What music most inspires you?

November 15, 2006 | 26 comments

[I had to temporarily take down the last post because of frustrating Blogger formatting issues that were about to steal my sanity. I hope to repost it later as I have time to deal with it. On to a less frustrating subject… :)]

I was thinking the other day what a powerful effect music has on me. Some of the moments that I’ve felt closest to God and most certain of his existence have been when I’m listening to music.

I was thinking about this as I was listening to my iPod the other day, and I realized that most of the songs I have on there have to go. I acquired most of them between 2000 and 2004, and they remind me strongly of times past. In particular, when I hear some of the ones I used to listen to when I felt depressed I’m painfully reminded of what it feels like to live life “knowing” that there is no God, that life is ultimately meaningless.

So, I’d like to put a whole bunch of new songs on my iPod, and I ask you, wonderful readers: what artists and/or songs most inspire you? What music make you feel close to God? I want everything from Gregorian chant to classical to rap to country. Whatever. I admit I am not a fan of Christian pop/rock but if you say it’s great I’ll probably check it out.

I’m hoping to get specific song suggestions when possible (rather than just good genres) so that I can just look it up on iTunes and download away.


  1. Anonymous

    I’ll make this quick for now since it’s very late and I have two morning people (bah!) for kids 🙂 I’m not sure about inspirational suggestions….I think I am a very “musical” person. I’m not a musician, but I love most types of music, pay close attention to lyrics (and appreciate cleverness in writing, especially in some country tunes), and tend to be more moved by certain songs. That being said, here’s a starting point with some Christian music (if I can post more later, it will include more genres):

    Relient K – their whole MMHMM album is great, it’s Christian rock, fun to work out to, catchy tunes, check out “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” and “Be My Escape”

    BarlowGirl – Another Journal Entry is a great album, Christian rock, three sisters, good lyrics and music, check out “I Need You To Love Me” and “Never Alone”

    Casting Crowns – check out “Praise You in This Storm” (off their Lifesong album)

    MercyMe – check out “Homesick” (you can find a live performance video on YouTube)

    Switchfoot – good Christian rock that you might occasionally hear on mainstream radio

    Plumb – kind of reminds me of Evanescence (hope that’s not a turn off), check out her songs “Cut” and “I Can’t Do This” (<- I tend to relate to that song on bad mommy days!) Enjoy!
    — Bridget

  2. Dennis

    2 Catholics, and a Protestant; 2 dead, one living:

    Matt Maher (living Catholic) EXCELLENT pop/rock artist, Catholic values, high production quality.

    Palestrina (dead Catholic) EXCELLENT polyphany. Sacred texts in Latin are a plus.

    Bach (dead Protestant)
    Also, EXCELLENT. Lots of German, not such a bad thing, but not as cool as Latin.

  3. SteveK

    Some of the moments that I’ve felt closest to God and most certain of his existence have been when I’m listening to music.

    Boy, I sure can relate to that!

    Everyone has different musical tastes. For me it’s MercyMe and Third Day. I just love Third Day.

    A few years back I was hooked on Michael W. Smith’s “Worship” CD for about 6 months straight. Some of the songs brought me to tears like the weeping violin intro to “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” and of course “Agnus Dei”. Here, you can listen to some clips.

  4. Kate

    I love Cape Breton fiddle music – its the perfect upbeat way to put a little more spring in your step, and its my music of choice while doing house work. Specific artists: Natalie McMaster, Leahy. Specific song (Christian content): Leahy’s “Don’t Let Me Down” and also “A Love Never Known” (both with vocals, both from the album “Lakefield”. You can get any of the instrumental pieces and be sure of getting something great.

  5. Anonymous

    Well, I have to say Christian music has never done a whole lot for me spiritually. Maybe I just haven’t found the right stuff?

    I have very eclectic musical tastes and enjoy a wide range of music, but a couple months ago I decided it was time to get back to more classical, mainly because I want my kids exposed to lots of it before they get too set in their musical tastes and won’t have anything to do with it. I went to Amazon and started looking around, and it was amazing how much wonderful music I found—everything from Palestrina to Tallis to Bach to Mozart to gregorian chant, etc, etc. I realized I had become so enveloped in my daily tasks as domestic engineer and full-time employee outside the home that I had forgotten what a wonderful gift we have in all the music that is available out there. As an added benefit, I discovered that my children seem to behave better when classical music is playing in the background. I was able to convince them that they needed to hear it by ordering a few discs called “Tune Your Brain with Mozart” and “Mozart Makes You Smarter” and pointing out to them that they can use all the help they can get when it comes to brain-tuning and homework. Now they actually put the discs in themselves when getting ready to do homework!!

