“Spirit In The Sky” – Norman Greenbaum
In honor of Easter weekend, I’d like to bring some exceptionally popular Christian Rock to One Song Today. I’m not Christian, and I typically don’t like religious music, but this one is pretty tough not to like. The “Spirit in The Sky” single sold two million copies in 1969-1970 and reached number three in the U.S. Billboard chart (April 18, 1970) where it was listed for 15 weeks in the Top 100. It also climbed to number one on the UK, Australian and Canadian charts in 1970. Rolling Stone ranked “Spirit in the Sky” #333 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The kicker? Greenbaum’s Jewish!
Greenbaum had previously been a member of psychedelic jug band Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band. When they split up he won a solo contract with producer Erik Jacobsen, who had previously worked successfully with The Lovin’ Spoonful. He was inspired to write the song after watching Porter Wagoner on TV singing a gospel song. Greenbaum later said : “I thought, ‘Yeah, I could do that,’ knowing nothing about gospel music, so I sat down and wrote my own gospel song. It came easy. I wrote the words in 15 minutes.”
The song has been noted many times for Greenbaums innovative guitar playing, which draws heavily from techniques Jimi Hendrix used. A Christian rock song we can all enjoy, but a non-practicing Jewish kid, written in 15 minutes. Laziness The Dude would abide.