It’s one more random than 10!
Despite being quite behind in my membership dues, Good Friday always brings out the Catholic in me. I went to Catholic school for 12 years, and we always went to Stations of the Cross during Lent. For those of you who may not be familiar with this, every Catholic church has paintings or engravings depicting the Passion of Christ. The priest starts at the first one, reads a summary of that scene, and moves on to the next one. When he reaches the crucifixion, he pauses and everyone prays in silence for a few minutes. That was always my most Catholic moment of the year, when I really felt what it was all about and could appreciate the solemnity of the story.
Then I would leave church and return to my usual self, acting as if there was a Beatitude that said, Blessed are the smart asses, for they shall inherit the open-mic nights of God. Oh well.
In keeping with that contradiction, I’m honoring Good Friday by picking the first eleven random songs that remind me of Jesus, done in the style that all but ensures I’ll be hearing these again when I descend to Hell for blasphemy.
1) “Gloria,” U2. What better way to start out than with a singer who thinks he is Jesus? I kid because I love, and despite Bono’s pretentions, I love the guy and the band. I appreciate a group that can make Christian rock that doesn’t sound like Color Me Badd set to the Psalms. Or American Idol: Salvation. Or Creed.
2) “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” Bob Dylan. In the case of Christ, the time literally changed with that whole BC/AD switchover. Think Daylight Savings Time would screw you up? What, we have to start at zero and start counting again? Jesus Christ! Oh, it is because of you, My Lord? Of course, no problem, we’ll reconfigure all the calendars. And sorry for the swearing.
3) “Everyday Is Like Sunday,” Morrissey. I imagine every day would feel like Sunday when you followed Jesus around. You couldn’t make dick jokes or lust in your heart, and if you got caught self-violating the temple of your body, He really could make you go blind. On the plus side, the parties never ran out of wine.
4) “Just Like Honey,” Jesus and Mary Chain. Used so brilliantly at the end of Lost in Translation. The relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is kind of like Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson: two people who want each other in the worst way but can’t because the time just isn’t right. He has to focus on redeeming humanity, she can't become an Apostle because she's a she, and by the time they get some time together, Jesus is risen and has to hurry back to heaven. That's Oscar gold right there.
5) “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” Brinsley Schwartz. If someone ever decides to make another musical about the Gospel, this would be a great number for Jesus to sing when Pontius Pilate asks the crowd whether to crucify Jesus of Barabbas.
6) “Creeping Death,” Metallica. The rockingest song ever written about Passover. It really illustrates the difference between the Old and New Testament. New Testament is I’m going to let my son die for the sins of you wicked fuckers. Old Testament is You wicked fuckers are going to die for your sins. It’s like after a few thousand years of plagues and curses, God said, You know, it’s not you, it’s Me.
7) “Stronger,” Kanye West. I know one would expect resurrection music tends to be all Handel-ish, but if I’m triumphing over death and destroying sin and celebrating the resurrection of the body, I want something I can strut out of the tomb to.
8) “Why Me, Lord,” Johnny Cash. Not a Cash original, but he sure makes it sound like it. It makes me think of Jesus praying in the garden, which always struck me as the most human moment in the New Testament.
9) “Help!” The Beatles. Or you could go with something more upbeat for the Garden of Gethsemane scene in the musical. P.S: Dear Lord, I really am kidding. Please take it easy on me. At least I didn’t say I was bigger than Jesus!
10) “How a Resurrection Really Feels,” The Hold Steady. The ultimate Catholic bar band. The excessive references to sex and drinking are not really idea for guitar mass, but pretty accurate for Catholic school.
11) “The Ballad of El Goodo,” Big Star. A great song, one so positive and spiritual, even the Angel of Death would put down the sickle and hold his lighter up.
So there you have it. If you’re celebrating Easter, have a happy one. If you’re not, I hope you at least get to enjoy some chocolate.