Day 4 – A Song that Makes You Sad: "Jesus Christ"
This was originally a Wood Guthrie song, but Merle Haggard’s lyrics are significantly different and sadder, angrier, and they absolutely never fail to bring tears to my eyes.
What JC preached back in the day – give your money to the poor, take care of one another, ‘never mind the bollocks, here’s the kingdom of heaven, and you can’t get in if you’re weighed down with rules/jewels/tools of high office’ (okay, that last bit’s mine, and partially Johnny Rotten’s and Bob Dylan’s, but you get the drift) – was radically progressive, not the conservative, regressive shtick that talk radio and conservative tv tries to tell us is his message. It’s a hard road to travel, especially for the wealthy, powerful and privileged. Christ’s message was one that specifically challenged — and still challenges — the status quo.
The line, “And they laid Jesus Christ in the grave” ends every stanza of the song, and that’s what they did to him because of what he stood for — not because he was the Son of God, but because he was telling them that what they were doing was wrong, that their selfishness was wrong, and they didn’t want to hear that.
If he came back to day, preaching the same message, as Haggard points out, they’d lay him in his grave once again. Saddest song ever, in my opinion.
Jesus Christ was a man who traveled through the land
A carpenter true and brave
He said to the rich, “Give your goods to the poor,”
But they laid Jesus Christ in His grave
He went to the sick, and he went to the poor
and he went to the hungry and the lame
and he said that the meek would inherit the whole world
and they laid Jesus Christ in the grave
One day Jesus stopped at a rich man’s door
“What must I do to be saved?”
Take all you own and give it to the poor
And they laid Jesus Christ in His grave.
When the love of the poor, shall one day turn to hate
when the patience of the workers give away
Would be better for the rich to have never been born
so they laid Jesus Christ in His grave
When Jesus come to town, all the working folks around
Believed what he did say
But bankers and the preachers, they nailed Him on the cross,
And they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.
Well the people held their breath when they heard about his death
And everybody wondered why
It was the landlord and soldiers, the lawmen there had hired
To nail Jesus Christ in the sky
We would lay Jesus Christ in the grave, Lord Lord
We would lay Jesus Christ in the grave
If Jesus was to preach what He preached in Galilee,
They would lay poor Jesus in His grave.