My Signature Song: 'Jesus Dropped The Charges'

Aug 24, 2019
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Sometimes there's a song so important to you it almost becomes a part of your identity, your signature song. Sue Cochrane, a former judge from Minneapolis, has one.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE O'NEAL TWINS' SONG, "JESUS DROPPED THE CHARGES")

SUE COCHRANE: It's a medicine that has no side effects, and it's guaranteed to work every time I put it on - "Jesus Dropped The Charges."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JESUS DROPPED THE CHARGES")

THE O'NEAL TWINS: (Singing) I was guilty...

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Guilty.

THE O'NEAL TWINS: (Singing) ...Of all the charges...

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Charges.

THE O'NEAL TWINS: (Singing) ...Doomed and disgraced.

SIMON: This song, released in the early '80s by the O'Neal Twins, has helped Sue Cochrane come to terms with her faith and her life.

COCHRANE: Things started out real good in my view - nice house - I mean, literally had a white picket fence.

SIMON: Judge Cochrane went to Catholic school, where she was taught about Jesus' redeeming love. But her home life was not filled with love. Her mother had a serious illness. Her father drank heavily, and he was violent.

COCHRANE: I would pray for peace in our family. I'd pray for mom to get well. Nothing helped. So I just felt there was nothing there and quit trying. And I hate to say it. I vowed never to be like my dad, but I started drinking to ease this pain.

SIMON: She got sober after many years with the support of friends and family. A gift from her brother helped.

COCHRANE: He gave me a VHS cassette of this documentary called "Say Amen, Somebody." And this one song just jumped out and went right into my heart.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JESUS DROPPED THE CHARGES")

THE O'NEAL TWINS: (Singing) But Jesus...

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Jesus.

THE O'NEAL TWINS: (Singing) ...With his special love...

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Special love.

THE O'NEAL TWINS: (Singing) ...Saved me by his grace. He pleaded.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Pleaded.

THE O'NEAL TWINS: (Singing) And he pleaded.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Pleaded.

THE O'NEAL TWINS: (Singing) He pleaded my case.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Vocalizing).

THE O'NEAL TWINS AND UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Jesus dropped the charges.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Vocalizing).

COCHRANE: This song is like my dream come true - that you can fall down the ladder as far as it goes or be doomed and disgraced. And you can be given a fresh start.

SIMON: Sue Cochrane married. She had three boys and eventually became a judge in family court. She oversaw some tough cases there and says her own life experience and this song's spirit of forgiveness and hope had an impact on her work.

COCHRANE: I'd been through violence and poverty and parents dying young. So I would say I was like a judge who didn't judge people. I was accused sometimes from colleagues of being too nice.

SIMON: In her 40s, at what she calls the peak of her life, Sue Cochrane was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She went through treatment. "Jesus Dropped The Charges" went with her.

COCHRANE: I went from the VHS to the CD and then to the iPhone at some point. But the song became a daily meditation for me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JESUS DROPPED THE CHARGES")

THE O'NEAL TWINS: (Singing) He picked me up...

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Picked me up.

THE O'NEAL TWINS: (Singing) ...Turned me around...

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Turned me around.

THE O'NEAL TWINS: (Singing) ...Gave me a brand-new song.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Vocalizing).

THE O'NEAL TWINS AND UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Jesus dropped the charges.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Vocalizing).

SIMON: Sue's cancer stayed in remission for almost a decade. About eight years ago, it came back - this time, as stage 4 - terminal.

COCHRANE: I don't know how long I have. My boys are still - all three - under age 24. And I thought I'd do all these other things with them before I died and take them each on a special trip alone. And I was going to write them each a journal or book so I could cover all these years when I'm not here. And I've done none of that. But I realized that, like this song, no matter what, we have love. We just live every day. And that's the theme for me now - this unconditional love that you hear in that song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JESUS DROPPED THE CHARGES")

THE O'NEAL TWINS AND UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Case dismissed. Case dismissed, saved by grace. He dropped the charges...

SIMON: That's Sue Cochrane of Minneapolis, sharing her signature song, "Jesus Dropped The Charges" by the O'Neal Twins.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JESUS DROPPED THE CHARGES")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Dropped the charges.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Dropped the charges.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Vocalizing).

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Dropped the charges.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Vocalizing).

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Dropped the charges.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Vocalizing). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.