Rahul Sharma (Editor)

A God That Can Dance

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Length  57:23
Artist  Paul Delph
Genre  Pop
Producers  Paul Delph, Paul Marcus
A God That Can Dance (1996)  -
Release date  2003
Label  Paul Delph
A God That Can Dance httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediaenthumba

Released  1996 (private release) 2003 (official release)

A God That Can Dance is the final and only available album from Los Angeles-based musician Paul Delph with the saxophone accompaniment of Doug Webb.



The album was independently and privately released to family and friends in 1996. A God That Can Dance chronicles the Delph's struggle with HIV/AIDS and draws its title from a quote attributed in the liner notes to Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900):

"I would believe only in a God that knew how to dance." — Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Writing and Recording

The album was produced by Delph and Paul Marcus, who also co-wrote the majority of the material with Delph. Marcus had worked with Delph throughout the 1980s, where they formed a synthesizer duo and had toured with Jimmie Spheeris. The album was engineered by Delph and Jim McMahon.

A God That Can Dance was recorded at Magic Bus Studio, Magic Studio, and The Aspen Studio, whilst it was mastered by Wally Traugott at Capitol Mastering, Hollywood California.

Both "Eternity Spin" and "The Dance at the End of Time" was written by American singer-songwriter Jimmie Spheeris, who Delph worked with in 1984, shortly before his death. Spheeris had made a long overdue return to the studio in 1983 and 1984 to record a new album, produced by Delph, however he was killed by a drunken driver in 1984. The album, later titled Spheeris wasn't released commercially until 2000. "Eternity Spin" was originally found on Spheeris' 1975 album The Dragon is Dancing.

"Sombadine", written by Delph, is an instrumental track. The almost eight-minute track "Breath of Life" features vocal from Delph's friend/professional vocalist Vida Vierra, who at a benefit concert for David Torn in May 1992, performed with Delph, a cover of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush's 1986 song "Don't Give Up".

In "Mad at God", the second verse speaks of Spheeris, where Delph questions whether his best friend had to die, relating to the fatal motorcycle crash Spheeris was involved with.

"Mama Don't Cry" is a song directed to Delph's parents.

The track "Kyrie" was written by Medieval French poet and composer Guillaume de Machaut.

The song "Let Yourself Go" was used in the final scene of the 1999 US romantic comedy film starring Kevin Pollak, Deal of a Lifetime.

In 2003, to promote the release of the album, a radio broadcast on KOOP FM 91.7 in Austin, Texas, featured album personnel Paul Marcus, Vida Vierra, Doug Lunn and Andy Markley. Interviewer Taylor Cage, speaking of the songwriting, asked if the album was done just before Delph died, where Marcus stated "Paul and I worked closely on the album, we'd been writing songs for about fifteen years, and he found out he was HIV positive and then finally told me. Slowly but surely we started writing these songs that were sort of a song cycle, and we didn't really realise that until about half way through, but it was basically documenting what he went through and what we were going through. It was very exciting, incredibly sad, and always powerful - what had happened - all the recording that went on during the sessions. Most of it happened in this Magic Bus, somebody had left a 24-track recording studio on a bus in Malibu, and said Paul, here you can use this."

Marcus recalled the song "Mama Don't Cry" during the interview, where he stated "I remember when he wrote "Mama Don't Cry", it came out of a conversation where I said 'you gotta tell your folks, you've got to tell them', if he wanted to protect them as he's a sweet guy who doesn't want anyone to hurt. And he did, and one of his ways of telling his mother was to write the song."

Three days after Delph's death, his mother June Delph published a letter based on Paul's final week. In the letter she wrote "Throughout the week, we played music for Paul - "A God That Can Dance," and in particular, "Breath of Life," also Jimmie Spheeris' CD that Paul put together of Jimmie's renditions of favorite songs."

Official Release

Growing interest in Delph's legacy later caused the album to be officially released in 2003. This issue was digitally remastered, with a package design that features a 'mini-poster' CD insert including all lyrics, new artwork, credits and updated biography information. After the album's release, five additional Paul Delph collections were stated to be currently slated for release on CD although these have not yet appeared.

