Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Norman Greenbaum: Spirit in the Sky (1969)

Norman Greenbaum [b. Nov 20, 1942] performs “Spirit in the Sky,” which is the second track of the 1969 album of the same name. Greenbaum, who is Jewish, wrote the song with references to Christianity and the afterlife, chiefly to see if he could write a gospel song, Wikipedia writes:
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.’ ”[4]
With its distorted guitar riffs and a 1960s psychedelic hypnotic feel, it is not a gospel song in the traditional sense. But it does take you to another place (Taking you to the place that’s the best.) The song became an international sensation, quickly selling two million copies; it is ranked by Rolling Stone as No. 333 on their list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”