Friday, April 10, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special If We're All One, Who Needs You? Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental on-call groinologist gentleman's gentleman Fah Lo Suee and I will be travelling to Minnesota to sit shiva for former Senator Norm Coleman's political career. It also being Passover, I'm sure large quanties of Manischewitz (2009 is a very good vintage, I'm told) will be consumed, if not necessarily with gusto.

In any case, posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic for a few days.

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best Post-Elvis Song or Album Referencing God(s), Religion or Spirituality Generally

Self-explanatory, I think, so no arbitrary rules this time. Except none of that Creed crap, obviously.

Okay, here's my totally top of my head Top Five:

5. One of Us -- Joan Osborne



I happen to think this song is just ineffably touching, but I'm aware that some of our more cynical commenters disagree.

4. Rough God Goes Riding -- Van Morrison



Because I couldn't find a video of "Into the Mystic." Just be glad I didn't nominate "Veedon Fleece."

3. Dear God -- XTC



Sacrilege! And they made some poor little kid sing the thing, the bastards!

2. Jesus -- The Velvet Underground



I don't know about you, but I always thought -- given their various backgrounds -- that they were being ironic. Damn thing certainly sounds sincere, though.

And the number one ode to something bigger than all of us, c'mon, you're thinking exactly the same thing, obviously is --

1. Fire -- The Crazy World of Arthur Brown



"I am the God of Hellfire...and I bring you -- FIRE!!!" Because nothing says communing with the infinite more than a singer with a bunsen burner on his head.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: Worst Film Titles Ever!!! -- is now up over at Box Office. As always if you could leave a comment over there, I'd be your best friend.]

[h/t Laura]

36 comments:

geor3ge said...

I've grown fonder of "One of Us," but I still think it's one of the weaker tracks of a spectacular record.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

“Rosary clutched in his hand, he died with tubes up his nose …” We Call Upon the Author to Explain, N. Cave & Bad Seeds. And I have to say if you were feeling more magnanimous you would’ve sent me a no-prize for my “God is a Concept” guesstimate, but hey nobody’s cutting me any slack this Easter Week; it’s a dog eat dog world. :-)

Peter said...

Who did "Signs"? You know, "The sign says you got to have a member ship card to get inside - huh!" Was it the Ashtrakhan Sleeve? Somehow I don't think so. Zager and Evans? No, they did "In the Year 2525," which was pretty lame even by the standards of Erie, PA in 1969.

How about "You Gotta Serve Somebody"? Or any of a half-dozen or more great gospel/rock songs by BD. I'm partial to "What Can I Do For You"? Also "Solid Rock" and "Shot of Love."

Then there's "Jesus is Just Alright" (Byrds version, natch) which struck me at the time as incredibly subversive. They also did a gospel tune called "Oil in My Lamp" that I loved, despite their arrangement not really coming together. It actually works best as a kind of Dave Edmonds-style chugging rocker.

I never heard that VU track before and it makes me want to rethink them. That's a really good song.

But this British I-hate-God-because-of-World-War-I-and-we-lost-the-Empire crap bores the shit out of me. I feel a blog entry coming on. Last one at peterspencer.com's a secular humanist!

Noam Sane said...

I'm aware that some of our more cynical commenters disagree.

I resemble that remark.

nothing says communing with the infinite more than a singer with a bunsen burner on his head.

I'm not really a LOL person, but LOL.

Aretha's Spirit in the Dark always knocked me out, and I usually turn up Spirit in the Sky if it comes on. The sound of that guitar was really something blasting out of an AM radio in the mid-70s.

Todd Rundgren, "God Said," from Liars. Great record.

Noam Sane said...

And yeah, Gotta Serve Somebody - great choice - but Mavis Staples owns that song...I found her version on some collection of his tunes by various blues artist, and it just kills...you've gotta hear it.

I'll go away now.

Dave said...

