We’re re-visiting some posts from back in the Hymie’s archive (two years back to be specific. We’ve added a new track from one of our favorite albums of 2013 to this one.
Yesterday we explored the phenomenon of “Top 40 Jesus” and today we’re taking a cue from this scene from the 1999 Kevin Smith movie Dogma. Cardinal Glick (George Carlin, in the role he was born to play) introduces Buddy Christ, the revamped Savior (“A booster!”). Of course, those of us with a collection of rock and roll records are already familiar with Buddy Christ…
“Plastic Jesus” gets around, although of it’s many versions my favorite is still this obscure one by Mantanooska Thuderbuck on a 1976 compilation from Stash Records (Pipe, Spoon, Pot and Jug). It was originally written as a jingle for WWVA, a West Virginia AM radio station still on the air today (87 years strong by my count).
The Buddy Jesus in pop songs is a little more approachable, maybe – if possible – a little more forgiving. Sometimes he’s sort of a regular guy, as in Kris Kristofferson’s “Jesus Was a Capricorn”:
The album Jesus Was a Capricorn also included “Why Me?”, a sincere country gospel song which topped the country chart and peaked at #16 on the pop chart (it probably should have been included in yesterday’s post).
Kristofferson seems lost or at least struggling in “Why Me?” but in this next song it’s Buddy Jesus himself who is having a rough night – This is “Jesus at the Kenmore” by Duluth’s own Charlie Parr:
Charlie Parr’s Jesus is a lot more approachable than the Top 40′s Jesus, even as he’s being dragged from the bar saying:
You better straighten up and fly right
You know I can take you out
Actually, the recurring theme in “Buddy Jesus” songs is that the Savior struggled with his humanity – He was as lost as you and I, even when He didn’t let on (damn Capricorns). In some songs “Buddy Jesus” is really approachable, as in the lonely “I Am the Way” above (a Loudon Wainwright III song based on Woody Guthrie’s “New York Town”) of “Jesus Was a Wino” (by Lydia Loveless from the 2011 album Indestructible Machine):
The best Buddy Jesus song could also have been included in yesterday’s collection of top 40 Jesus songs (it hit #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1969). This song was the only hit for Lawrence Reynolds, who continued to sing it until he died in 2000. Here’s “Jesus is a Soul Man”:
Since we first posted “Buddy Jesus” in 2011, Charlie Parr has released a couple albums, including Barnswallow, which has become a favorite around the record shop — if you’ve been in and out this summer a couple times you’ve probably heard a track or two from it. The album features some of the most compelling original material Charlie has written, including “Jesus is a Hobo”: