I’m not religious — at all — but it’s hard to ignore the volume of great art inspired by religious works. Take the Bible and its cast of characters… what a wacky bunch! (Though I have a little trouble buying the complete personality shift of ‘God’ between parts one and two.)
This week’s theme focuses on another Biblical figure — Jesus. Today through Friday, the titles of my selections feature the name of the Nazarene carpenter.
Today’s song is the opening track on John Mellencamp’s excellent Human Wheels album. I’ve been a moderate fan of Mellencamp’s as long as he’s been around but he really hit one out of the ballpark with Human Wheels. And that was immediately apparent just a few bars into this song.
It’s a sort of country funk song with whispered vocals (and great background support from a singer whose name I can’t find anywhere on the interwebs) and a revival-tent spoken word middle section. I’ve read it’s a response to the city’s role in the tumultuous civil rights era, though the lyrics certainly don’t make the connection obvious.
More than anything, this song was a signal that “Johnny Cougar” should be respected as a serious musician and it began a strong run for Mellencamp that continues to this day. I love how he gives a knowing wink at the end, reaching back to ‘Jack and Diane,’ one of his first big hits, for the fade-out:
Let the Bible Belt come and save my soul…