    I also found some fabulous renaissance music and have been thorougly enjoying several discs I found on Amazon—“Sinners and Saints” and “Le Rocque’n’Roll” These are not spiritual in nature, but they sure are enjoyable listening. You can also check out the Medieval Baebes for some interesting music from that era.

    Sorry, I’ve gotten kind of carried away here. Start browsing around Amazon, and you’ll be amazed at all the wonderful music out there. I especially like the fact that I can read others’ ratings and opinions on each disc.

  6. Anonymous

    There have already been several mentions of Christian rock, and I know you are not big on it, but I have to add my contribution. I’ll try to give specific songs, although I think almost any song is great. My favorite band (besides U2) is Delirious. They are a British Christian rock band. The music is very high-quality though and it defintely challenges me. Some songs I would look for are “Miracle Maker,” “Obsession,” “Our God Reigns,” “Jesus’ Blood,” “Majesty,” (make sure you get the one by Delirious) and that is all I can think of right now.
    Matt Maher is an excellent musician. Frankly, I have really only listened to Christian music since my kids started paying attention to what is on the radio, so I can’t offer much else. I do enjoy classical, but I imagine you are already familiar with anything I would know to listen to. Good luck!

  7. Jeff Miller

    Christian rock follows Sturgeon’s Law. To paraphrase 90 percent of Christian rock is crap, but 90 percent of all music is crap.

    I do listen to some Christian rock that is more in the harder or alternative stage that I think is of very high caliber.
    Stavesacre, P.O.D., Project 86, Common Children, Grammatrain.

    There is a Catholic Rockers podcast that each week introduces people to good specifically Catholic rockers.

  8. Faith

    One of the great joys of having teen-aged children, I’ve discovered, is that you stop listening to the oldies station and pay attention to new music. My dd discovered Christian Rock, which I had never listened to before, until about 2 years ago. I ditto everything Bridget said. I love Reliant K, BarlowGirl and Switchfoot. I can’t believe how clever, deep and thoughtful the lyrics are. None of this stuff was around when I was growing up!

    I so appreciate these artists. Once we had a homeschool teen skate and my dd brought a Christian rock mix cd to skate to. I thought back to my own teens years listening to Eric Clapton sing about Cocaine or the Eagles sing about how they’re already gone. Such drivel. Such vapidity. (Is that a word?). It was so heartening to hear music that uplifted and spoke to the Truth.

  9. Anonymous

    Just wanted to clarify something and ditto something. When I say “Christian rock”, I am by no means including what I call the P&W stuff. I am so not into the praise & worship sound that seems to induce swaying, hands in the air, eyes closed, etc. I don’t like that – never have, no matter how nice a message it might have. That’s why I steered clear of Christian music for so long. I couldn’t find the sound I wanted. Now that sound is readily available in the groups I and others mentioned.

    But as 4andcounting implied, there’s only so much secular music that you can listen to on the radio before your kids start paying attention to lyrics. I rarely (if ever) listen to any sort of “top 40” stations anymore. It’s either the Christian station (rock, very little p&w, thank God) or country. Country is safer content-wise than top 40, but even so, I have had to change the channel due to certain song lyrics.

    But who am I kidding? I am more often than not listening to a VeggieTales cd than one of my own. Not that that’s a bad thing either 🙂 Talk about clever lyrics!!

    — Bridget

  10. SteveG

    My favorite specifically Catholic/inspirational artist by far is John Michael Talbot.

    Check out his CD ‘Our Blessing Cup’ (favorite song on it is ‘Holy Is His Name’)

    Beyond that….whatever is good, fun and enjoyable to listen to.

    I am not up on more recent music so I find my tastes run towards ‘classics’ ranging from Led Zepplin, to ABBA, to Blondie, to the Beatles, even Barry White. All good stuff to have a family dance party in the living room.

