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His Own Private Idaho: The Saviors Ipod Reviewed


I loved Brett Jensen’s take on Jesus and Jesus’ Ipod in an earlier post. If you can’t laugh at religion what can you do with it? A good question and one I faced when Marie Lynn refused to help me. “It is too seculative,” she said, before correcting herself, “I meant too Speculative”. Well, exactly. However, all discussions of an afterlife are speculative by definition.
 
This is not a question of faith -something of which I have very little, it is a question of imagination. I have no kick against Christians (my sister Feriel who I love very much is Born Again) but I have no belief either. This is a question of the irrelevance of disbelief in the face of a Western myth (or not as the case may be) of human decency. For a man who has had such a supreme impact on our world what we know of his limited…. Way more limited than what we know of, say Socrates, who lived 400 hundred years earlier.
 
So who was this Jesus guy. Let’s seculize him for a minute. A gifted student who would lecture in the Tabernacle and teach the elders till he left the Synagogue to preach the word of God as the prophet God had promised the children of Israel. His teachings annoyed the Rabbi’s and his words of a new Kingdom were misconstrued as a call to fight the Romans.
 
So his music would be a) spiritual b) anti-establishment and c) anti-government. He loved telling stories -parables if you will. He loved the underdog more than the rich and powerful. Jesus and his Disciples were like a touring rock band, going from town to town, filling clubs, preaching the good word, getting harrassed by the man, thrown in jail, causing riots… they were the Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols of 25 AD.
 
Jesus was also as far from an innocent as is posssible: he was completely aware of who was doing what to whom and he was ten steps ahead of those around him. He knew Judas would betray him, he knew the Jews would turn their back on his, he knew the Disciples would disperse in fear. And he alone truly understood what was at stake. When the Devil tried to tempt him, Christ threw the Devil off with as, in Peter Holsapple’s words, “…those same old played out stuff”. But Christ wanted to live his life, to enjoy it, and was so hastled by his disciples every time he took a breather he felt it necessary to rremind that the poor will always be around, he, on the other hand, would be leaving them soon enough. He wanted to live so much that in a reversal so tender and sad he asked God to let him off the hook. What made Jesus special was not that he was God but that he was also human.
 
So when I thought of what Christ’s Ipod playlist would be like I kept these thoughts in the back of my mind.Then I had a better idea: I asked my friends on Facebooks for their choices and I got a great many more ideas and I will discuss those ideas as well but first I want to mention Michael Malone’s choice, the B-52s “Party Of Bounds”. I agree and very much so with the B-52s choice. Indeed, I think it would be Christ’s favorite band. The B-52’s are always partying, always joyful but they seem to party from the inside out: they’re like the gay Talking heads, taking the worlds temperature and Christ is the most gay friendly Messiah possible.
 
Even today homosexuality, like Jewishness, and certainly like Messiahdom, is a minority profession. Christ would’ve responded very well to both the B-52’s party attitude and their inclusive persona as exclusive denizens of a demimonde. But I think the song he would’ve loved most is “Private Idaho”. I don’t know if you’ve seen Gus Van Zant’s brilliant movie “My Own Private idaho”. It is the retelling of Shakespeare’s Henry IV moved to the milieu of teen boy hustlers. River Pheonix -in a career defining performances, plays a Jesus figure as a narcoleptic manic depressive and Keanu Reeves -in the best performance of his career, plays an Old Testament King David with the arrogant swagger God distilled into his prophets thru the Old Testament. Anyway, there is a mix of party and parting ways in “Idaho”. Christ’s message was absolutely “get out of the state you’re in” and I bet he found a kindered spirit in Fred Schneider.
 
 
Otherwise I found myself very amused by the creativity of some of the songs recommended. Sandy deBellis had me laughing uproariously when she said Christ would listen to “The First Cut Is The Deepest” written by one Cat Stevens aka Yusef Islam. Still, if anybody might forgive Mr. Islam it would be Christ and “First Cut…” as sung by Rod Stewart, who cut his teeth with the soulful Sam Cooke and Cooke who not only sung gospel but OWNED a gospel record company, would have the sort of spirituality, or soul if you prefer, which would cut deep thru to the God at the heart of secular faith in romantic love.
 
 
Will Hammen’s list is a mix of the literal (“Spirit In the Sky”), the why this makes perfect sense I don’t know (“Tonight, Tonight”) , and you’ll never get to heaven if you put these cats on Christ’s Ipod (“God Put A Smile On My Face”). I think that if you were talking the Big G of the Old Testament you’d better have a lot of God in it; Wagner and Queen would be my recommendation but Christ is like Obama (or should that be vice versa), there is a self-confidence which, for the most part, eschues all the sound and fury signifying nothing. He doesn’t need to pat himself on the back and so I agree with Brett and not with Felix Rodriguez because I think he would have loathed “What If God Was One Of Us”. For one thing, as far as class structure goes he was not a slob like one of us at all: he was a slob like the cobbler who fixes the heel on my shoes near where I live: a craftsman but a poor man. For another, he kept his sense of self severely in check. In this way he was very Taoist. He did wht he did and left others to decide for the most part. The only “God” song he’d give the thumbs up to is “God Only Knows” and that only because it is such a great song.
 
