Stealth songs

On my iTunes I have a playlist called “stealth Christian.” They’re songs that I find resonate in a Christian way even though I’m pretty sure they weren’t intended that way.

Offhand, I find Dan Fogelberg’s “Leader Of The Band” to be profoundly Christian, and up until the end that mirage holds pretty well. Jesus was “a cabinet maker’s son” and “his heart was known to none.” He did give to me a gift I know I never can repay, and I try to make that song about him when it comes on the radio.

Another one is, so help me, “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence. I cannot hear that song without hearing a human soul returning to God and asking for forgiveness. “Breathe into me and make me real,” she sings. In the background, the male voice sings, “There’s nothing inside.” To me it truly sounds like the torment a soul goes through when it wants to leave behind this world and cling to the eternal and the good. And naturally, while that’s going on, the soul expresses itself as it is rather than as it hopes to become because that’s all it can do. 

Recently, I’ve been hearing Lifehouse’s song Broken which reminds me a bit of my story “Damage” as well as some other situations from my own life. I decided to pick it up at iTunes only to find there are two versions. On the radio version, someone commented that it had been generified and turned into something you could hear at any high school dance. The album version claimed the reviewer, was much more emotional. (The link will take you to Amazon where you can hear a 30 second clip.)

One trip to the library later, I popped the CD into my player and was blown away by the album version. It’s definitely starker, and you can hear the near-despair so much better without all the junk thrown on top of the vocals in the radio version. That’s the version I purchased.

But who is he singing to? Who is the “you” in the song? And I’m deciding now it’s got to be God he’s singing to.

“I’m hanging on / another day / just to see / what you’ll throw my way. / And I’m holding on / to what you say. / You said that I would / be okay.”

When he says “In your name, I find meaning,” I can’t imagine a non-divine antecedent of that pronoun. And yet if it’s there, it’s totally hidden. 

I think it will go on my Stealth Christian play list. Like the others, I’m pretty sure that’s unintended. But not totally sure, and I’m wondering what others think.


  1. Jason Block

    A crossover pop hit that could be considered “Stealth” that I like is “Place In The World” by Michael W. Smith. I know that he is a Christian Artist, but I like the song.

    And Evanescence is a band I love…and that song is kick butt.

  2. philangelus

    I don’t really consider Michael W Smith “stealth” because he’s pretty much front-and-center a Christian artist.

    I have the Evanescence album but all the songs began to sound the same to me after a while. And while it’s a good song, I don’t really like the “sound” so much that I need to hear it 10 times running, you know? I had the same problem with the Lifehouse album. There are three songs I like and the rest turned into noise for me. 🙁

  3. Jen

    Evanescence was briefly in the Christian rock scene for a while, although there was a falling out of sorts:

    The fan base that found them there (at least my friends who did) think they “sold out” and abandoned the Christian music segment, but given the quotes in the article, it sounds like different band members had their own, conflicting ideas.

  4. Wallydraigle

    I found you via EHell a while ago, but I tend to lurk.

    I’ve found that, in general, the best Christian music is stealth. My absolute most favorite music is unabashedly Christian, but the artists who can weave a message into their music without banging you over the head with it are few and far between. I was going to suggest more good stealth Christian music here, but I now find it’s all escaped my head.

  5. philangelus

    Jen, I had no idea! Thank you. 🙂

    Wallydraigle, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I agree with you that any artwork that can lead toward spiritual truth without resorting to overt preaching is good stuff. I’d like to be able to do that in my writing.

    For two other titles, “Everything I do, I do it for you” by Bryan Adams is a powerful one for me (all but one line fits) and “Bridge over troubled water.”

  6. Wallydraigle

    I think part of it is that the really beautiful and/or true things point to God, whether it’s intentional or not.

    And “Bridge over Troubled Water” is one of my most favorite songs. I’m not crazy about Bryan Adams, but I do love that one song.

    Now you’ve got me thinking about a lot of songs I’ve heard over and over without really thinking about them. This is a nice exercise, now that my days are mostly filled with placating and entertaining an infant.

    1. philangelus

      Oh, you’ll be amazed at the overthinking one gets done when placating and entertaining an infant, trust me. If you ever wonder, search on this weblog for “overthinking” and you’ll see what happens… 😉

  7. Joanne

    interesting. Fogelberg did become a Christian toward the end of his life, maybe the seeds were there in these earlier songs.

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