5. Maybe it isn't fair to put a gospel song in here, but even as an irreligious teenager, I was moved by the Edwin Hawkins Singers' "Oh Happy Day." I bought the album and was immediately hooked by "To My Father's House," which struck me as rock and roll as much as gospel. I can't find a video of the original (I much prefer the arrangement), but here's a live TV appearance featuring the extraordinary Elaine Kelly): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxtGRab3cxU

4. "One of Us" (I'm with you on this one, Steve")

3. "God Only Knows" (not really a song about religion, but it's so beautiful that it's a religious experience)

2. "Timer" (I don't claim to be able to decipher Laura Nyro's lyrics, but even before the chorus kicks in, it's pretty clear that this is a song about God) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYIKBH9z7SU

1. "Save the Children/God Is Love" from Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." From despair to faith in a six-minute trip. To me, this is the high point of one of my favorite albums.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1tN0ZKnRgs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5jc9mY6v-U

megisi said...

Ghost Dance - Bill Miller

Wartime Prayers - Paul Simon

steve simels said...

Who Am Us Anyway?:

Sorry about the No-Prize thing-- didn't see you nailed it until after I posted Listomania, and at that point I needed to go to bed.

Consider yourself retroactively No-Prized, and me a very old guy.

:-)

FeralLiberal said...

A few easy ones:

Jethro Tull - Hymn 43 & Wind Up
ZZ Top - Jesus Just Left Chicago

An allegory:
XTC - Peter Pumpkinhead

And my personal fave:
Ian Hunter - God, Take 1

Gummo said...

"God" by John Lennon, of course.

Unfortunately, most of Dylan's god songs from his "Christian era" are just, well, bad songs. Simple-minded and vindictive, most of'em.

But "Covenant Woman" is quite pretty. And there's always "With God On Our Side."

And I always found "One of Us" too cloyingly cutesypoo by half.

I have to mention Patti Smith's version of "Gloria" for one of the most bracingly confrontational first lines in the history of music: "Jesus died for somebody's sins ... but not mine."

And speaking of Jethro Tull, their "Christmas Song."

FeralLiberal said...

A few more if I may;

Jimi Hendrix - And the Gods Made Love
The Beatles - Within You Without You & Tomorrow Never Knows
The Kinks - Big Sky

cthulhu said...

Obviously, the Who's Heaven and Hell, one of John Entwistle's best songs, shows the absurdities of the whole Christian god thing.

And I've always read Joan Osborne's One of Us as subversively anti-religious, so it goes down just fine with me.

Chris Whitley's Dust Radio, featuring the great line "My secret Jesus / and the Good Red Road".

And how about Lou Reed's My House, wherein the ghost of Delmore Schwartz takes up residence in Lou's house - one of the best songs off of his comeback album, "The Blue Mask".

Libby Spencer said...

Mock me if you must but I've always been fond of "What God Wants" by Roger Waters.

Noam Sane said...

...Bob Marley:

We're sick an tired of
your ism-skism game
Dyin 'n goin to heaven
in-a Jesus name, lord.
We know when we understand:
Almighty God is a living man.

Amen. From Get Up, Stand Up.

Jeff said...

God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind) - Randy Newman

mwg said...

Pixies' Monkey Gone to Heaven? Uh, well, never mind. Our host came up with my three best (only?) examples.

VU's Jesus ironic? Maybe. I like to look at it in the light of "Beginning to See the Light" and "I'm Set Free (To Find Another Illusion."

Gummo said...

I second Heaven and Hell, and God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind). Both fine skewerings of the Hallmark Card School of Piety.

Anonymous said...

Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

Anonymous said...

Highway To Hell - AC/DC

Anonymous said...

Sunrise - The Who

Eyeball - Peter Himmelman

Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground - Blind Willie Johnson

All My Tears - Julie Miller

Highway 61 - Bob Dylan

Shine A Light - Rolling Stones

Streets of Paradise - Richard & Linda Thompson

ROTP(lumber)

jackd said...

Atheism served straight up in the lyrics of a country blues tune: Robbie Fulks' God Isn't Real.

