Desert Island Albums – Album 10


This is it. For those of you that opened even one of these posts and read it, thank you. To a large degree this was an exercise to see if I could write 10 blog posts in 10 days. Honestly, I’ve run out of steam, and I’m sure many of you are tired of the emails. Again, thank you. For this last post, I finally named this list appropriately; this is my desert island list, not necessarily the top 10.

Album 10: Sandra McCracken, God’s Highway

I know what many of you are thinking. Christian music? That’s right. As a follower of Christ, I know there are going to be times on the island when I want to listen to music that makes me remember that I didn’t wind up there by accident. And I’m going to need hope. Honestly, I can count on one hand (a couple of fingers, really) the number of Christian artists that I like, let alone even know. For me, Christian music, if that’s how we must categorize it, has to be music first and should stand on its own in that regard. If I sense emotional manipulation or lyrical contrivance, I get uncomfortable and dismiss it; I’d rather listen to secular art than spiritual fodder. Sandra McCracken is a talented singer-songwriter who has clearly seen some difficult times but still has joy. She understands her need for Christ, and she sings out of that need. Her songs are beautiful. They’re deep but uplifting.

I only recently became a Sandra McCracken fan. I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you’re familiar with my cancer journey. Life is never easy once you get past 30, so we all get it. I came to church one Sunday last year, and my sweet friend, Katy, saw me walk in the door. She shuffled up to me, gave me one of her tall hugs, and told me she was glad that I had made it, as if that was less than certain (she had verified during the week that I was in town). Katy seemed nervous. She was going to sing, and the musicians would play, a song by Sandra McCracken that “reminds me of you,” as Katy put it. Her husband, David, also my close friend, was on cello. Jake played guitar and sang backup. But Katy sang the title track, “God’s Highway.” Hearing her sing those words and connect them to me was an extraordinarily personal experience. Truly spiritual.

After that, God’s Highway has been played so often that my 13-year old son knows the words to most of the songs and sometimes begs for mercy from them. Sadly, though, I never purchased the album, physical or digital. I have simply streamed it on Amazon or Spotify. Having gone through this endeavor, I see now how important the album is, the physicality of it. Can you take an MP3 to a desert island? Well, maybe that would be easier, but it isn’t nearly as romantic. Looking back at the albums that I selected over the course of my adult life that supposedly helped tell my story, I have 7 from 1986-1999 and only 3 in the near 20 years since. This certainly says something about my musical tastes, but I think it also says something about the media. I believe we’ve lost something in the age of digital-only music.

I’ve been holding on to some old musical equipment–a record player and receiver. With the help of a friend, I hope to build a custom shelving unit that fits into our living room. I’ve been collecting CDs since I was 13 years old, but I plan to follow the trend back to analog by collecting vinyl. And since I hadn’t yet purchased God’s Highway, and since my rule with my top 10 was that I had to own the album, I bought the record (that’s it in the featured image). I look forward to the warmth of the sound, her voice, and the message. I’m sure it will be more rewarding to shakily drop a needle on vinyl than absently inserting compact discs, though I’ll have to get used to the flipping. Maybe I’ll get my son to do that for me.

My favorite song (at the moment at least) is “Love Will Bring You Home,” but I thought it appropriate to include lines from “God’s Highway.”

My feet are strong, my eyes are clear
I cannot see the way from here
But on we go, He knows the way
And in His arms, He keeps me safe.

Fear not, keep on, watch and pray
Walk in the light of God’s highway

The shadows flee, The valley is deep
But evil cannot conquer me
Your rod and staff, They protect me
You give me rest, You give me peace

Fear not, keep on, watch and pray
Walk in the light of God’s highway


2 Comments Add yours

  1. billyfindlay says:

    I really enjoyed this. Wondering what the next was to be was a neat ten days. I love your writing. Subtle humor within some posts. I’ve bookmarked these albums. My first play will be some of Isbell. I have a feeling I’ll need more Isbell. Thanks for doing this. Can’t help but to imagine Ozzy or Metallica would have made the list if you’d just stay one extra day.


  2. Ashlie Johnson says:

    I love this album too…..another great one from her is Psalms. These 2 have been on repeat often over the past few years. Love you!


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