All sales of the album were to benefit the Paul Delph Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Today, the album remains available via CD and download at major sites such as iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.

For the KOOP FM 91.7 interview in 2003, Cage asked the personnel what it was about Delph's music that made them get together and want to release the album. The reply from Marcus was "It just had to be done, it's astonishing work, it's an amazing album. There's an incredible lineup of musicians, the material is just stunning, it was languishing and it needed to be documented, preserved and made available to a new generation of listeners."

The album's artwork was designed by Billy Vaughn.

Critical Reception

Allmusic.com gave the album five out of five stars, writing "The important new CD, A God That Can Dance, takes the big view. Dealing with the struggle to survive in a surprisingly upbeat and life-affirming fashion, this triumphant disc is the best example yet that in facing death, one can also confront the larger issues of life and ultimately find peace. The result is a masterful album about immortality at once intensely personal, yet broad in its sheer pop appeal. A mix of prayerful, comforting ballads and rockers dealing with tragedy, surrender, rescue and the Great Unknown, A God That Can Dance is a testament to faith in eternal life, a look past suffering, and an embracing of the infinite." The review added "Delph has crafted a big pop/rock sound reminiscent of U2 and Tears for Fears, blended with the stirring vocal soul of Sting and Peter Gabriel, with a little Avalon-era Roxy Music thrown into the mix. The production is slick and engaging with vibrant, passionate, melodic tracks performed by a crack backup ensemble. Delph has created some of the most upbeat, positive, life-affirming and spiritual rock music you may ever hear. Songs dealing with anger, sorrow, and finding strength lead to a poetic and otherworldly, new age-style climax with the pensive album closers "Breath of Life" and "The Dance at the End of Time." Delph makes death into a beautiful thing by removing the fear and replacing it with faith and hope. It's a remarkable journey for modern ears and hearts."

David McClanahan gave the album an A++, writing "A true Celebration of Life. This is a powerful, deeply moving CD that will have you singing, smiling and dancing; it will also bring tears to your eyes, and cherishment to your heart. "A God That Can Dance" is a wonderful, unique CD bridging a wide range of styles, textures and emotions. Listening to this CD is like walking through a huge tapestry, a sonic landscape that covers the entire range of human experience. There are songs that are a dancing celebration of life, full of joy and often ecstatic. Other songs are hard rocking, intensely angry, questioning, seeking answers to the painful, horrific events of the human experience. There are songs expressing the deepest feelings of love, gratitude and the cherishment of life. Moments that are mystical, pensive, etheric, timeless. There are moments that are deeply touching and many of great beauty. Overall, the message is a positive, uplifting hymn of hope and a deep belief in Immortality. Written and recorded when Paul knew he was dying of AIDS; the lyrics are profound, the music is nothing short of genius, the resulting feeling is one of hope, faith, love and the cherishment of a life where Paul could make such music for a God that can dance."


  • Vocals, keyboards - Paul Delph
  • Guitar, keyboards, backing vocals - Paul Marcus
  • Guitar - John Goodsall
  • Guitar - Rick Blair
  • Guitar - Dave Fisk
  • Bass - Doug Lunn
  • Guitar - Jonathan McEuen
  • Backing Vocals - Vida Vierra
  • Saxophone - Doug Webb
  • Percussion - David Mendez
  • Sampled Vocals - Andy Markley
  • Clay Pot - MeHi Manoliu
  • Producers - Paul Delph, Paul Marcus
  • Engineers - Paul Delph, Jim McMahon
  • Masterer - Wally Traugott
  • Art Direction and Digital Imaging - Andy Markley (Art101.com)
  • Cover Photo - Billy Vaugn
  • Photo of Paul (Inner Sleeve): Lee Varis
  • Graphic Support - WCB Graphics (Bill Beckman and Jim Long)
  • Songs

    1Mad at God4:55
    2The Good Days are Better (But the Bad Days are Worse)4:22
    3Mamma Don't Cry5:19


    A God That Can Dance Wikipedia