Mark Smith (far left), Skip Headen (far right), Jeff Jordan (3rd from left), and I (2nd from left) met in Mark’s parents, Dan and L’nore Smith’s living room in February, 1981 to sing together. I had just moved to Plano after having been on the road with my original rock band, Desi Red, for approximately 4 years.
I remember thinking to myself, “there’s no way I’m going to be involved in a band again.” I just wanted to get off the road.
However, it didn’t help my resolve that the blend of voices was unlike anything I’d ever heard before – harmonically and uniquely rich and powerful. I was used to singing with a lot of volume, and they weren’t shy either, so it was a very strong sound, and more strikingly to me, the blend was almost magical.
We first sang publicly at First Christian Church in Plano where my Dad, Dr. David Darnell was pastor, and my mother, Sarah Darnell was playing piano and organ. We were immediately received, let’s say, enthusiastically. We performed with various pianists initially, before working with full bands, and also learned several acapela tunes; for example, The-Lord’s-Prayer – this incredible arrangement by Jim Clancy, founder of the internationally acclaimed men’s chorus, The Vocal Majority, out of Dallas.
“On a Better Road,” the half-live, half-acapela album that features The Lord’s Prayer, and nine other vocally excellent tunes, has been one of our best selling albums for almost thirty years. I just listened to it again for the first time in forever. It’s pretty darn good, if I do say so, certainly a different musical genre than my rock and roll days. The title cut, “On a Better Road,” was auto-biographical, saying a whole lot about my life after having encountered the living Jesus, Holy Spirit in a run-down motel room in Hobbs, New Mexico while playing in a biker bar. That experience and encounter changed my life completely and put me figuratively and realistically on a better road!
– Tim Darnell –
March 24, 2012 (Jeff’s birthday, btw)
If you would like the album, it’s still available. ($15.00 plus 1.92 shipping – Texas residents pay 8.25% sales tax)