Here is Will Hammen’s Jesus Christ Playlist:
Spirit In The Sky – Norman Greenbaum
Red, Red Wine – UB40
Anything by the Carpenters (I would say “Top Of The World” -but maybe too literal)
Living On A Prayer Bon Jovi
Heaven Is A Place On Earth – Belinda Carlisle
Tonight, Tonight – Smashing Pumpkins
God Put A Smile On My Face – Coldplay
What If God Was One Of Us – Joan Osbourne
 
Diana Ostro, my old partner in concert going and inveterate Fiona Apple fan (she once wrote a spectacular article about Apple and I wish I could find it) has always had great taste in music which from time to time coincided with mine. “Jesus is Just Alright – The Doobie Brothers. But when he sings along, he says “I’m just alright with me.” Diana opined, “High Enough – Damn Yankees This is fun!” I wish Diana would write some posts for me -at least during the summer when she is not teaching. Todd Leibowitz came up with Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” which Brett basically kicked in on an earlier blog. Michael Nesman suggested Elvis Costello’s “God’s Comic” Nicole Masalsky Biggie’s “Big Poppa,” as well as , Jump around- House of pain; Halo- Beyonce; Got a feeling- Black eye peas. Alix Wartell “anything by Taylor Swift,” London Springsteen fan Noreen O’Hagen R.E.M.’s “Losing My religion”.
 
 
I once took my niece Louba Lababedi to the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular and before the Living Nativity scene they had the voiceover preamble saying “There was once another man, a man from humble beginning’s who rose from poverty to change the way every one of us…” and she turned to me and asked “What the hell are they talking about…?” So in a long and proud family tradition Louba chose three truly dreadful songs for Christ’s Ipod. Bat out of Hell-Meatloaf. Sacrifice -Elton John and Heaven – Warrant. Michael Malone added the Cramps to his B-52s ch
oice. Chris Clarke suggested:John Lennon – Imagine; Coldplay – Speed of sound; Michael Jackson – Heal the World; Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
 
 
 
I wish I understood Steve Diamond’s thought process a bit clearer. Here is his list:
Like a prayer – Madonna
I just can’t stop loving you – M. Jackson
Joseph, Better you than Me – Killers
I say a little Prayer – D. Worwick
Beautiful Day – U2
Love Train – O’ Jays
I’m your man – Wham
Take a Chance on Me – Abba
Say you’ll be there – Spice Girls
The Rising – Bruce Springsteen
Bad Girls – Donna Summer
Love Train – O’ Jays
Take a Chance on Me – Abba
Evil Urges – my Morning jacket

First question, why “The Rising”? Hasn’t the Christ been tortured enough? Still dedicating “Bad Girls” to Mary Magdalena is a nice stroke and though Steve’s take on it was a touch literal how can you kick against a Saviour groovin’ to the O’Jay’s, Madonna, and his new best bud MJ.
 
Sandy Debellis I completely agree with her choice of Frank Sinatra and think he would thank her kindly if he found SOME of these songs on his Ipod… She began with the already mentioned “First Cut Is the deepest” (“my Rod S. all time favorite”).

One Night in Heaven – M People
Reach Out I’ll be There – Michael McDonald
Give Me Wings – Rod Stewart
You’ll Never Walk Alone – Jose Carerras
From Here to Eternity – Frank Sinatra
Someone to Watch Over Me – Frank Sinatra
I’ll Be Seeing You – Engelbert Humperdink
Body and Soul – Billie Holiday
I Will Survive- Gloria Gaynor
Stayin Alive – Bee Gees
Too Much Heaven -Bee Gees
So Long Farewell, GoodBye – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
I Feel The Earth Move – Carole King
What A Difference A Day Makes – Barry Manilow
 
 
Me? I started with a question. If Jesus Christ was alive today and on the same basic trajectory what would his life be like? Well, for one thing, since he died at the age of thirty-three he’d be young. For another he would be highly anti-government. Sorta like Springsteen before he blew his image by supporting John Kerry. I would guess he would have no political affiliation, no time for any of the Churches whatsoever, a deep loathing of Wall Street and many of the corrupted trappings of Capitalism and even less time for the fascist regimes of Communism which do to their own people what the Roman’s did to strangers.
 
As mentioned above he would travel the country but maybe more like Titus Andronicus with a website and fans all over the States letting the band stay with them. It would be the antithesis of a Presidential campaign. It would be real grassroots -a small but powerful thrust into the heart of America, think globally act locally in action.

