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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Author: Mark Solomon
Label: Skeleton Key Publishing
Mark Solomon was vocalist/lyricist for The Crucified and presently holds the same position with Stavesacre. Other small but notable projects include Outer Circle and Native Son. Solomon’s vocation is that of a musician, yet his current achievement is that rarest of items; an honest chronicle of his experiences in popular music as a Christian.
Solomon has produced a book of road stories, a biography, and a word to the church based upon his experiences. It’s a book of his origins, what he’s experienced, what he’s taken from those experiences into his present life and why he no longer wants to be a musician in the “Christian Market.” It is an easy, conversational read by a keen observer of himself and others whose funny stories keep things rolling. Personal confessions deepen this autobiography with bleak views into his darker moments before testifying as to how God can use even an egotistical, selfish artist like himself. Notably, Solomon confesses to living the sexually-active lifestyle of a rock ‘n’ roll star during his last few years with The Crucified, and his ongoing battles against the temptation to manipulate audiences in the name of Jesus.
Interspersed throughout the book Solomon tells the story from beginning to the end of The Crucified; who they were and what held them together and ultimately what broke them up. Mark also weaves in the ongoing tale of Stavesacre but since that story is still being written, it is not covered in depth. Solomon does, however punctuate his book with lyrics from the band’s songs to illustrate his thoughts.
One interesting section of the book chronicles the time Stavesacre went to Europe to play at Germany’s Freakstock Festival. Mark gives us an amusing blow-by-blow account of how things barely fell into place as he points out the cultural differences between the Christian community he found there and the one he has traveled in throughout the USA.
The meat of the book are the many interactions with church members, particularly the misguided expectations of some who hire “Christian” bands (or was it bands with Christians, or simply bands hired by Christians???) From someone who considers himself an entertainer, not an evangelist, the vignettes with pastors make good reads. Solomon is trying to make clear the way local churches treat bands that they’ve hired to entertain their kids; that unfortunately, the Christian leadership would often expect, in Solomon’s view, extra-Biblical things. “The gospel should be free,” justifies Solomon when explaining why he refuses to incorporate preaching into Stavesacre sets.
Mark Solomon appears to have a pretty good spiritual relationship with the Lord, and has truly repented from past sins. I’m not prepared to make any personal judgments on him, however, I am ready make a recommendation that you read the book. If you are a Mark Solomon fan, a Crucified fan (despite the fact that Mark doesn’t seem to like them anymore), or a Stavesacre fan, you’ll want to pick up Simplicity as a history. But this is a story that goes past Mark Solomon and covers the entire Christian music scene and for that reason, it is a must-read for all fans of The Phantom Tollbooth. This is a tell-all volume where Mark Solomon fearlessly and transparently over the course of a 244-page rambling conversation reveals all.
Tony & Linda LaFianza 1/17/2004