Posted by: Billy Marsh | August 3, 2008

A Room Full of Stories . . . and Some of My Own Too

A Room Full of Stories ~ Wes King

A Room Full of Stories ~ Wes King

In the past, I posted fairly regularly on some of my favorite musicians and albums. For some reason I have drifted away from those types of posts, so I am going to try and recover that dynamic of “Joy in the Journey“.

Today, I want to share with you another album by guitar-great and recent cancer-survivor, Wes King. His record A Room Full of Stories is probably my favorite of his works, and by far, is the best representation-at least in my opinion-of his excellent capabilities as both a songwriter and a guitar player. Back in high school, I joined somewhere between two or three of those music clubs where you could get like 15 CDs for the price of 1 so long as you bought 3 or more at regular price in so many years. However, it wasn’t until sometime after I began high school that I actually had my own CD player. So for a lot of those deals, I received nothing but cassette tapes. On one of those memberships, I chose at random to get a Wes King album as one of my free selections. It was what was probably his most radio-friendly project called Common Creed. Songs like “Life is Precious” and “The Love of Christ” belong to that release.

I was pleased with his music, but never could get used to his voice for some reason, so I shelved the CD, and instead, wore out my copies of Steven Curtis Chapman’s Signs of Life and Delirious’ King of Fools. It was some time later, I’m not sure when, that the Marsh family made a trip to Columbia, SC–about 30 minutes from where I grew up–to go out to eat, and on the way home, we stopped at the Christian bookstore on that exit. I believe it was named “Joshua Christian Bookstore”? Anyways, while we were browsing, posters for King’s new album, A Room Full of Stories, caught my attention, and against my gut, I decided to spend what little money I had, probably from mowing some yards, and buy his new record. It was purely in God’s providence because I was never really sold on my first copy of King’s record, and to be honest, it wasn’t long after buying my second one that I shelved it along with the first. I think was too spoiled on Rock & Roll at that time to listen to anything slower and more meditative like what this album proved to be.

Years later, once I matured a little more and began listening to music with more depth and theological content like Fernando Ortega and Michael Card, I invetiably dusted off my old copies of Wes King. Come to find out, King was Reformed in his theology and also just so happened to be big buddies with the likes of Card and even Phil Keaggy. Suddenly I found myself right in the middle of a huge circle of Christian artists who were incredible in every aspect of making music, and fortunately, were close friends too, which meant that I could expect them to play on each other’s records. Listening to all of these guys made me feel like I was part of the group. I cannot even begin to explain what a huge role discovering their music at that time in my life played in my spiritual development that has now become a definite mile-marker in my walk with the Lord.

I commend King’s A Room Full of Stories to you for a number of reasons. One is that, in my opinion, this record is the best place to begin if you’re unfamiliar with King, which a lot of people still are, to see him at his best with respect to all of the things he’s capable of doing as an artist. Second, there are some really good songs on here. First, the song “Simplify“, which I think was a radio single at some point, is an ode to Bilbo Baggins and Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Listen to the words and you will see it come out clear as a bell, not to mention that King spills the beans in his liner notes (another reason why downloading music still is unfulfilling to me). The second song on the set list is called “Univserse Next Door“. This is probably the song where King demonstrates best what he is capable of doing on the acoustic guitar. The opening riff is awesome and sets the difficulty for learning to play his licks for this song at level 10 immediately. Though there’s no indicator in the liner notes, I’m convinced that this song and its theme was taken from James Sire’s classic texbook, The Universe Next Door.

My favorite by far and the one that ministered to me dearly is “Magnificent Defeat“. This song is as beautiful as it is moving. I was always intrigued by the whole idea of a “maginficent defeat” per se, and wondered from where King got the concept. Then, one day while browsing through the philosophy section at Half Price Books I stumbled over a little book with the same name. The author was Frederick Buechner, of whom I was unfamiliar with at the time. I flipped through the pages and found out that the tattered booklet was a collection of sermons and essays from Buechner with the first chapter being “The Magnificent Defeat“. After skimming it over, I realized that I had just found King’s source for his song. I bought it, and when I got home, I scanned King’s liner notes again, and sure enough, in his “Thank You” section, there was a shout-out to Buechner and to this book. I’ve not read anymore of Buechner’s work since then. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as touched by his work as other artists seem to be. I, of course, loved the first chapter, but the rest of the book just didn’t do much for me. However, that’s not to say that I won’t give him another chance some day.

A Room Full of Stories offers a lot in terms of song styles (“Nineveh“, “Good News“) and lyrical adventures (“Thought You’d Be Here“, “Remember“, and “Cover to Cover“).  Don’t miss out on this really solid record. I’m sure you can find copies of it, probably brand new, pretty cheap by now. It came out ten years ago in 1998. Wow, I can’t believe 1998 was ten years ago! King is a guy who get’s passed by a lot due to the fact that he never really owned the radio waves, but I hope I can help in not letting that happen for those of you who read this blog.

I have added some songs from the album in my Box.net media player in the sidebar. Listen to the music!

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Wow! I remember this album and will have to dig around and find it somewhere in my library. For whatever reason I kind of got burned out on CCM several years ago and went into oldies, jazz and classical, but reading your review of King’s album brought back some wonderful memories. That was/is a great album and I do remember discovering he was Reformed about that time.
    Thanks Billy!
    Bryan

  2. I like Wes. He’s a good guitarist. He has thoughtful lyrics as well. Many of his songs got heavy play on our “Contemporary Christian Music” station when I was growing up.

  3. I think it’s interesting that guys like Wes and Michael Card and others from that circle of artists, though at one time were consistently played on the air-waves, as the tides changed in the industry and in mainstream CCM, they faded out of the limelight, and even now, rarely will you find one of their songs on the radio, which is often due to the fact that they have opted out for a more independent track for getting their music out there so that they are still able to make the music they want. That’s why I love guys like Wes because they have stayed true to the music, which thankfully, is drenched in good theology and the Scriptures.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: