Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tom Waits - "Jesus Gonna Be Here"
from Bone Machine (1992)

Bone Machine

If I remember the story correctly, Tom Waits had been traveling through Mississippi and had heard some of the porch singers clamoring out Gospel songs from their porches and inspiring him to write the following:

Well, Jesus will be here
Be here soon
he's gonna cover us up with leaves
With a blanket from the moon
With a promise and a vow
And a lullaby for my brow
Jesus gonna be here
Be here soon

Well I'm just gonna wait here
I don't have to shout
I have no reason and
I have no doubt
I'm gonna get myself
Unfurled from this mortal coiled up world
Because Jesus gonna be here
Be here soon

I got to keep my eyes open
So I can see my Lord
I'm gonna watch the horizon
For a brand new Ford

I can hear him rolling on down the lane
I said Hollywood be thy name
Jesus gonna be
Gonna be here soon

Well I've been faithful
And I've been so good
Except for drinking
But he new that I would
I'm gonna leave this place better
Than the way I found it was
And Jesus gonna be here
Be here soon

It starts out sounding very authentic then as the song goes on more to Waits' personality get's interjected with lines like "unfurled from this mortal coiled up world" or "Hollywood be thy name." This song moves from spiritual - Jesus is going to be here someday soon; to a jab on those placing their faith elsewhere - in their Ford or in Hollywood; to Tom wondering about his own life - except for a bit of drinking I've been faithful Lord.

Check out You Tube for a live rendition of this song.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Lou Reed/Blind Boys of Alabama: Jesus (Official Video)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Game Theory - "Like a Girl Jesus"
Big Shot Chronicles (1986)

"Brightness as pure as December sunshine
And like a girl Jesus she makes it mine
Without a doubt, puts herself down on the line
And like a girl Jesus she's undefined
Life without end, she ignores linear time
And like a girl Jesus she's doing fine."

Scott Miller (Game Theory, Loud Family) introduces us to the "girl Jesus" in this lilting connector song from the Game Theory release "Big Shot Chronicles." Why use Jesus here? Is this girl a savior? Saving the author from self abuse? Men sometimes seek salvation in a woman. As if companionship and sex can save. Men come back to women seeking forgiveness. Forgiveness, salvation, comfort, healing - are all things people may seek from a mate; also something they seek in Jesus (the Christ). Where there's a differenc is that the savior of the song is "undefined." The "man Jesus" - Jesus the Christ - I'd argue is very well-defined in the Bible. Also, unlike the girl Jesus who "makes it mine" - the "man Jesus" makes us His.
Soundgarden - "Jesus Christ Pose"
from "Badmotorfinger" (1991)


The Jesus Christ pose that Chris Cornell refers to in this song is about anyone who is puffed up on fame, faith, ego - enough that they want to play God (thus donning the "Jesus Christ post." According to the band, the song was not meant to be anti-Christian, rather they were aiming it at some key celebrities who were abusing their status and the use of Christian symbology in the media and advertising. There's also the crucifix image which in 1991 one was just coming into vogue, but now we see around the necks of so many movie stars, rappers and the like. The video was actually pulled from MTV because its own use (and/or abuse) of the cross. [Aside: This is interesting in light of the recent hubbub on Madonna's use of the crucifix in her performance. However she is blatently attacking the Catholic faith in light of her new embrace of Kabbala.] Back to the Soundgarden song, the lyrics speak to the effect of:

And you stare at me in your jesus christ pose.
Arms held out like you've been carrying a load.
And you swear to me you dont want to be my slave.
But youre staring at me like I need to be saved.

The question here is saved by what?
Blind Boys of Alabama - "Jesus"
from "I'm a Soldier in the Army of the Lord" (2004)

I was going through the CD bins at the local library and saw a Blind Boys release with the song "Jesus" on it. I was hoping this would be their rendition of Lou Reed's song - it is not. However, I do think the chorus is interesting as it makes a statement of a savior found - as opposed to Lou Reed's searching for a savior. The chorus goes:

Jesus - He's got what I want.
He's got what I need.
Only Jesus can satisfy me.

The language of the Blind Boys is Black Gospel. They speak in broad terms how they were, "living in a world of sin" when "Jesus came and took me in" and now they don't need anything else but "Jesus."

I'd recommend the Blind Boys CD with Ben Harper, "There Will Be A Light" (2004) as a CD worthy of some praise.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lou Reed/Blind Boys of Alabama: Jesus (David Letterman Appearance)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Velvet Underground - "Jesus"
from "The Velvet Underground" (1969)

The Velvet Underground

Lou Reed and Mo Tucker make an understated cry for a savior in the song "Jesus" which appears the self titled VU (Velvet Underground) disc. The lyric is simple:

Jesus, Jesus, help me find my proper place;
Jesus, Jesus help me find my proper place;
Help me in my weakness 'cos Im falling out of grace;
Jesus, Jesus

I wonder whether Lou Reed was seeking something at this time in his life. A few years later in his song "Busload of Faith" he expresses a loss of faith in God, man and everything esle. Interestingly enough he recently performed/recorded this same song "Jesus" with the Blind Boys of Alabama. So Lou, I'm wondering where is your faith today? It is a beautiful and simple refrain which I'd highly recommend checking out. The entire CD really is a master work worth paying attention to lyrically and musically in light of today's postmodern cultural ideal.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Velvet Underground: Jesus (Recording)