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Carman Bibliography: (click on each album cover to view tracks and Carman lyrics)
Good Day! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to risk taking a very urgent message to all nations. It won't be easy. If you, or any member of your force, are discovered, don't worry. It's supposed to be that way. And that is the overwhelming message throughout Carman's latest and perhaps most formidable album to date, Mission 3:16.
From the title song to the last track, the album's focus leaves no doubt. Woven throughout a pounding score reminiscent of the classic emmy-winning 1960s TV series, "Mission: Impossible," Carman's repeated message is one of bravado in dropping behind enemy lines to implement what has become known as the Great Commission from Matthew 28:19-20-taking God's message of salvation to the streets.
For Carman, the album's intuition of believers as spies behind enemy lines is obvious. "The whole essence of life here on this planet is a battle," he offers. "You're either winning or you're losing; victorious over life's problems or not. But to be victorious requires planning, strategy, an unwavering focal point that the mission must be accomplished and an absolute reliance on God's strength in the battle." Carman says you can liken that to a spy mission, where the secret agent must have the diligence to discern the enemy, the faithfulness and devotion to duty even in the face of extreme adversity, and willingness to forge ahead at all cost toward the goal.
So is Carman's new album the latter day spiritual answer to boot camp a la James Bond, albeit without his multi-faceted, much coveted car? "I can't show anyone how to be courageous or fearless or how to bear witness to someone," he points out. "Not everyone can do what I do, and I can't do what other people do. That's the beauty of all of us being different yet alike, spiritually-we can relate to others on an individual basis. What I feel I've been led to do with this album is give people a healthy dose of strength through God. Sometimes everyone needs the courage to continue - or start. If this album inspires them to go out to the highways and byways and actually be a part of saving someone destined for destruction, then I've fulfilled my goal."
The intensity of his latest album is self-evident, but the engine that powers the message remains somewhat of a forewarning. "In this particular season of my life I sense God saying that the time of the end is coming much sooner than we think," he counsels. "Many of the songs on this album deal with the conversion experience. Our mission, as believers, is to share the message of salvation with others as fast as we can. And that's what the title song is all about."
- We can't contain what's inside
Thunder and lightning can't hide
Freed from the past
Destined to win
Taking the Gospel where it's never been - "Mission 3:16"
Carman says that souls are not saved in bundles. They're saved one by one in the trenches where spirit-to-spirit combat becomes as important as diplomacy. And when all diplomatic efforts fail - "People of God" will march forward. Combining a victorious marching style with a bit of rap dropped in, Carman says he was inspired to write "People of God" after participation in the "March for Jesus" through the streets of Nashville. "We should be a spiritual army on a spiritual quest for righteousness, Carman says. "Like the song says, 'Full of hope, faith, and fire, we're the chosen, rising to a higher plane.' And part of that higher plane is recognizing that no power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God in a human heart." Russ Taff lent his powerful vocals to "People of God."
In the song, "Legendary Mission," Carman, who cut his musical teeth with Bill Gaither and was also heavily influenced by Andrae Crouch, had some help from an unlikely source, Tony Orlando, the 1970s TV and recording star who exhorted all of us to "Tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree."
"We became like father and son during my recent concert series in Branson, Missouri," Carman smiles. " I would sing and he'd evangelize by bringing other entertainers on the strip to the concert. We were a team and it's only appropriate that he'd sing this song." In surprising down-on-the-corner, finger-snapping, a cappella doo-wop, Orlando sings an unexpected version of John 3:16 that expertly sets up a song that gives a hint of Carman's own hardships-"Never Be."
"It's a song that is personal to me because I have lived it," he offers about "Never Be," which he sings with the R&B gospel group Out of Eden. "Sometimes when you're at your worst and all but forgotten, the Lord shows up the strongest." Carman says he knows that the album has a victorious flavor, but it's not because believers are like Superman, with bullets bouncing off, and immune to heartache and pain-it's because God truly draws close to those who need him most. "The most important thing for us to do is to find the will of God and do it," he challenges. "That's where true victory and true happiness lie."
