The Call were one of my very favourite bands and so when lead singer and bass player Michael Been passed away in August 2010 at the age of 60 it was a sad day indeed.
Although The Call were never megastars, you might remember some of their songs such as The Walls Came Down or Let the Day Begin.
Let the Day Begin is the title track from their 1989 album. The song reached number one on the US Mainstream Rock chart, by far their biggest hit. While none of their other songs reached those heights on the charts, they built a strong catalogue of stunning music.
The Call formed in Santa Cruz in 1980 by vocalist/guitarist Michael Been, Scott Musick, and Tom Ferrier. Been and Musick were originally from Oklahoma. Been was previously a member of Chicago band Aorta, and then, between 1969 and 1971, of Lovecraft, the successor band to the psychedelic rock group H.P. Lovecraft.
Beginning with their self-titled debut in 1982, the Call went on to produce a total of 10 albums by 2000. The eponymous premiere album was recorded in England, and Been later recalled that the band was in an exploratory phase at this point. Been noted in a 1988 interview, “The Call was a compassionate album, but it probably came out as anger.” Peter Gabriel liked the band so much that he asked them to open for him during his 1982 “Shock the Monkey” tour. – Wiki
They never classed themselves as a ‘Christian’ band but their music causes has always caused me to stop and think. It still causes me to re-evaluate my relationship with God and to feel deeply about stuff in a way that most ‘Christian’ music can’t. Here’s a snippet from an article run in Contemporary Christian Music Magazine quite some years ago.
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Though the Call is marginally connected with Christian music, Been’s not given to aligning himself with it. In fact, he says he never even heard of the Cornerstone Festival before The Call’s slot on the fest’s Encore stage in July.
“I’m not even aware of that world, really,” Been explains. “I found the Christian market to be a whole different culture, and I didn’t care for it very much. It hasn’t been very exciting or interesting or innovative, although I love Over the Rhine, Bruce Cockburn and Mark Heard. I just find it sad that we make distinctions with music – to me it’s depressing that there’s even black music and white music.
“I [wish] Christian musicians wrote more about their life experiences instead of trying to be so ‘on the nose’ with spiritual language. It doesn’t give people room to be who they are at the stage they’re at in life. I like to write with the feel of parables, not in strict language. I’m attracted to people who tell me a story, and then I see what it stirs up in my own life. But putting Psalms to music? Taking 30 lines from the Bible for a song? That’s why I like religious books, for instance, rather than books on religion.”
Unfortunately, at least one recent development has further soured Been to Christian music. “Of the 10 major Christian market radio stations, six have refused to play the Best of The Call because of my involvement in The Last Temptation of Christ,” says Been, who played the role of John the Baptist in the film. “I never thought the movie was blasphemous. We were trying to do something important. Of course, if I publicly denounce and regret my involvement in it….
“It just doesn’t feel good, these rules and regulations and laws. There’s a whole lot of language you have to be hip to. I’m always asked, ‘Have you accepted the Lord?’ ‘Are you saved?’ All these codes and passwords. Well, you know, there was a different question asked many years ago in Ireland or Scotland, and it’s more to the point: ‘Do you believe in the blood?’ My answer? ‘Yes. I believe in the blood.’ I’m not quite sure what that other stuff means, but hopefully we won’t go ‘I got it! I got it!’ during our lives because once you say that, you’ve just proven that you haven’t got it.”