John Fowler said...

another few, I think not mentioned yet:

Divine Intervention - Matthew Sweet
another plug for the Girlfriend album

God's Children - the Kinks
more Ray Davies goodness

Tears of God - Los Lobos
from By the Light of the Moon
lovely song, afraid that I don't subscribe to the sentiment

John Saw That Number - Neko Case
from Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
I can't help but feel that many of Neko's songs have a spiritual dimension to them, perhaps it's just her voice and delivery though.

which brings up another topic - curious what folks think of Middle Cyclone. I haven't seen any discussion here. My initial response was not as quickly positive as with Fox Confessor, but I find I can't stop playing it now...

CoolSchool said...

Rolling Stones-Just Want to See His Face
"Then you don't want to walk and talk about Jesus,
You just want to see his face.
You don't want to walk and talk about Jesus,
You just want to see his face."
I echo Shine A Light-Exile is as close to gospel as the Stones got.
Finally, put me in the pro-One of Us camp.

The Kenosha Kid said...

This is Religion, parts I and II, Public Image Limited.

Astral Plane - Modern Lovers

Up Jumped the Devil - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Walking on the Water - Creedence, also Richard Hell & Voidoids

steve simels said...


John Fowler said...
another few, I think not mentioned yet:

Divine Intervention - Matthew Sweet
another plug for the Girlfriend album


I kid you not -- a stage version of that album is heading to Broadway. Same people who are doing the musical theater version of Green Day's American Idjit.

MBowen said...

A second for Robbie Fulks' "God Isn't Real".

Also, Graham Parker - "Don't Ask Me Questions" and "The End of Faith".

John Fowler said...

steve simels said...


I kid you not -- a stage version of that album [Girlfriend] is heading to Broadway. Same people who are doing the musical theater version of Green Day's American Idjit.



holy moley - that is =interesting=, but more because the first questions that come to my mind are Why? and Should I be scared?

Any idea how closely involved Sweet is with the project? I suppose the album could inspire some sort of narrative (the cover image certainly sets the mind going), but I've never seen it that way. Limited imagination, I guess...

David said...

As a Red Sea pedestrian, I find it funny that all my songs are about that Jesus dude, but here are three good ones:

Jesus Christ: Big Star
Jesus, Etc: Wilco
Walking With Jesus: Spacemen 3

TJWood said...

Who did "Signs"? You know, "The sign says you got to have a member ship card to get inside - huh!" Was it the Ashtrakhan Sleeve? Somehow I don't think so. Zager and Evans? No, they did "In the Year 2525," which was pretty lame even by the standards of Erie, PA in 1969.

It was the Five Man Electrical Band who did "Signs" in about 1970. It was also covered by Tesla on an MTV Unplugged in the early '90s.

Surprisingly, no one's mentioned U2, much as their music is associated with God. I go with "Yahweh" from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. As for Dylan's Christian period, I'll go with "Every Grain of Sand".

Libby Spencer said...

I thought of a couple more.

Your Own Personal Jesus. Forget who did that.

And Suzanne - Leonard Cohen.

Brooklyn Girl said...

George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord"

U2's "In God's Country"

And I promise I won't mention Madonna's "Like A Prayer" ... :-)

The Phantom Creep said...

Libby Spencer said...
I thought of a couple more.

Your Own Personal Jesus. Forget who did that.


Depeche Mode.

And then Johnny Cash on that Rick Rubin album.

Libby Spencer said...

I was looking for something else tonight and happened to run across this video. It claims to be rare footage, so it seemed worth passing on for the old hippies.

Blind Faith - Presence of the Lord.

dave™© said...

George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord"

I'll add "Awaitin' On You All"... one of the more overlooked numbers from the same elpee...

David said...

I agree that "Awaiting on You All" is a great and overlooked track. Steve, you indicated that you no longer groove to All Things Must Pass...granted, there's plenty of filler on that one, but I would argue that "Awaiting" and several other tracks (the lovely opener "I'd Have You Any Time" for one) still hold up wonderfully.

steve simels said...

Actually, when the CD version of "All Things" came out a few years ago, I was surprised and moved by a lot of it.

I'm still not convinced by some of his other early 70s records, but "All Things" is definitely a keeper...