Mr. Buechner's Dream

Article excerpt

Daniel Amos, Mr. Buechner's Dream (Galaxy 21, 2001), available at www.danielamos.com.

In the contemporary Christian music subculture, assuming Daniel Amos is a person is a mistake akin to thinking Alice Cooper is a woman or Jethro Tull a solo artist. Daniel Amos is a band--by all accounts, one of the best Christian rock bands of all time--and its somewhat dopey name is a simple hybrid of two Old Testament prophets whose monikers the group thought "sounded cool" when placed together.

Daniel Amos was formed in the heat of the Jesus movement in 1971 at the Calvary Chapel revival in southern California. Thirty years and 16 albums later, the band released its masterpiece, Mr. Buechner's Dream. Musically, this record is for anyone who likes the Beatles, the Eagles or the Beach Boys, updated appropriately for today's "alternative rock" crowd. Theologically, it is a tribute to the visions of its titular hero, writer Frederick Buechner.

Mr. Buechner's Dream spreads 33 songs over two discs, offering a panoply of tunes that one reviewer described as "unique, full of life, and slobbered over with creativity." A fair number are pretty, lush and melodic--but Daniel Amos is famous for deconstructing false securities. Three songs into the project, sharp electric lines pierce the eardrums with a cruelty suggested by this opening lyric: "She had one foot on the ground and one foot in the air/ It seemed the world held her cold hand while the angels brushed her air." This portrait of one waiting (and wanting) to die introduces one of the album's persistent themes: the difficulty of maintaining faith in a world that is not the way it ought to be. …