Personal Jesus: Top 8 Easter Songs
It’s finally Easter and therefore the perfect time to showcase our Top 8 Easter Songs. Not only has the subject of God inspired many a decent musician, so has Jesus and the resurrection, so it’s high time we acknowledged this fact. There may be the odd pun-delicious song included in our Top 8 Easter Songs but rest assured, every single one of them is a golden egg! Find out what made our Top 8 Easter Songs below.
Number 8: Soul II Soul – Back To Life
8. Soul II Soul – Back To Life, 1989
Kicking off with an 80’s British soul classic for our Top 8 Easter Songs, we’ll fully admit we only got to include this one due to its somewhat fitting title. Soul II Soul more than deserve this inclusion though. After floundering with a few different single choices, they finally struck gold with this charmingly addictive R ‘n’ B number, going on to win a Grammy award for it. Thanks in part to Caron Wheeler’s stellar vocals, Back To Life still sounds fresh and vibrant today, after almost three decades since it was released. Praise be.
Number 7: The Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection
7. The Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection, 1989
The very same year, Manchester act The Stone Roses released their debut album to zero critical fanfare. The Stone Roses album closes with the seminal track, I Am The Resurrection. The likening of Ian Brown to Jesus Christ smacks of typical Madchester swagger, however it soon becomes apparent that the story of Christ’s resurrection has been applied to the breakdown of a relationship. The lyrics are simultaneously down to earth yet super-sharp, littered with subtle biblical references – “Stone me/Why can’t you see?” – and the entire melody is uplifted by John Squire’s frankly eye-opening, Hendrix-like guitar riffs. The song concludes with a four-minute instrumental outro which recalls 60s and early 70s psychedelia. Absolute genius.
Number 6: Kanye West – Jesus Walks
6. Kanye West – Jesus Walks, 2004
Guess what kids? Kanye West was actually good once. The man not only had something to say, but he always said it extremely well. Jesus Walks is probably his best ever song and it’s no.6 in our Top 8 Easter Songs. In it, West shows how “Jesus walks” with all human beings, sinners and saints alike. The first verse is told from the perspective of a drug dealer who contemplates his relationship with God. However West also questions why the music media is reluctant to release songs about God and religion. He struggled to have this song taken seriously for many years because both he and it didn’t conform to traditional hip hop stereotypes. Musically there are Gospel influences underlying the track and West’s flow is simply sensational. Where did you go, Kanye? :[ #PrayForKanye
Number 5: Black Sabbath – After Forever
5. Black Sabbath – After Forever, 1971
We don’t celebrate the Sabbath quite enough on the Community and they definitely deserve inclusion here. Sick of being tarred as ‘devil worshippers’ and ‘Satanists’, their bassist Geezer Butler decided to write this rather crude yet at times moving song about finding God, or at least, the possibility of God existing. After Forever is, according to Butler, a half-plea to people to stop fighting and killing others in the name of God and religion. He believes that God and Jesus wanted us to love each other. Amen to that. Scholars believe this is the first ever Christian rock song and Black Sabbath did a great job when they could have easily been cynical in their approach to the subject.
Number 4: Jackie Wilson – (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher
4. Jackie Wilson – (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher, 1967
Ok so it’s another ‘tongue in cheek’ number and to be honest, this one isn’t even a pun that makes us look clever, so why is it here at all? Just listen to it! Although Jackie Wilson was singing about a relationship lifting him higher, we see it as something that could also apply to a religious or spiritual love having the same effect. It’s a classic Motown number that just makes you want to get up and sing, brother! The video is really weird so just ignore that. It’s the song that makes this one timeless and rather special.
Number 3: The Stone Roses – Love Spreads
3. The Stone Roses – Love Spreads, 1994
The Stone Roses album concluded with I Am The Resurrection. Five years later came the biblically-titled Second Coming, with Love Spreads as its lead single. From the outset, blistering garage rock riffs, murky atmospherics and a groovy bassline make it clear that The Stone Roses had not only grown up, they had changed completely. Instead of Ian Brown being a Godlike figure, Jesus was now a black woman being nailed to a cross. The idea of Jesus being a black female is clearly controversial but it shows how the band’s thought processes had gone from being insular and arrogant, to embracing fairly radical cultural ideas. This sits so well with the music too. Indie pop metamorphoses into deep and dirty Blues rock and guitarist John Squire presides over the rest of the band with an almost Messianic presence himself. A brilliant and very underrated British rock song.
Number 2: Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus
2. Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus, 1989
This could have easily been at No.1 of our Top 8 Easter Songs, however it’s essentially sharing pole position with Johnny Cash. 1989 seems to have been a pretty magical year for songs about God and Jesus hitting the British charts. Depeche Mode have never really shied away from talking about religion or faith in their music, but it’s Personal Jesus that stands head and shoulders above the rest of their back catalogue as a shining example of their genius. It also sounds so very unlike Depeche Mode, with its powering Blues riff, domination by lead guitar and drums and overall rock ambiance. Gahan sings about being someone’s saviour, their “own Personal Jesus” to support and help them when they need it. In many ways it’s about love and devotion. Another fantastic, and utterly timeless British rock song.
Number 1: Johnny Cash – Personal Jesus
1. Johnny Cash – Personal Jesus, 2002
If ever there was an example of a cover version bettering an original song, then surely this is it? In 2002 an ageing Johnny Cash turned his attention to covering Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus and in doing so, created an instantly memorable ‘new’ version of it. His stripped-down acoustic version and gravelly delivery imbues the song with such heartfelt depth and emotional pain that it’s difficult not to be moved by it. This cover version succeeds in not only being as good as, if not better, than the original Personal Jesus, but it demonstrates exactly why the original is so good too. It is Martin Gore’s lyrics which manage to transcend all space and time to become immortalised in music history as utterly spectacular. Ten gold eggs go to Personal Jesus, by Depeche Mode and covered by Johnny Cash.
What do you think about our Top 8 Easter Songs list? Let us know!