The first three songs I would chose deal with the morals of segregation, the morals of sexual love and the ethics of partying:
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Medley: Try A Little Tenderness/You Send Me – Sam Cooke
Twisting The Night Way – Sam Cooke
Gaye’s pleading “don’t torture me with brutality” is an important difference between the three theist religions. The God of the Torah, the God who warned the children of Israel he would have them eat their young if they worshipped any God but Him, would have shoved brutality right down Gaye (and King Jn.’s) front teeth. From the Old testament thru Islam, Christianity is the odd man out. It’s as if by sharing some form of flesh God has an empathy for his creations he never had before or since. The temptation fo Christ has always between the temptation of mortality, of fleshiness. It wasn’t about owning the world, it was about the temptation of a life he could not have. It was the tenderness in human relationships and the joy in the cathartic pleasures of letting loose. The stuff he could not have. By the way, I have been trying to keep away from Gospel, if I hadn’t there is a lotta stuff, the Soul Stirrers for one, he might have downloaded off Cooke’s “SAR Records”.

Fight the Power – Public Enemy
Holiday In The Sun – Sex Pistols
Titus Andronicus – Titus Andronicus
White Riot – The Clash
Christ was inches away from rebelling against his own father, he certainly had no interests in societies standards and could care less what society told him to do. Christ himself would tell us what the standards were and where we stood. He would’ve appreciated the rebellious spirit prevalent in these songs and while he might not have appreciated the violence, Christ would have understood the difference between talk and action. In 77 England violent attacks happened against punks constantly. As the NME put it on a cover one week: “This ain’t no summer of love”.
 
Mama Tried – Merle Haggard
South Of The Border (Down Mexico Way) – Patsy Cline
Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
“The Lord loves the one who loves the Lord” is how George Harrison once put it and God knows the Red States got the faith and we got the suspended disbelief so I guess the Christ would love country if only because He loves those who love him. Also, Christ spoke in parables, he liked to tell stories (a major difference between the two Testaments is the first tells stories as a history and the latter tells stories as examples) and would love the story telling here.
 
 
Finally, I said I wasn’t going to include any spirituals on Jesus Ipod but I lied. I am going to include one. Back in the day when Sandy deBellis was working in the office next to me she put up with my music all day long with nary a complaint except when I played this one album when she tell me to “Turn that noise off”. The noise was John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”. The entire lyric is an overdubbed Coltrane saying “A love supreme’ against a bass and an open sax. It can’t be denied as both a testament as to how music and how faith can save a life. And Jesus? Jesus might have considered it a bow of the head from a big time fan.

Jesus Christ’s Ipod
 
Private Idaho – the B-52s
Party Out Of Bounds – the B- 52s
God Only Knows – the Beach Boys
The First Cut IS the Deepest – Rod Stewart
Spirit In The Sky – Norman Greenbaum
Red, Red Wine – UB40
Top Of the World – the Carpenters
Living On A Prayer Bon Jovi
Heaven Is A Place On Earth – Belinda Carlisle
Tonight, Tonight – Smashing Pumpkins
God Put A Smile On My Face – Coldplay
What If God Was One Of Us – Joan Osbourne
Jesus Is Alright With me – the Doobie brothers
High Enough – Damn Yankees
Personal Jesus – Depeche Mode
God’s Comic – Elvis Costello
Big Poppa – Notorious B.I.G.
Tears On My guitar – Taylor Swift
Losing My Religion – R.E.M.
Bat out of Hell-Meatloaf.
Sacrifice -Elton John
Heaven – Warrant.
Jump around- House of pain
Halo- Beyonce
Got a feeling- Black eye peas
Bat out of Hell-Meatloaf.
Sacrifice -Elton John
Heaven – Warrant
Faster Pussycat – The Cramps
John Lennon – Imagine
Coldplay – Speed of sound
Michael Jackson – Heal the World
Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
Like a prayer – Madonna
I just can’t stop loving you – M. Jackson
Joseph, Better you than Me – Killers
I say a little Prayer – D. Worwick
Beautiful Day – U2
Love Train – O’ Jays
I’m your man – Wham
Take a Chance on Me – Abba
Say you’ll be there – Spice Girls
The Rising – Bruce Springsteen
Bad Girls – Donna Summer
Love Train – O’ Jays
Evil Urges – My Morning jacket
One Night in Heaven – M People
Reach Out I’ll be There – Michael McDonald
Give Me Wings – Rod Stewart
The First Cut is the Deepest – Rod Stewart
You’ll Never Walk Alone – Jose Carerras
From Here to Eternity – Frank Sinatra
Someone to Watch Over Me – Frank Sinatra
I’ll Be Seeing You – Engelbert Humperdink
Body and Soul – Billie Holiday
I Will Survive- Gloria Gaynor
Stayin Alive – Bee Gees

Too Much Heaven -Bee Gees
So Long Farewell, GoodBye – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
I Feel The Earth Move – Carole King
What A Difference A Day Makes – Barry Manilow
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Medley: Try A Little Tenderness/You Send Me – Sam Cooke
Twisting The Night Way – Sam Cooke
Fight the Power – Public Enemy
Holiday In The Sun – Sex Pistols
Titus Andronicus – Titus Andronicus
White Riot – The Clash
Mama Tried – Merle Haggard
South Of The Border (Down Mexico Way) – Patsy Cline
Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane
ONE MORE!!!
I’m A Pilgrim – the Soul Searchers

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