[Apologies to Wes Burke for blatantly ripping off his “hidden gems” series. Sorry Wes… but it’s just such a good idea I had to get a piece of the pie!]
Somebody has posted Gold City’s entire Pillars of Faith concert video to Youtube in five parts. A thousand blessings on his head, because that most excellent video has sadly been long OOP. [Update: I’m wrong! Thanks to Steven and Brandon for informing me that this video has been made available as part of a box set here.] Recently I had the chance to sit down and enjoy the concert piece by piece. It was all excellent, but there was one song in particular that really moved me in a way it hadn’t before.
I first heard the song “Beneath This Armor” on Brian Free & Assurance’s At Your Request project of Gold City covers. At the time, I thought it was nice, but it didn’t really stick and struck me as less well composed than Twila Paris’s very similar classic “Warrior is a Child” (which could easily be covered by someone in SG, by the way). Some time passed until I found Brian’s live performance of the song from Pillars of Faith. When he began setting it up, I was deeply affected by what he had to say about putting our trust in human beings who can fail, something I coincidentally had just been writing about myself. The concert was taped in 1992, just after the Michael English and Sandi Patty scandals had broken. Brian refers to them without mentioning their names and talks about the great tragedy of all the people who were let down as a result of their heroes’ fall. [My goof. I didn’t make sure of the dates and just assumed those were the scandals he was referring to because they were so well known. Perhaps he had somebody like Marsha Stevens in mind.] But from there he moves to point out that the human race as a whole is frail and broken, and the mere fact that he stands behind a microphone doesn’t render him any less susceptible to temptation than the people in his audience.
When I realized he was setting up “Beneath This Armor,” I decided to give it another shot. I found myself nearly on the verge of tears by the time the song was over. “Warrior Is a Child” is definitely catchier and flows better, especially the music. But lyrically, “Beneath This Armor” digs more deeply into the same theme. The chorus alone is remarkable. And Brian sings it all with such incredible poignancy that I hang on every word. I think you hear a real maturity in his voice on this song. Watch the video. It includes the setup and the song, as well as the number they did right after it. (I couldn’t find a video with just “Beneath This Armor,” so forgive the extra song. It’s a fun toe-tapper, but it kind of ruins the mood, so I recommend just stopping the vid at that point.)