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Crowd shot masthead ApologetiX Logo Keith Haynie plays bassBill Hubauer plays lead guitarJ. Jackson sings leadJimmy Vegas Tanner plays drums
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The Stories Behind the Songs on Our 22nd Single
Thu., Dec. 30. 2021 12:59am EST

J. Jackson, lead singer and lyricist for ApologetiX here again.

Here are the stories behind the songs on our 22nd and final single of 2021:

TOUGHENED UP

While the other Israelites saw Goliath and could only whisper, "Look at that, look at that," David said, "I don't care; stand back." Faith is powerful stuff when you're trusting in the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel. It enabled a shepherd boy to take a stone, wrap it up in a sling, and take down a giant.

But this song isn't solely about that oft-told story — it's about various faith-testing experiences that happened in David's life, including his encounters with a lion and a bear while tending sheep (as he recounted in 1 Samuel 17:34-37), his life on the run from King Saul, and his various troubles and trials with his sons Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-39), Absalom (2 Samuel 15:1-19:14), Adonijah (1 Kings 1:5-53), and the first baby boy Bathsheba bore to him (2 Samuel 12:13-23).

Jesus' half-brother James says "the testing of your faith produces perseverance" (James 1:3). The Apostle Paul also tell us that "suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us" (Romans 5:3b-5).

I sang "Tuff Enuff" in a secular band during the short time between when it was a hit in mid-1986 and when I became a born-again Christian in early '88. I got the title for "Toughened Up" on November 3, 2021. Then I thought of the line in the original about wrestling with a lion and a bear, and I knew it had to be about David.

ONCE LIVIN' TWICE DIED (2021)

We originally released "Once Livin' Twice Died" in 2000. I was never satisfied with that recording, but I thought the parody had a lot of potential, so I'd been wanting to redo it for quite some time. With 21 years to get it right, the singing is better and the playing is tighter. You'll also notice some changes to the lyrics in each of the verses.

Moreover, our 2021 version is about a minute and a half longer than our 2000 version, because it includes the full-length outro of the song we spoofed, "Once Bitten Twice Shy" by the rock band Great White. That tune went through multiple versions, too.

The original was written and performed by Ian Hunter in 1975. It was a #14 hit in the U.K. but didn't do anything here. Shaun Cassidy released his interpretation as a single in 1980, but that didn't chart on either side of the pond. However, Great White scored a massive U.S. hit with their version in '89 (#5 pop, #6 rock).

I missed it back then, because I had just become a born-again Christian in '88. Consequently, when we recorded "Once Livin' Twice Died" in 2000, I missed some of singer Jack Russell's vocal nuances and inflections, so I took great pains to copy them the second time around.

As I was practicing my parts, I noticed some rough spots in my original parody lyrics that needed some polishing, so I endeavored to make the 2021 lyrics rhyme better (with the original and with themselves) and sound a little more natural while conveying the message more accurately and with a little more hope.

H.R. PUFNSTUF

I got the idea for the chorus of this parody sometime in the 2000's, though I never expected to expand on it. However, once we made plans to do a biblical spoof of "Tuff Enuff" in 2021, I decided to write a couple verses for "H.R. Pufnstuf" as a bonus track.

In case you don't know, H.R. Pufnstuf was a live-action Saturday-morning children's TV show that first aired in September 1969. It featured life-sized puppets and starred teen idol Jack Wild, who'd just played the Artful Dodger in the movie Oliver! There were only 17 episodes, but NBC (and then ABC) kept showing reruns through September '73.

It was the first of a number of popular programs produced by Sid and Marty Krofft, including The Bugaloos (1970), Lidsville (1971), Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973), Land of the Lost (1974), and others that followed. I watched the five series I mentioned pretty regularly.

I even had an H.R. Pufnstuf lunchbox in first grade till the unthinkable happened ... I dropped it and broke the thermos. Then the undrinkable happened; I still remember the little shards of silver, glistening in my milk.

About 40 years later, my wife and daughters got me a bobblehead of Pufnstuf himself — the friendly dragon who was mayor of the island where the show took place — for Christmas, so I bought the complete series on DVD for the girls to watch. They loved it. Jimmy, Rich, and Wayne, who all played on this track, were also H.R. Pufnstuf fans as kids. In fact, Wayne told me he had the lunchbox too.