U2101 – Jesus Christ

Even for someone like me who doesn’t believe a lot of the Bible or most of what one might hear in a church, there are still plenty of positive life lessons to be learned from Christianity. Things like “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and “thou shall not commit murder” are good pieces of advice, no matter what the listener’s other beliefs might be. Another thing about Christianity that I do happen to believe is that Jesus was a pretty cool guy. I don’t believe that he was the son of God, but there is enough historical evidence to support the fact that he did actually live that I would be a fool to argue that point, and the fact is that he said and did some pretty progressive things. Woody Guthrie’s song “Jesus Christ” talks about some of these things and posits the theory that Jesus was killed because he taught that all the rich folks should share their wealth with those less fortunate. It makes me shake my head, wondering how we could have missed learning this lesson over the last two thousand years.

I am glad to say that the four members of U2 did learn this lesson, and wisely spread their wealth, not just money but also their time and celebrity, around to those who really need it, like the poor and suffering in third-world countries, AIDS victims, and so on. This passion for the world’s poor shines through brilliantly in U2’s cover of Guthrie’s song, and I really can’t think of a better pairing of song and performer. Like Bono says in the video that accompanied this Woody Guthrie tribute album, this song was as relevant when U2 recorded it in 1988 as it was when it was written in the 1930s, and, sadly, it is even more germane today than it was in the 80s. U2’s version of “Jesus Christ” has lots of vim and vigor, with a wonderful, typically intense vocal from Bono and a count in from Larry right before the final chorus that rouses my blood and pulls the song right along to its climax. I can’t help but want to shout along and cheer every time I hear this song.

Unlike some of the other songs that I have been covering in this article over the last few weeks and months, I am actually surprised that “Jesus Christ” hasn’t been performed live by U2. It would have been perfect at Self-Aid or another gig on the Conspiracy of Hope tour, but it seems that the band had not yet discovered this song by that point in 1986. That’s unfortunate because I believe that this song would have been positively rousing to hear and see performed live. Heck, as I stated above, the song is still pertinent today, so maybe its not too late for U2 to perform “Jesus Christ.” Anyone up for a live cover version on the Joshua Tree Tour 2019? In all seriousness, I highly doubt that U2 would perform this song in front of those crowds, full as they will be of people who have missed seeing U2 for, at best, the past decade. What do you think of U2’s cover of “Jesus Christ”?

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Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.

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