Jacob's Trouble - Knock, Breathe, Shine
Music You Might Want to Consider - J
I swear, I’m not a thief. At least not someone who steals intentionally. But I stole my first copy of this album.
I remember the day that my friend Mike bought this cassette. We were at a small Christian bookstore, and we both planned on buying some new music. I don’t remember what tape I bought, but I remember that Mike bought Knock, Breathe, Shine, by Jacob’s Trouble.
He had seen them in concert at a festival a year or two before, and he said something along the lines of, “These guys are cool, they’re like a throwback to the sixties.” At the time, I was mostly into heavy metal, so a band that played music from thirty years before wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.
But somehow, I ended up borrowing that exact cassette a few months later. And I never gave it back. Did I steal it? Not really. But it feels like it. Mike had married his high school sweetheart, and a year later, they were planning on moving to another state. When I mentioned, “Oh, I have to give you that Jacob’s Trouble tape back.”, he responded with, “You can keep it, man. You seemed to like it way more than I did.”
He was right, too.
From the moment I had borrowed that tape, it lived in my cassette player for a solid six months. I didn’t listen to anything else. That’s no exaggeration. I only listened to that cassette for half of an entire year.
I regret nothing.
I can’t quite remember what kind of headspace I was in when I began my six month Knock, Breathe, Shine binge. Maybe I was tired of distorted guitars, and screaming or growling vocals. Maybe I just wanted to listen to something that, when played loudly, didn’t result in my grandfather yelling at me to turn it down.
What KBS did for me was helped me come to the realization that Christian art didn’t have to be on-the-nose without sacrificing boldness. It didn’t have to mimic popular styles in order to be successful1.
Regardless my reasoning for listening to that tape alone for six months, the fact remains that KBS is one of the most important albums of my life. The first tape I played in my first car’s tape deck? Knock, Breathe, Shine. The only tape I had in my car when I went on my honeymoon? Knock, Breathe, Shine. The first CD that I imported into iTunes? You guessed it. Knock, Breathe, Shine.
I had a chance to see Jacob’s Trouble perform a number of times. Every time at the Kingdom Bound festival, held at a theme park in Western NY. In those days, before Christian music was corporatized, performers at this particular festival were extremely accessible. They would stay for the duration of the festival, even on the days that they weren’t playing. They’d hang out at their merch tables, talking to fans, signing autographs, etc.2
Jacob’s Trouble were no different. They were almost always at their table, and I may have been more than a little annoying, hanging out, asking them questions, not really buying much. I did buy a t-shirt, though. Unsurprisingly it was a t-shirt repping Knock, Breathe, Shine.
My first time seeing Jacob’s Trouble play live was at Kingdom Bound 1992. That particular festival was dubbed, “Mudfest”, because it rained almost every day. Jacob’s Trouble had two shows planned, one on a Thursday afternoon, another on a Friday night. On Thursday, the power to the stage where they were playling had been knocked out by lightning.
Most artists would just not play, and nobody would blame them. But not Jacob’s Trouble - they played a full set of songs acoustically, and it was awesome. The power was restored towards the end of the show, and they immediately geared up and played another full set - this time plugged in.
I’ve seen U2 in concert 3 times. But my favorite concert experience was Jacob’s Trouble in 1992. It solidified my love of the band and my love of their music. It also lead to me replacing the cassette in my tape deck. This time, it was Let the Truth Run Wild!, Jacob’s Trouble’s third album and follow up to Knock, Breathe, Shine.
I learned later that Jacob’s Trouble wasn’t completely original. They combined the styles of Daniel Amos, The Monkees, and the Byrds, with a little bit of U2 sprinkled in for flavor.
It wasn’t just smaller artists either. At one point, I was able to talk to John James of the Newsboys for a little bit, but he brushed me off to talk with a few young ladies who were fawning over him. Nothing personal, I would have brushed me off too.