Dave Clark / Don Koch / Dan Dean
Originally recorded by Phillips, Craig and Dean, it's hard to believe it has been over 20 years since it went #1. This will always be a significant song because of the story behind it. The year was 1995, and even though I didn't know the guys in Phillips Craig & Dean, they were already making their mark on radio. Don Koch and I had gotten a call about possibly writing with them and we were excited about the opportunity.
The first chance to hear them live was at a concert in Westerville Ohio, and I remember being hooked immediately. It was years later that I found out this song was Dan Dean's first time to co-write. Evidently, he was as nervous as I was which is hard to believe. There was also some pre-story that helps lay the foundation for this significant co-write.
Several years earlier Don and I had taken a song we had written to our publisher, John Barker. He wasn't as excited about it as we were and responded by quoting a line from a new writer he had met as the standard Don and I should strive to reach. It became a running joke every time we took in a song from then on. Years later we realized that writer was Dan Dean which made it even funnier.
The other piece of the puzzle that factors into the story was that evidently Dan Dean heard Don and I sing at a GMA writer's showcase and was moved by the song enough to save an idea just in case he ever got to write with those two writers. That idea was Mercy Came Running. I remember where we were when Dan started explaining the concept. It sounded so theologically heavy; I knew radio would never play it. I remember thinking, "This from the same group who sang Turn Up the Radio?"
And THEN... he said, "When it gets to the end of the chorus it needs to say, "When I could not reach mercy, mercy came running to me." WOW! I was all the way on board and it felt like the song wrote itself over the next few hours. As always, Don Koch knew exactly what to do with melody and the rest is history! The best part of the song is how true it was in my own life. The best part of the story is the friendship that I treasure with these writers all these years later.