Making the "Dream" A Reality
7 Ball Magazine
by Greg Adams
Every band prays for longevity; however, few persevere long enough to earn "legendary" status. But Terry Scott Taylor of Daniel Amos, one of the most important bands in Christian music, admits that being "well established" can sometimes invite unwarranted pigeonholing. "I'm a realist. I know there are a lot of CDs and groups and artists to choose from. I think there are a lot of people who hear 'Daniel Amos' and put us in a certain slot. And maybe they're not really anxious to really check us out or fork out their money to find out what it's all about. But we hope word of mouth will get them to at least listen and give it a chance," Taylor says. DA has just released an ambitious new double album, Mr. Buechner's Dream
(Galaxy 21 Music), and both fans' and critics' mouths are filled with honey-sweet praise for this 33-song collection. But why would a bunch of alternative Christian rock veterans (Terry Scott Taylor, Tim Chandler, Greg Flesch and Ed McTaggart) come together after a seven-years hiatus to dive into something as difficult as a double album?
"Once in a while I drop in on the DA website and go to the board and find some of the nicest words of encouragement, which really fuels the whole band's desire to keep this thing going as long as God wills, and as long as there are those wonderful people out there who are ready for our next musical expression," Taylor says.
Once the band decided to go for a new album, the creative Spirit flowed... actually overflowed, according to Taylor. "I knew we had a lot of material and it was going to really hard for us to say, 'Well, we'll put that song off until next time.' We just thought we'd record as much as we could and then make those decisions. I think about half way through, almost as a joke, we started tossing around the absurd idea of doing this double record. I knew once we made that decision, it meant a lot of work. So it became a challenge, one that we relished, seeing if we could actually do something as absurd as 33 songs."
As Taylor, the lead vocalist and lyricists for DA, began writing new songs, he first focused on Biblical figures, which resulted in scripture-based songs like "Joel," "A Little Grace (A Song of Job)," and "Pregnant Pause (A Song for Abraham and Sarah)." "Originally my thought was that we might create an album that would be based on Bible stories," Taylor recalls. "That was what I had initially envisioned, so I started writing in that direction. On the record itself, those songs that deal with or nod toward certain Bible figures probably are the earliest ones written. As we got into working on the album in rehearsals, I abandoned that idea, because there was such a wealth of stuff. I felt I should open up and give it a broader landscape by calling it Mr. Buechner's Dream
and putting it in this realm of a man having a dream."
While the name "Mr. Buechner" (pronounced Beekner) sounds suspiciously fictitious, the title is an ode to one of Taylor's guiding lights, Frederick Buechner, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated author and Presbyterian minister. Taylor says he first felt a strong connection to Buechner when he read his book of essays, A Room Called Remember. "That particular essay really struck home with me. Buechner has been instrumental as a mentor to me, and I consider him a pastor, in a sense, in my life." With a central vision and plenty of inspiration, DA entered the studio to begin recording their brand new songs.
"It's really important to have a confidence level in the guys you're working with, and my confidence level is always highest with Daniel Amos," Taylor comments. "Because of the amount of material, there were things that we didn't get a chance to go over in rehearsal. And those are sort of the fun things. In the studio I would say, 'Here's a song I didn't play in rehearsal, but let's see what we can do with it.' I'd throw it out there, and we'd see if it would stick to the wall, and it usually did."
The positive reaction to Mr. Buechner's Dream from die-hard and new DA fans has been a welcome comfort to Taylor. "I really am thankful that Daniel Amos can still function, because we have those loyalists out there who really regard Daniel Amos and stuff I do as essential in their lives," he says. "That's very humbling to me, and very mysterious. They seem to derive comfort or challenge or direction, as God sees fit, to transform our little offerings into something that is meaningful to people.
Greg Adams is an independent writer for VoxCorp/7Ball Magazine among others.