God Rock (60 mins. of music)

Revisiting the late 60's to early 70's religious phenomenon in popular music.

"I’ve gotten letters from funeral directors telling me that it's their second-most-requested song to play at memorial services, next to 'Danny Boy'." – Norman Greenbaum, singer and songwriter of "Spirit In The Sky".

Starting in the late 1960's and really starting to take hold by the early 1970's was a new type of popular music that previously was verboten on commercial music stations: alternately entitles Jesus Rock or God Rock, a wave of religious-themed songs hit the airwaves that proved tremendously popular. Even heavy rock acts picked up on this, with the juggernaut of all classic rock radio tracks, Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" becoming the cornerstone of their catalogue during this period. 

It coincided with two major religious movements in North America: that of the Hare Krishnas and evangelical Christians, the latter referred to the time as Jesus People or Jesus Freaks. It is also worth noting that many people who originally self-identified as hippies also joined this movement, creating a strange type hybrid of cosmic consciousness with mainstream Christianity. Interestingly, some of the performers of these songs were members of the Jewish faith who had become "born again" during this time as well.  

Roberta Flack, 1970. Photographer unknown, courtesy of Atlantic Records.

In hindsight, it tells of the feeling and mood of Western culture, particularly in the U.S., a nation seemingly coming apart at the seems with homegrown terrorism a weekly occurrence in major cities, the assassination of major Civil Rights Leaders and the ongoing war in Vietnam. This show does not include straight ahead Christian Rock and Pop acts who solely recorded in that genre, such as Larry Norman or Keith Green, but instead illustrates that people were looking for something new, and it was reflected in the popular culture of the day. 

Our tracks this week: Title, Artist, Year

First Part
1. Spirit In The SkyNorman Greenbaum, 1970
2. Put Your Hand In The HandOcean, 1971
3. My Sweet LordGeorge Harrison, 1970
4. Day By DayGodspell Cast, 1973 (film soundtrack version)
5. JesusQueen, 1973
6. SignsFive Man Electrical Band, 1971
7. ShambalaThree Dog Night, 1973

Second Part
8. Oh Happy DayEdwin Hawkins Singers (full-length LP version), recorded 1967/single release 1969
9. I Don't Know How To Love HimYvonne Elliman, recorded 1970/single release 1971
10. Jesus Is Just AlrightThe Doobie Brothers, 1972
11. I Told JesusRoberta Flack, 1970
12. After ForeverBlack Sabbath, 1971

13. Wade In the Water, Pacific Gas and Electric, 1971

To download this file, please click this link.

Love to you all.

Ben "Bear" Brown Jr., owner
Ace of Spades PDX

"Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use."

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