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.

I heart black jesus

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.


About russellwriter

Rob Russell is a dad, husband, writer, musician, educator, comic book reader, bad solderer, pop culture junky, trivia buff and student of everything cool and uncool. His favorite records are Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde and, currently, The Best of Bobbie Gentry: The Capitol Years. His favorite comic books are Kurt Busiek's Astro City and Neil Gaiman's Sandman. His favorite literary novels are Gabrial Garcia Marquez's 100 Years of Solitude and William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. His favorite genre novels are John Scalzi's Red Shirts, M.R. Carrey's The Girl with All the Gifts, and Dan Simmons' Drood. His favorite movie is Goodfellas. His favorite hobby, besides everything, is writing about himself and his favorite things in the third person.

Posted on April 14, 2011, in 30 Songs, Pop Culture, Rock and Roll and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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