“I Totally Despised You”

One of life’s great pleasures for me is discovering new music. Now, mind you, this is rarely new in the sense of being a new group which has just broken onto the scene; in most cases, I’m discovering music, artists, or groups which have been around for some time, unbeknownst to me.

One such artist I have recently run across is Jonny Lang. One of his songs, Lie to Me, caught my ear on XM radio, and I jotted it down and subsequently made a beeline for iTunes. Turns out, this guy is nothing short of extraordinary. He starts playing the guitar at age 12, releases his first album at 13, and his second album — his first solo and signature blues work, Lie to Me — is released at age 15, and goes triple platinum. He blows away critics with a voice which, at age 15, sounds like a hardened blues player three times his age. It’s gutter-grating gritty, his phrasing and expression incredibly innovative, and the guitar playing is evocative of such blues greats as Stevie Ray Vaughn, with exquisitely blended influences of soul, R&B, Motown, and gospel music. Before he turns 20, he’s touring as the warm-up band for Aerosmith, Sting, Jeff Beck, Clapton, the Rolling Stones, and B. B. King.

Not bad for a kid with a guitar.

However, life in the fast lane is rarely kind. Many older and more mature troubadours than he have fallen to its brutal revenge — think Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, Brian Jones, and a host of others — to whom the Roman candle of fame proved both furious and lethal. Drugs, sex, and rock ‘n roll often prove a highway to hell, and Jonny Lang was driving that freeway with pedal to the metal.

Then something changed — drastically, almost cataclysmically. In what can only be termed an extraordinary conversion experience, his entire life is transformed, bringing with it his music, immediately terminating his addiction to alcohol and drugs, and changing his very face and disposition.

I was not thinking about God, not at all. In the middle of our conversation, from that same spot that I felt something had hit me earlier, I just felt something start welling up, just burning in me, and it came up out of my throat. It was like I was throwing up, and the name “Jesus” just came out of my mouth. I just said “Jesus!”

Interviewer: Mid conversation?

Lang: Yeah. And when I said “Jesus,” my whole body started shaking. Haylie was looking right at me (laughing).

This is the part of my story where I’ve just said, “Lord, if I’m ever doing interviews, what should I say?” People are going to think I’m insane, you know? Nevertheless, it’s what happened. I knew it was Jesus immediately from the moment I started shaking. It was like he just came up and introduced himself to me. I remember him saying, “You don’t have to have this if you don’t want it.” And I said, “No, I want it.”

I kept shaking, and I knew when it was done that I had been completely set free of all my addictions, and I knew that I didn’t have to smoke or drink or do drugs anymore. All I could do was fall on the ground, and I gave my life to him right there. I was just in shock. I thought, “I totally despised you, and you just did this to me!”

Check out his music video for “Lie to Me”:
 

 
Now, take a look at his face, and watch him perform after his experience. It is almost like he has been replaced by another human being.
 

 
Which, in a very real sense, he has.
 

 

 
You can read about his rather extraordinary conversion and the changes it made in his life here. Check it out.

7 thoughts on ““I Totally Despised You”

  1. Wonderful catch! Thanks.
    Makes me I wish I had lots of regular readers so I could send some this way.

    Speaking of XM radio, my only exposure is Bob Edwards Sunday which is aired for two hours on our local Public Radio Station. I’m very impressed with the range of guests and the man’s breadth of knowledge.

    We seem surrounded by an ocean of gifted people who, thanks to media, are more accesible every day. My problem is finding enough time to appreciate them all.

  2. The process of how God chooses people to do His work, and how people choose or don’t choose to take Him up on His offer, is really interesting to me.

  3. Bob, this is an extraordinary post and tremendous inspiration to what the power of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can do. Thank you for posting.

  4. I believe I saw him at a Saturday evening concert in Nashville during Summer NAAM 2002 . He positively burned on the guitar. He is a phenomenal talent.

    It is awesome that Jesus has gotten ahold of him and now he can have a phenomenal life (and forever).

    How cool is that?

  5. Magnificant music.

    Jesus siezes hold of us each in His own way. An affirmation that is by His grace and will tht we are saved, not by our own choosing or timing.

  6. Take a look at early Stevie Ray Vaughan videos and then the later ones after he gave up the shit. You’ll see the same differences. Amazing. Most notabaly his Austin City Limits appearences.

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