It is now over 20 years since Jars of Clay's first self-titled album. Jars of Clay are one of my favourite bands.. Dan Haseltine has a unique voice, and a gift for songwriting. They are also a band that has been growing and evolving. Though lots of people loved their first album, they haven't tried to replicate it, they've moved & grown. Thought I'd write about my favourite 10 Jars of Clay songs. If you haven't heard them, have a listen.
(1) World's Apart (Jars of Clay)
Not only my favourite Jars of Clay song, but close to my favourite song. The words & music work perfectly together. The phrase "All said and done I stand alone, Amongst remains of a life I should not own, It takes all I am to believe, In the mercy that covers me", resonates to the core of my soul. The way the song builds both lyrically and musically is amazing.
(2) Shelter (Shelter)
This song says everything you need to know about what it means to be in a community -"And the tears aren't ours alone / Let them fall into the hands that hold us". We live in the Shelter of each other. The Christian is not called to running solo but called into community.
(3) Faith Enough (Who We Are Instead)
Perhaps inspired by the Ernest Hemingway story Farewell to Arms. The quote goes “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” A reminder, that while our world (and our lives) are broken, we often become stronger through these experiences.
(3) Light Gives Heat (Good Monsters)
Love the children's voices at the beginning, and its another song with a powerful message highlighting that love is linked with action, like light & heat. One of my favourite lines - 'Heroes from the west
We don't know you, we know best'. Reminiscent of the line from Miss Saigon - 'I'm an Westerner, [sic], how could I fail to do good'. The West often looks at the world and jumps in to solve problems it doesn't understand.
(4) Headphones (The Long Fall Back to Earth)
Perhaps one of the sadder songs Jars of Clay has written, touching on our disconnection with the world (and each other). Features another of my favourite singers - Katie Herzig. Love the line - 'We watch television...but the sound is something else, Just a song played against the drama, so the hurt is never felt'. We'll just leave the world and disappear into our 'sugar-coated' music.
(5) Boys (Lesson One) (The Long Fall Back to Earth)
Since I have become a father, this song has taken on so much more to me. The song is advice from a father to his son. Lesson One - being do not hide, face the consequences. The section which hits me is 'And there will be liars, And thieves who take from you, Not to undermine the consequence, But you are not what you do, And when you need it most, I have a hundred reasons why I love you'.
(6) Oh My God (Good Monsters)
Oh My God is one of Haseltine's best lyrics. This song is about how we call out to God, and how God is not afraid of questions, in fact He wants us to call on Him. This is what Job does and what the Psalmist does - crying out to God from where they are.
(7) Needful Hands (Furthermore)
One of my favourites from their album Furthermore, featuring songs recorded live or acoustically in the studio. It is another song which recognises our position before God.
(8) The Edge of Water (The Eleventh Hour)
Love the lyrics to this - its a song about longing. Longing for restoration, longing for everything to make sense, longing to understand God. The song highlights the authenticity of Haseltine's lyrics. He asks his questions and reflects his prayers and doubts.
(9) Frail (Much Afraid)
Authentic is the word to use about Jars of Clay. Frail is another beautifully authentic song. I love the acoustic version found on Furthermore too. The acoustic recording underlines the lyric.
(10) Love in the Hard Times (Inland)
Love in Hard Times expresses beautifully the tension within relationships. Powerful and human lyric. The album is one of Jar's best lyrically.