    [begin robotic drone voice and blank stare] And. The. Wiggles….I. Love. The. Wiggles. [/end robotic drone voice and blank stare]

    *breaks down weeping due to having heard ‘Toot, Toot, Chugga, Chugga Big Red Car’ one too many times*


  11. SteveG

    OH! WAIT! I forgot to mention….

    Hank Williams (not JR., the original)! His stuff is an absolute pleasure. I am not even a country fan and I still enjoy the heck out of it!

  12. Anonymous

    Another thought regarding kids music–my kids rarely listen to kid-specific music. Occasionally we will put on a Veggie Tales or Cat. Chat CD (which are great) but usually they just listen to what we listen to. Having limited their exposure to the often annoying kids stuff, they don’t ask for it.

    And, P&W is good sometimes, but I definitely like songs that challenge me or make me think. Songs that are honest about the difficult times we all experience in our walk of faith. That is why I like Delirious so much; they have P&W cds, but just good rock albums too.

  13. SteveK

    I mentioned Third Day earlier. Check out “Creed” from the “Offerings II” CD. One of my favorites. The lyrics are here

  14. Laura H.

    Remnant as well as LZ Tees (where you can purchase their music, inluding single MP3s)

    Remnant is a Catholic group started by my friends Angela and Matt back in the 90s. They have performed all over the world and have now started an apostolate (-Remnant Catholic Apostolate).

    They make beautiful music. They are all over the place as far as genres are concerned so generally there is something for everyone.

    Personally, I love the psalms. Psalm 63 by Remnant is absolutely one of my favorites. You can download that one for like 0.93 to kind of get a taste of some of their work.

    While I’m talking about Remnant, I would HIGHLY recommend purchasing their Divine Mercy Chaplet CD. They have a beautiful musical version of the prayer that is faster than other options out there but still keeps it very, VERY prayerful.

    Another group that I have ALWAYS liked is Audio Adrenaline. I don’t hear them played much on Christian radio stations but they rock. Seriously. They aren’t like most Christian bands, IMHO.

    Around the same time I was listening to Audio Adrenaline (btw – their CD “Underdog” is the one I fell in love with) I was also listening to Skillet and Sonic Flood. Good bands.

    I’d suggest checking out Crispin, Fr. Stan Fortuna, and Point5Covenant.

    Point5Covenant has a very moving song called “Sorrowful”. I would buy their Listen.Learn album for JUST THIS SONG – it’s that good! You can preview some of the stuff here: preview page

    My tastes are all over the place. Some of my favorite songs include: You Are Beautiful Beyond Description (Supertones), Adoramus Te Domine, Ave Maria, Salve Regina, Let My Words Be Few, Heart of Worship, We Are One Body (WYD Theme Song – ’93 I believe), and Sorrowful (Point5Covenant).

    Lemme know if you like any of these. 🙂 Especially that point5covenant song!

  15. knit_tgz

    Bach, Bach, Bach!

    Seriously: mostly all sacred choral music (except some 20th century which is way too erudit and dissonant for my ear). Gregorian (of course). Taizé chants (see taize.fr for some excerpts), which for me are great as my church choir sings them and I can sing them, of course. My choir’s homemade CDs 😉 I am also very fond of Mozart’s Requiem, especially the Dies Irae (I have 3 versions of it), and I am in love with Psalm 51 (the Miserere), so I listen to a lot of versions of it. Haendel, also, I love Haendel.

    Also, on non-sacred music: Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana inspires me to work when I’m feeling lazy. Vivaldi’s Seasons (a good version with a good harpsichord player, not a cheesy one) also inspire me to work. Some Beethoven music makes me relax. Some classical/traditional profane choral music gives me a lot of serenity, other makes me think. A lot of Baroque music and Medieval music (cantigas d’amigo, mostly) makes me think more calmly and appreciate beauty better.

    When I need a pick-me-up, also Queen and a particular album of Helloween (Pink Bubbles go Ape). And when I feel violent, well, the music I listen to in those moments is not very inspirational, really, it is more of a way to let the violence go to somewhere instead of hurting somebody…

  16. Tanya

    There’s a cd called: Rejoice! by Sisters In Song that is a group of nuns singing psalms, the halleluia chorus and several other uplifting hymn type songs. I listen to it while jogging or anytime I need to be reminded of the presence of God.

