The Lawnmower Sessions

It’s that time of year again, the sun is shining, (sometimes) the birds are back from wherever they go when Wisconsin’s winter sets in and the grass is finally high enough to mow. One of my favorite things to do while mowing the lawn is to put my headphones on and play some of my favorite music. Now when I do this, I don’t shuffle, I don’t skip, I pick an artist I haven’t listened to in awhile and play the entire project beginning to end, taking in each song for good and sometimes for bad but it’s always fun.

Having spent several years in the Christian Music Industry, I have several memories linked to the songs or artists I choose but mostly these Lawnmower Sessions just bring back some of the enjoyment from music I seemed to have lost along the way.

I hope to share each of my Lawnmower Sessions with you in an effort to inspire, or spark a memory, or have you pick up a new (old) artist for the very first time. So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you. The Lawnmower Sessions…

Go West Young Man – Michael W. Smith: Released 1990 Reunion Records. Lawnmower Sessions first cut: 05/12/2020

I’ve been on a Michael W Smith kick for a while and have been listening to A Million Lights like a million times so I decided to dust off an oldie but a goodie. Go West Young Man. I haven’t heard many of these songs a long time. Admittedly, a couple of them are in my iTunes lineup but for the most part I’d forgotten how good this album was and still is. Except for one and we will get to that soon.

Gassed up, music loaded, let’s Mow…

Go West Young Man was released in 1990, and I was working part time at a local radio station. The first single, also the name of the release had a long introduction and I remember being able to give the time and weather before the first words. “I’m blazing a trail that leads to vice…” the 90’s were off to a good start. This album was also Michael’s first attempt at crossover success. Which is kind of ironic since a Christian artist crossing over to secular music usually meant not bringing the cross over, if you know what I mean. However, there was a top 10 single that came from the effort. Place in this World, a soaring pop ballad that could have easily been a Peter Cetera song, or placed nicely somewhere in a Nora Ephron movie.

While mowing today, I remembered just how good this release was. I once drove David Meece, from Milwaukee to Chicago just as this came out and we listened to it together, he loved it and wished he could write music like that. A great complement to Michael because David has written several songs that have gone on to be classics and had just released one of his biggest sellers as well. Learning to Trust. ( that may be a Lawnmower Session listen soon)

At the time my favorite song was “For You” a bouncy Beatles type song that spoke of friendship without being mushy, and. Where else can you hear a Pee Wee Herman laugh track in a Christian song? My least favorite song back then held up well. It’s still my least favorite but I listened all the way through just to give it a chance. “Cross My Heart.” Ugh. I know it was on there for maybe a shot at another radio single but it just sounds so schmaltzy, and coming from a guy that likes Barry Manilow, that’s saying something!

As I listened I thought about how time and circumstances change how we relate to things. Back then “Emily” was just a nice song about a young girl going through or entering her teenage years. Now, Emily is my daughter about to enter her teenage years and I want her to know that her dad believes in her and that she’s an angel waiting for wings. I must admit, it hit me in the feels as they say.

Michael was a bit ahead of his time with the release of Angus Dei. Back in 1990 Praise and Worship songs were really only heard on, well, only Praise and Worship albums. I liked hearing it as originally was, though I do like his many current versions of it.

The album closes out with what you think is an instrumental piece similar to earlier releases but instead you get a quick reminder that getting rich and losing your soul is not a good thing. And with that the final words we hear are “To be continued…..”

Which is the perfect way to end this first edition of the Lawnmower Sessions. I hope you enjoyed reminiscing and if you’re able, dust off Go West Young Man and give it a listen. To be continued…

Published on May 12, 2020 at 7:56 pm  Comments Off on The Lawnmower Sessions