal of Reagans. . .
I Am Daniel said…
Wow Randall. I'm the (formerly) young man on the right on that album cover. I was 19 at the time and my brothers were 16 and 15 (as evidenced by the very immature voices on that track). We were out of Paonia, Colorado and traveled full time for 7 years, making 3 albums. I have no nostalgia for that era or the music we sang. No regrets, but have definitely moved beyond. I would have to say that I'm a Christian today in spite of, rather than due to, being raised in a pastor's home and being involved in Christian Music. Jesus is good. That music? Not so much. . .
HUGE will not likely remember me...i met you and your brothers and your parents at a hotel swimming pool in colorado. at the time you needed a pianist (in may-ish of 1977) when i was on a cross-country trip with my own parents. we visited and sang and hiked out behind the hotel and talked and, although i did not sign on to be considered or auditioned for the role of pianist, i thought about it a million times after we left that hotel (as any 18 year old would) and continued on our trip. i STILL have your album, all these years later. and fond memories of the brief time your family showed warm hospitality to mine. :)

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