Christmas Product Placement #2: anything by Phil Keaggy

All right, you got some nice Christmas music for Aunt Billie-Joe Bob. You also tried to take back that hideous all cat choir Christmas CD to that specialty shop that sell things for cats and by cats that had popped up in the decrepit section of the mall. However, the store owner is just as frantic to get rid of her stock as you are. So not only have you not returned the Cat Christmas CD, but somehow, you’ve been suckered into buying four more copies.

So as you stare at five identical CD covers of cats looking non-plussed in bright Santa hats, maybe you should wander over to the nearest music store again to try to clear your head. What else can you get for your poor aunt? May I suggest Phil Keaggy?

phil-keaggy.jpgEveryone knows Phil Keaggy. Christian singer, quite popular in the 70s and 80s with his band Glass Harp, then on his own. Incredible guitarist with nine-and-a-half fingers, having to always put down the rumors of when Jimmy Hendricks was asked if anyone was better than him, he replied, “Phil Keaggy.” Musician who keeps putting out CD after CD after CD after CD, and yet each one seems different–instrumental, blues, acoustic, electric jam, Spanish flamenco. This guy is so prolific, it’s getting hard to keep up with his releases, and I’ve been collected stuff from him since my college days.

Even if you’re not a Christian, you should listen to this guy. The man is a musical whiz, and at least his instruments are fun to listen to. But for you Christians out there, you must have at least one CD. One! Because if you don’t, you’re missing out on some awesome Christian music.

What CD do I recommend? Hard to tell. He’s done so many–nearly 50 CDs to date, in fact. Feeling a little Beatlesque? Get “Sunday’s Child”. Want a more soothing tone with vocals? Get “It’s Personal” (one of my favorites–his voice is a little deeper than his previous works). In the mood for Spanish Guitar? Get “Lights of Madrid” (another favorite). Want more kick-butt electric? Get “On the Fly”? Do you just want him doing Christian Contemporary? Get “Inseparable” or his self-titled “Phil Keaggy”. Are you a writer, or any other type of artist? Do your craft while listening to “Music to Paint By”. Are you one of those who went to his concerts and saw him looping back his own music through a Jamman and thought, “Man, wouldn’t it be great if he released a CD with just him doing that?” Why are you even reading this review? Chances are, you already have “Roundabout”. Don’t have a clue what that last sentence meant? Get the “Philly Live” DVD and watch him be a one-man band. Overwhelmed by the mere snippets of choices I mentioned? Then subscribe to his monthly podcast at, then put on some earphones and grooooooove….

With all the stuff he’s put out, it’s surprising that he’s not super popular. When was the last time you heard a song from him on Christian radio? Do people simply consider him as part of the great wave of musicians of the 80s who happened to fade into the background with the advent of Christian alternative and pop? I don’t know. With Christian music, it’s always hard to tell. Maybe it’s because his music isn’t really considered pop-worthy anymore. His music is far more diverse and ‘musical’ than that. In a sense, Keaggy’s music is underrated in the Christian Music Industry. No one knows how to classify it, because the man just puts out a lot. Maybe that will change with his latest vocal CD “Dream Again”, but I’m not holding my breath.

But you know what? It’s okay. Phil has never been about how popular his music is. He just wants to worship God using the best gift he has, and if we have fun with him, hey, that’s cool too.

Goodness, where did that soapbox come from? This is supposed to be a Christmas Product Placement, not a rant on the Christian Music industry. So let me tuck that soapbox under my desk and get to the true meaning of the Christmas Spirit. Buy Phil Keaggy’s music! Buy! Buy! Buy! Get several copies of his library if you have to. Wipe out your checking account! You can always sell the unopened gifts on eBay to get your cash back. You’re gonna have to do that with the Catty Christmas CDs anyhow.