My 12 Favorite Sara Groves’ Songs
I first heard the music of Sara Groves 12 years ago, and from the very beginning she stood out as different -- not one of the typical CCM "celebrities" that the industry loved to produce. Her music did not have a lot of gimmicks, and at times even felt simple. Her lyrics were way more honest and true-to-heart than what you typically heard on CCM radio. It's likely why she never seemed to fit in to the Christian music scene or get nominated for too many Dove Awards. On the contrary, Sara has been a risk-taker, usually erring on the side of art she can be proud to stand behind rather than making music to appease the masses (which I know she would be capable of doing). These songwriting convictions have put Sara Groves in a category where many people (including fellow songwriters) consider her to be one of the more brilliant and respected arists today.Last month, Sara released The Collection, which will allow new listeners an easy entryway into the amazing catalog of music she has produced in her 15-year music career (including 24 best-of favorites and 4 new tracks). I decided to go through her discography and pick out my top 12 favorite Sara Grove's songs of all time -- and I share them now with you in countdown format.
12. "Less Like Scars" from All Right Here (2002). The world changed on September 11, 2001. Americans found themselves in a new reality. When the opening lines of this opening track stated, "It's been a hard year, but I'm climbing out of the rubble," it gave me permission to both acknowledge that the difficulties are real, and yet I can move forward and see the new thing that God is building. I can't think of a year where this song has stopped being true to me.
11. "You Are Wonderful" from Tell Me What You Know (2007). It was the decade of big worship anthems & worship music became big business (with all the pros & cons that come with that). This song came at a time when I really needed my hope in praise songwriting to be renewed. Well, when you start a song with the words, "I have been talking to You since I was a little girl," it pretty much kills its corporate value. That's the beauty of this song: intimate, personal, and worshipful.
10. "Roll To The Middle" from The Other Side of Something (2004). Some of Sara's best songs are about marriage. Feel the power of this line: "This is how I know our love, and this is when I feel its power, here in the absence of it, this is my darkest hour." There have been many nights in our marriage that have not ended well. Conflict is inevitable, and this song has been a heaven-sent conviction into my soul - Sara singing honestly about laying down one's pride through one simple act.
9. "A Lot Like Me" from Station Wagon (2005). This is a prayerful tune sung over a child that has connected deeply with young parents (myself included). We often see ourselves (even our flaws) in our children, which is cause enough for panic. But Sara turns this into a gentle moment of reflection and prayer: "And for you and myself I will pray, let our weakness become our strength."
8. "Mystery" from Invisible Empires (2011). When I was in my teens and 20s, I really wanted to grasp a deeper knowledge of God. In recent years, I have learned that the deeper you explore the things of God the more mysterious and ungraspable they become. But that's a good thing. God is much bigger than my mental limitations. "My brow is furrowed trying to see things clear... [I'll] wait for mystery to rise up and meet me."
7. "Painting Pictures of Egypt" from Conversations (2001). This is a song for those times when trusting God isn't easy. We are at times like the recently exiled Hebrews who grumbled to Moses about wanting to go back into slavery because they were confused or impatient about where God was taking them. As Sara admits in this song, "I've been painting pictures of Egypt, leaving out what it lacks, because the future is so hard and I want to go back."
6. "When The Saints" from Tell Me What You Know (2007). I am convinced that this song will still be in my top playlist 30 years from now and will continue to hold its own. The military-style drum rolls, the choir, the gospel vibe will all help this song to remain timeless musically. And the call in this song to have a more courageous faith will always be needed in my life. "I see the young missionary and the angry spear. I see his family returning with no trace of fear."
5. "You Are The Sun" from Add To The Beauty (2005). I am a sucker for some good astrological metaphors. This song is a good reminder that we cannot take credit for the good, the beauty, the love that we give. We often think we are sharing light from within our core being, but Sara paints a different picture: "I am the moon with no light of my own, still You have made me to shine. And as I glow in this cold dark night, I know I can't be a light unless I turn my face to You."
4. "Every Minute" from All Right Here (2002). This is not an easy song for me to listen to. It's one of the most beautiful songs about friendship I know. The reason why it has connected so deeply with me is because finding community this deep has only come sparingly in recent years. But it is still the cry of my heart: "I wish all the people I love the most could gather in one place, and know each other and love each other well."
3. "What I Thought I Wanted" from The Other Side of Something (2004). When I think about what I am thankful for, I usually first go to the places in life where everything seems to be going well. But Sara sings, "I keep wanting You to be fair, but that's not what You said. I keep wanting certain answers to these prayers, but that's not what You said." She shares how the brokenness in life can usher us into a spirit of gratefulness. I want that too.
2. "From This One Place" from Fireflies and Songs (2009). Sara sings with incredible vulnerability about going through a season where she was riddled with panic attacks. "I don't know what's making me so afraid - tiny cloud over my head, heavy and gray with a hint of dread. And I don't like to feel this way..." When this song came out, it was on the heels of my wife's own season dealing with panic attacks. Let's just say it spoke to us deeply.
1. "It Might Be Hope" from Tell Me What You Know (2007). Because I love ALL these songs, I didn't know what would land at #1 until after I mapped it all out. This takes the cake because of two big reasons. First, I love the message of this song - that no matter how dark the situation, there is always cause to hope. Second, the song has a powerful musical twist, starting quite acoustic, then launching into a mighty orchestral melody, showcasing the powerful punch that hope can bring.
Which of these songs are your favorites? Which of your favorite Sara Groves' songs were not on this list? We would love to read your thoughts in the comment section below. Join us for UTR Episode #253 with Sara as our guest of honor all hour. And right now you can enter to win the entire catalog of all of Sara's music.