I’ve talked before about the Folkways album, which had Jesus Christ on it and led me to several steps of discovery, from Woody Guthrie to Jack Kerouac. It had a lot of interesting stuff, and led in a lot of different directions.
I like Jesus Christ, it’s done as a bouncy tune, they sound like they’re having fun with it. It’s got a message that resonates with a lot of U2 music, the story of Jesus and how he would be accepted in today’s society. There are a lot of people who speak the words of Jesus but don’t live those words, and when the song accuses the bankers and the preachers, they’re hitting the nail right on the head.
Folkways was interesting, as I said it exposed me to both Guthrie and Leadbelly and their music, but also to the people who recorded the songs for the album. I went and listened to music from people like Dylan, Springsteen and Little Richard with a different perspective after hearing them on the album. I also went and got a lot of music from the original versions, and followed them down some different paths. It surprises me to listen to some of these songs and then read about the trials and tribulations these guys went through to be able to record their music. It’s fantastic stuff, and I guess you do have to experience some really hard times to be able to write these songs.
Pretty Boy Floyd is perhaps my favorite song from the album, I guess I should say in the original version, not the one that appeared on the album. I have it on my phone, it’s a powerful song that I enjoy listening to when it comes on. I think I like a lot of protest music, much of it seems to come more from the heart than other music (especially the stuff of today, which is teenagers singing love songs, when they don’t even know what love is). I also like Goodnight, Irene, the version by Brian Wilson this time. And everybody knows This Land Is Your Land, I’ve even seen calls for it to be the national anthem, although you know when people actually sit down and listen to it, it’s one of those songs that has a much different meaning to what people think.
I guess I’ve talked a lot more about the album than about U2’s contribution to it. That’s probably because the U2 part was just the gateway for me, and you can describe the gate as much as you want but it’s more interesting to step through and see what’s on the other side. It’s important, too, because it does show that I’m not just a U2 fan, and also the impact that a band like U2 can have just by covering someone else’s music and getting their fans interested. I suspect a cover by U2 might drive quite a few sales of original music, and, just like in Rattle & Hum, start some journeys of discovery that can end up in many a different place.
My rating for Jesus Christ: 5 / 10