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Let’s rewind 20 years. It was 1996. Bill Clinton was president. Seinfeld was still on prime time television. Grunge was still a thing. John James was the lead singer of the Newsboys, Peter Furler played drums and still had hair, and Michael Tait was singing in a little band called dc Talk.

Also in 1996, the Newsboys dropped the album Take Me To Your Leader (buy). Everyone who heard it agreed that it was out of this world (pun intended). But what made Take Me To Your Leader so special, and what continues to set it apart, is the value and meaning that it holds on more levels than you might have realized. That’s how it was for me.

I remember being in my early teens and walking into my local Christian bookstore and seeing the headphones free at the listening kiosk where there was a display for “The Newsboys’ new album Take Me To Your Leader!” I walked up and began listening to it, and as the first notes of “God Is Not A Secret” started playing, I started laughing.

I was laughing because it wasn’t what I expected. It was better. I was laughing because there was a spaceship on the cover. (I mean, who does that?) I was laughing because the lyrics were funny. The first track alone talked about being “dipped in bubonic plague” and, on later cuts, there were songs that were about running off to join the circus, Cap’N Crunch, belly dancers, evergreen incense, habenero sauce, and, yes, the ever-controversial “elephant dung” lyric. Yet, none of this really took me, or any of us contemporary Christian music fans, by surprise because that’s exactly what we loved and still love about the Newsboys. They were funny, weird, and creative. And there was nothing else like them anywhere.

As I dove further into the album, I began to notice several things. First of all, songs such as “Breakfast,” “Cup O’ Tea” and the title track were as infectious as the aforementioned bubonic plague. I would walk around all day singing those songs without even realizing it. Second, when you watched the video for “Take Me To Your Leader” or saw them in concert on the Take Me To Your Leader Tour, it was obvious the guys in the band were having fun. They dressed up in blue space suits, decorated the stage for their tour to look like the planet Mars, entered the stage riding space ships while the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey (buy) played over the speakers.

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2 Responses

  1. Bethany Kimes

    Love it! Brings back so many memories for me as well. Newsboys and dc Talk were the first two bands I got into as a young teen and I remember listening to Take Me To Your Leader for hours on my Sony Walkman. 🙂 I still go back and listen to them (on Spotify now, of course) and am reminded of an exciting time in both my life and in Christian music. Thanks for the great post and bringing some nostalgia into my morning!

  2. Greg Koelln

    I must point out that a huge part of the album was the “unseen” member of Newsboys–genius producer and songwriter Steve Taylor, who was responsible for most of the lyrics on this and other Newsboys albums. Back in 2003, I went to Creation Festival East and saw Steve Taylor perform, as it was a special anniversary year. Newsboys followed, and as I was in line waiting for an autograph from Mr. Taylor, I heard him say as the Newsboys were playing, “I love this song!” I had to smile knowing that he co-wrote the song and that was lost on most people waiting in line.

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