Michael Been, the bassist and frontman for the band “The Call,” passed away this Thursday from a heart attack. He was 60 and had been working sound for his son’s band “Black Rebel Motorcycle Club” at a pop festival in Belgium.
The Call never quite got over the hump on the way to topping the music charts, but they came out of the same impulse that yielded U2, early Violent Femmes, and other pop groups that were deeply influenced by their faith commitments. Certainly most of them have ended up being prone to the kinds of excesses that plague the entertainment industry (Been aggravated me on a number of occasions), but The Call took their name seriously, introducing explicitly Christian principles to their lyrics as part of their mission. “Everywhere I Go” spoke to Providence. “The Walls Came Tumbling Down” to the power of faith. “I Still Believe” to the enduring optimism that God produces in our lives, no matter the circumstances. Videos for the songs still reside at places like youtube.
For those of us who came of age in the early 80s, these groups gave us an important release for the songs of our hearts. I remember that our local Christian station programmers thought they were edgy because they played Sandi Patty; Amy Grant was too much of a rocker for them. I was one of those who kept wondering, as the late Larry Norman so aptly put it, why should the devil have all the good music? In the energy and authenticity of groups like The Call, I found succor for my spirit and balm for my youthful angst. Like all things that are founded on God’s truth, Been’s music will live on well beyond his own life in this world. Praises for the glory of God always do.