The Bent World: A Review of "The Used World," by Haven Kimmel
A Person's a Person, No Matter How Small

Do You Know This Man? (What Nicholas Giaconia Gave Us)

Nicholas Giaconia In these days of MySpace, Facebook, blogs, and an internet that is ubiquitous, it's a rare thing to find that an artist has managed to stay below the radar.  But apparently Nicholas Giaconia has managed to do that.  Nick is a talented singer-songwriter who released an interesting folk-pop record called Center of the Earth in the CCM environment in 1994 --- 14 years ago and what seems like a century in the music world.  Some things don't change much: There are still some greedy corporate types, artists on the make, and some form of payola (no matter how subtle).  However, since Nick's record, the music scene has been transformed more than once.  Whatever brief mainstream attention folk music had in the early Nineties, it quickly vanished, and all the folk music types went back to scrubbing for change.   But Nick Giaconia deserved a better break than he had.

This is fine record with ballads, blues songs, folk melodies, and a tongue-in-cheek defense of Amy Grant --- who was, at the time, under a microscope because she filmed a video with a man who was not her husband, sang songs that weren't filled with biblical references, and dressed like a woman who lived in the Nineties, leaving many to speculate that she had "sold out" or lost her faith.  It all seems silly now, but that's the way it was then, and Nick captured it, singing "she's sold out to the public/ money's all she hopes to find/ she doesn't sing for You no more/ I know because I can read her mind/ She's all strung out on drugs/ In fact I hear she worships Satan now/ Well everybody's judging Amy/ and you can clearly see/ that she has lost her thirst" and so on from there, a fun song and yet one full of truth.

There are some familiar names here, like Derri Daugherty (of The Choir) singing background vocals.  And some interesting sounds, like the steel-hooded national guitar played by Chris Carero.  Lyrically, it ranges from a couple songs that spring form biblical narratives, like "Woman at the Well," to worship, "Psalm," to other songs of psyche and soul, like the title cut, "Center of the Earth," which is no doubt a metaphor for the interior life and experience of the writer, as he beckons us to come along: "I took my journey to the center of the earth/ sent back black and white postcards to people up above/ the weather is nice here, no snow no rain/ but I haven't seen sunshine in days/ it looks like that's how it's gonna stay/ at the center of the earth."  The rest of the song becomes surreal, like something Larry Norman might have written, with Nick introducing all the people he's met at the center of the earth, like Elvis or Jimmy Hoffa, concluding that "you don't know me you don't know my blues/ till you've walked to the center of the earth/ in my blue suede shoes."  All in all, he is reminiscent of Bruce Cockburn --- always a tough sell in the Christian marketplace.

So how did Nick Giaconia's record see the light of day?  David Bunker, one of the principals in REX Records, a CCM label devoted in the late Eighties and early Nineties to Christian heavy metal (like Deitophobia) formed an imprint around singer-songwriters, figuring the time was ripe.  A lot of very good music was released on the imprint, Storyville Records, including Jan Krist, Australian Steve Grace, the UK duo Phil and John, Mo Leverett, Charlotte Madeleine, Eden Burning, and The Crossing.  But the label tanked.  The CCM market wasn't having it.  My own Silent Planet Records was born out of that frustration, though we focused on the mainstream market with better success for a time, until that market changed as well.

But enough of that.  You should hear Nick Giaconia.  You should celebrate the fact that something authentic and well-crafted and not slickly produced made it out in that time, a record that for the few Christians listening was like a breath of fresh air.  Let Nick be symbolic of all that great music that got overlooked.  Listen to just one song from Nick, "Better To Have Loved," here:    And then go buy a used copy of this long out of print record, now selling for the shameful price of as low as $.56 right here.  That's what happens to good music sometimes.

If you know how to get in touch with Nick, let me know.  I'd like to thank him for a good record and remind him that what he did back then still means something now, that he's not forgotten.  Good music endures.

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