God's Grace & Paper Lace: 1974-2008
Mon., May. 19. 2008 6:34pm EDT
Two of the first songs ApologetiX lead singer/lyricist J. Jackson ever learned all the words to were a pair of number-one hits from the summer of 1974, "Billy Don't be a Hero" and "The Night Chicago Died." In fact, those songs were probably influential in the childhoods of all four ApologetiX band members and any other American kid alive at the time. Both are classic storytelling songs that originated with the same band, an English group called Paper Lace.
Paper Lace first scored a number-one hit in the United Kingdom with "Billy Don't Be a Hero," which was covered by a U.S. group called Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods, who took their version to number one in the United States before Paper Lace could release the original here. Paper Lace would not be beaten to the punch a second time, though. They released "The Night Chicago Died" (a number-three U.K. hit) soon after, and hit the top position on the U.S. charts.
So what's with the music trivia lesson? Read the email below and see:
Let me tell you how I came to order the ApologetiX song book. I'm the teaching pastor of a church in the UK and I often lead worship, too. On Saturday, I was supposed to be preparing music for Sunday, but the only thing I had in my mind was "Long Train Running". I was so obsessed with the tune that I Googled something like, "Christian+lyrics+long train running" and your site came up! I had never heard of the band. I looked around the site and felt an immediate witness with what I saw. I ordered your song book as a result.Editor's note: Isn't God cool?
Get this -- I spent the next six hours reading/singing my way through the songbook! To cut the story short, it was Sunday am before I managed to stop singing your songs and get down to preparing worship for Sunday! I love your work! I honestly have not laughed so much in a good long time. I really appreciate the 'technicalities' of the lyrics. Who knows what will come of having your song book...
Incidentally, I have a history in music/sound engineering and noticed your mention of "Billy Don't be a Hero" and "The Night Chicago Died." I was sound engineer with Paper Lace when those tracks were recorded/toured!