|Originally published in The Papyrus,
the Greenville College student newspaper, on Feb. 15, 1996
They were just some normal Greenville College students.
They drank from their BIG MO's. Various women dated and, yes, rejected them.
Then they scraped together some money and recorded a demo. Then they entered and won the Gospel Music Association's new artist search.
Nevertheless, my friends and I remained cynical. The CCM major was a joke to us. No one ever got a record deal with a degree - even one that cost $64,000.
Well, their CD was actually pretty good. I went to the release party, mostly out of boredom, and ended up buying one.
But my skepticism persisted. I thought they'd drop out, move to Nashville, get signed to some obscure upstart label and make enough at music to supplement their jobs at Kinkoís Copies. Well, three out of four ainít bad.
Jars of Clay currently has the second best selling Christian album, according to the CCM Update. They are outselling the latest from Michael W. Smith for whom they open a week from today in St. Louis.
Jars appeared in a swimming pool on the cover of the October CCM magazine, which declared them "THE YEARíS BIGGEST SPLASH." They even put out a four-song Christmas EP.
You can buy their caps, T-shirts, posters and "The Collectorís Edition CD-ROM," which features "live concert, clips, exclusive interviews, audio selections from the ĎFrailí demo, and bonus Jars of Clay screensavers."
You can order an 8 x 10 of them for $3.95 or an autographed 8 x 10 for just $20! Can the fully poseable Dan Haseltine doll be far behind?
Yet, it seems like the Jugs of Mud guys are not quite content to remain the darlings of the Christian music ghetto. Without changing their blatantly Christian lyrics, the former Tuesday Night Live performers are attempting what DC Talk is currently doing with "Jesus Freak" ó crossing into mainstream music.
Silvertone Records is now distributing Jarsí self-titled debut to a surprisingly receptive secular market.
Modern rock stations, including St. Louis powerhouse KPNT, are playing the song "Flood." The March issue of CMJ New Music Monthly includes the song on its accompanying sampler CD and gives a glowing review of the Jarsí album: "The sound is especially winning when twined to the close harmonies that make the bandís emotional pop seem positively hymnal."
Jesus said, "No prophet is ever accepted in his hometown" (John 4:24 NIV). Well, Jesusí words apply to the Jars. Despite their unprecedented success, many Greenville students remain the groupís harshest critics.
According to friends at Oral Roberts University, Jars is the most popular group there. People have offered Sam and John more than $300 for their "Frail" demos, but they refuse to sell them.
When I see them on breaks, they often sport the Jars caps and T-shirts. I laugh and tell them, "If you wore those at Greenville, people would make fun of you."
Sure, admissions representatives and the music department brag about the groupís success. The alumni publication, The Record, frequently boasts about Jars, too. Imagine how these offices would have exploited Steve, Dan and Charlie if they had actually graduated.
Maybe GC should run the following advertisement: Come to GC. Drop out. Become famous.
The Agapť staff likes Jars, too. They put Jars on the festival poster, but now it turns out that Jars will not be appearing and will probably be in Europe at the time.
"Sorry kids, Jars couldnít make it, but give a warm Agapť welcome to Norman and the Nomads."
Oh well, maybe we can get them for commencement.