- Never be a heart that He
Couldn't mend each broken piece
Never be a wounded soul He would ignore
There'll never be a time that He
Would ever turn His back on me
There'll never be a life He can't restore - "Never Be"
During Carman's R.I.O.T (Righteous Invasion of Truth) tour in 1996, he sang a song to himself to give him energy and spiritual stamina. The song, "Jesus is the Lamb," remains personal to the guy from "Joisey" (New Jersey). Full of praise choruses that churches all over the nation will surely adopt, the central thread is one of Glory and Honor and Power and Praise. "I thought, hey, if it makes me worship, maybe it'll work for someone else," he smiles.
Carman's 14th album also marks the return of what catapulted him into the Christian music arena in the first place-the "story song." Usually, taken from sermons he has heard, this is the first time since the mid-eighties, when he wrote "The Champion," that he has taken the stimulus from one of his own sermons from the R.I.O.T. tour.
With an intro redolent of the old television series, "Dragnet," "Courtroom" emphasizes the power of a sinner saved by grace. "I wanted to include this song in the album because I think it will give that spiritual secret agent in all of us the impetus and incentive to do what we have been called to do," Carman notes. "Now, I know it ain't easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Hopefully this song will give a gentle nudge."
A different kind of nudge comes from the only instrumental on the album-"Surf Mission"-a tune reminiscent of Dick Dale and The Beach Boys and with the guitar mastery and Beatle-esque "oohs" and "aahs" of Phil Keaggy. Now Carman has never caught a wave, hung ten, or waxed down his board on the beach, but that hasn't stopped him from thinking about it. "Sometimes you need to rest and recuperate from the mission at hand," he says. "Kickin' back on the beach is one way, but no matter what way we choose, the task is forever at hand and we know we've got to get back in the field."
From the shores of R&R, Carman quickly catapults the listener to Jamaica and Ireland all at the same time, where he gives "The Lord's Prayer" a new musical feel. The result, "Prayer Anthem," is infectious. "I always had trouble singing the long ballad version of 'The Lord's Prayer,'" he explains. "I just said to myself, 'why doesn't somebody write one that's easy enough so simple people like me can sing?' So I did!"
What else Carman did on Mission 3:16 was give one reason why believers are on their own missions. The result, "Not Ashamed," is a riveting account of why Christians tolerate being looked upon as outcasts and fanatics, and why the believer still persists. "After seeing over a million Promise Keepers march on Washington, this song just forced and clawed its way to the surface," he points out. "If you picture that special day in your mind while this song is playing, you'll understand the full meaning of what happened that day, and what happens every day in little ways, as the mission is accomplished by individuals."
- For those of you who fight the wars
Against our nations sins
Heroes who give so much more than is required of them
For those of you who paid a price
Beyond what words can say
Remember that you're not alone with the cross you bear each day - "Not Ashamed"
Breaking from the emotion-evoking "Not Ashamed," Carman goes country-yes, country, with a children's song he wrote more than a decade ago. "Do I Do" was originally about faith and trust, but explained in a way that a child would grasp. With the flavor of twangy guitars and a Cajun beat, the song reaches down to the child in all of us, making us surely know that God is on the throne. But just as quickly as "Do I Do" hits its last twang, the very short, "Missione D'Italiano's" operatic falsetto ignites the listener as Giovanni 3:16 resonates all over the ristorante Italiano de Deo, with just the right amount of Romano, Mama Mia. So what do you expect from a guy named Carman Licciardello?
A combination of Sly and the Family Stone and rap essence sets the stage for the big-time spiritual warfare song, "Slam." Carman is famous for this in-your-face, conquering style, but is quick to point out that as children of the King, it's He, not us, that does the conquering. "God gives the shoulder according to the burden, and what he does equally is take the weak and make them strong in Himself," he says. "Just as James Bond has to stay in shape to fulfill his mission, we too have to workout. Sometimes the devil just needs to be told off and slammed with the Gospel."
What else takes spiritual muscle, according to Carman, is recognizing our blessings and why we've been given them. In the ballad, "All in Life," we get a rare glimpse inside Carman's power plant. "To me," he positions, "using my talent to help build the Kingdom of God is the only thing worth waking up for. God didn't give us our individual abilities, gifts, and talents to keep them for ourselves. He is merciful to us so we can be merciful to others. He is generous to us so we can be generous to those less fortunate. That's part of the mission, too."
- That kingdoms come and kingdoms go
But through the word of God I know
When all in life is done and past
Only what's done for Christ will last - "All in Life"
"But whether it's you or I," says Carman, "Through it all, we should never forget to let God shine through us for everyone to see." That's what our mission is-if we choose to accept it."