Andy Thornton was a major influence on my life. At a particular time in my following of Jesus he arrived like an angel beyond coincidence. He articulated many of my suspicions that I was heading down a narrow road but that it wasn’t the narrow road that Jesus said led to life, more the narrowness of the legalism that Jesus fought against. He widened my soul’s vision. He got me sacked from at least one PCI Youth Board committee but that is for another blog!
Andy even had a song that expressed that spiritual crossroads. Rage in The Darkness appears in the extra Cd available with Andy’s new record Ages. It’s remastering gives even more energy to the liberation that God’s love brings and critiques the counterfeit version “That leads me into slavery while promising to set me free…. It’s a rage, rage, rage in the darkness.”
Ages is Andy Thornton as we have always known him. If you took the lyrical poetry and near jazz styling of Bruce Cockburn and added an late 80s Scottish pop sheen you’ll get the idea. His own band of that time Big Sur were contemporaries of Deacon Blue, The Big Dish, Love and Money, The Bathers, Aztec Camera, The Pearlfishers et al. Andy probably dreams of Cockburn’s literary genius and guitar virtuoso but then Bruce would have benefitted from Thornton’s voice and pop sensibility.
Ages is a record not so much about ageing as maturity. It is an album full of insights on life, love, mortality, travel and politics. The opening track might describe that freedom for spiritually more that Andy first inspired within my own soul:
Maybe the world is still out there?
Maybe the keys are all inside?
Maybe we’re hiding them away?
Come on let’s climb every mountain,
Let’s sail the ocean wide
Seek and you will find
Hide and you will seek nothing… and find it
Find Me In the Birdsong gives us Andy’s mission statement, “But I was born to sing of love and search the earth for meaning”. That is what Andy does in songs. Lahore Moon is a beaut about Andy’s work in far way places and the lessons he has learn from finding a wider perspective of living.
This Time ,This Place, This Skin asks about the accidents of post code births and wrestles with how we can make the world more just. Blood Or Money asks what the driving force of our relationship with neighbour is and Cruel Britannia rages against an arrogant British psyche that works itself out in horrific treatment of other nations.
All this objective surmising is wrapped around subjective songs of love and faith. In Falling Upwards with its title taken from a Richard Rohr book Andy is ever seeking growth in vulnerability:
No man is a strong as he may seem
Though some may learn the script
and play the scene
But when the story falls apart
it takes a broken heart for new light to get in
The extra CD makes the £10 price tag an utter bargain, a Thornton “Greatest Hits”. I have to confess I had forgotten how brilliant Rage In The Darkness, Stone Cold Winter, 21 and Heartbeat In Everything were.
Ages has been a joy of summer listening with as much stimulating content as any good book.