Sunday, 19 October 2008

Rock'n'Roll Jesus

It's one of rock'n'roll's most worn-out cliches that the Devil has the best tunes. But as this selection highlights, Jesus has his fair share of great songs too.

MP3: Neutral Milk Hotel - The King of Carrot Flowers Parts Two & Three

There's something slightly menacing about this song, the second track on Neutral Milk Hotel's masterpiece In The Aeroplane Over Sea. In fact, I've found that singing the opening aloud after a few pale ales does indeed scare people.

MP3: The Broken Family Band - Walking Back To Jesus Part Two

I remember seeing the BFB some years ago and singer Steve Adams saying that their next record would be all covers of their favourite songs about Christ. As it turned out Jesus Songs only had one cover, Neutral Milk Hotel's King of Carrot Flowers Parts Two & Three. The other songs aren't all about the Lord either though this one is.

MP3: Jim White - If Jesus Drove A Motor Home

Jesus is never far away in Jim White's world. If you've never seen his wondrous film Searching For The Wrong-Eyed Jesus, stop reading and purchase or rent the DVD immediately. You will not be disappointed. I'm sure I've read that the Jesus in this song is actually a real person in White's old hometown of Pensacola, Florida.

MP3: Woody Guthrie - Jesus Christ

The most obvious example of Woody Guthrie's combination of Christianity and socialism. See also Christ For President on Mermaid Avenue, Billy Bragg & Wilco's superb album of previously unrecorded Guthrie songs.

MP3: Tom Waits - Chocolate Jesus (introduction)

MP3: Tom Waits - Chocolate Jesus

Like Jim White, there are no shortage of Jesus references in Tom Waits' songs. It was a toss up between this and Jesus Gonna Be Here, but I opted for Chocolate Jesus to share the humorous preamble. This version is from VH1's Storytellers in 1999. Note: Wikipedia has a fascinating article about Abba-Zabas (see also Captain Beefheart).

MP3: Hayes Carll - She Left Me For Jesus

At Hayes Carll's recent gig at the Luminaire the Texan seemed genuinely surprised by the enthusiastic response that met this wry song. He might even have called the assembled baldies "heathens". There's a nice acoustic version of the song on the Later... with Jools Holland website by the way.

Here endeth the lesson. I hope you enjoyed the songs. As usual, comments and suggestions for further listening are most welcome. Amen.

Buy These Artists
Neutral Milk Hotel: Amazon | 7digital
The Broken Family Band: Amazon | 7digital
Jim White: Amazon | 7digital
Woody Guthrie: Amazon | 7digital
Tom Waits: Amazon | 7digital
Hayes Carll: Amazon | 7digital


Sam Jordison said...

Praise Be! That first track is awesome. I've never heard Netural Milk Hotel... Will seek out that album right away...

Looking forward to listening to the rest. Thanks Nigel!

Sam Jordison said...

Does My Sweet Lord count by the way?

Sam Jordison said...

I have forgiven Jesus - Morrissey
Plastic Jesus - Ernie Marrs, Paul Newman et al.
The excellent Wake Up Dead Man by (cough) U2 has some good Jesus lyrics.
Fear Of Drowning by British Sea Power has perhaps an even better Jesus opening than that Neutral Milk Hotel track.

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