  17. Barb, sfo

    I have really enjoyed Beth Nielsen Chapman’s “Hymns.” Mostly Latin, simply accompanied or a capella.

    I’m a fan of the Veggie Tales myself also. Great stuff.

    For classical, I prefer Bach and some Mozart.

    “Glad” is cool if you like old standard (some Protestant) hymns set to a capella jazz. It’s clever and different–and makes you listen. John Michael Talbot is also good; I prefer the ones he has based on the Psalms, and he has a lovely CD on St. Francis.

    Also, look into Michael Card. He has a wonderful series called “The Life” which does the Life of Christ in song.

  18. Dennis

    I can’t be the only person here who said Matt Maher! I think maybe people don’t know who he is because the large Christian conglomerates don’t usually play Catholic artists.

    Of course, most Catholic artists have recordings that sound like they were made in a garage.

    I like Jeff Miller’s 90% rule.

  19. Kasia

    I’ll echo the Michael Card suggestions, particularly “God’s Own Fool”. He also did a very good recording of “El Shaddai” – but I am partial to Amy Grant’s recording of that one.

    I’m not usually a “praise & worship” fan, but I have to admit, one P&W-styled song that I absolutely love is “Shout to the Lord” by Darlene Zschech. And “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlinson. Both of those are on my iTunes.

    I’ll have to think more about it, but those are what jump out at me.

  20. Eric

    Depends on what you like. One thing you might do if you’re at a computer a lot is subscribe to Yahoo’s Launch service and let it randomly pick music for you out of whichever genres you like. From having Launch spin the disk I discovered:

    The Cure – I used to like them a some, but I’ve found that I like them even more now.

    Dead Can Dance – weird, ethereal…just interesting all the time.

    Bluegrass (!) – Bluegrass is just fun! http://www.bluegrasspreservation.org/

    Grey DeLisle – ‘old-time country’. Her voice just …. gets to me. When I told my wife I was listening to someone singing country, her draw dropped! How embarassing, there was a time that I wouldn’t have ever been caught listening to country or bluegrass.

    The Carter Family – actual old-time country. Definitely Christian.

    Loreena McKennitt – hrm…Enya-ish but with more variety of inspiration.

    Natalie MacMaster – definitely fiddle crazy!

    Mr Scruff – weird hypno-pop

    Ladytron – eclectic electric

    Creedence ClearWater Revival – ‘nough said.

    Gaelic Storm – fun Irish music

  21. Sarah

    Jen, I just love reading your blog posts! In your journey, I see a reflection of my own, and I so relate with what you say about the music of your “past life.”

    I listen to an array of different things, and looking at these comments, I am taking notes… 🙂

  22. carolmickle

    Love, Love, Love: Loreena McKennit, Clannad, Enya, Brown Sisters and George Cavanaugh. I play Loreena McKennits Christmas CD all year long. Oh yeah, Celtic Woman, too.

  23. GLouise

    Great question. When my spirits are low, I really love popping in one of Hillsong Australia’s recordings (they’re the ones who wrote “Shout to the Lord,” etc., but there are some others they have written that aren’t as well known, with beautiful lyrics).

    And of course, I must give a nod to my friends third day; mercy me and casting crowns.

  24. Anonymous

    I believe C.S. Lewis’ opinions of literature compare well to toiday’s music when he said, to paraphrase, “The world doesn’t need more great christian books, the world needs more great books by Christians.”

    Thus I recommend

    Supper’s Ready by Genesis
    A song from the album Foxtrot about the apocalypse and the 2nd coming of christ, very powerful, it can still bring a tear to my eye.

    Close To The Edge by Yes
    Not necessarily christian, but very spiritual and some critics do think it is distinctly christian. Expert musicianship backs very metaphorical lyrical images. Highly Recommended.

    Anything by Sunny Day Real Estate or Jeremy Enigk

    The band Sunny Day Real Estate broke up supposedly because of Jeremy Enigk’s conversion to christianity. All of his music is very spiritual and sends tingles up and down my spine.

    I have been following your blog for some time now, I hope you take a moment to check out some of these artists, you’ll be glad you did.

  25. Robert

    Rich Mullins.

  26. Canadian

    I like listening to Taizé and to recordings of sacred choral music (especially Anglican church music) and hymns. I don’t care for “Christian rock” or “CCM”.

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