♫ Spirit In The Sky ♫

This song was written and originally recorded by Norman Greenbaum and released in late 1969. The single became a gold record, selling two million copies from 1969 to 1970.  Now, there is no better way to get me to tune out and maybe even leave the room than a religious song, but I’ve never considered this to be a religious song, despite numerous references to religious icons.  According to Greenbaum, the inspiration to write the song came after seeing Porter Wagoner singing a gospel song on television.

“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.”

Greenbaum has been quoted as saying …

“It sounds as fresh today as when it was recorded. 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’.”

Um … okay … I suppose that’s an honour of sorts.

The song hit #1 in both the UK and Canada, and #3 in the U.S.  It is, frankly, the only song by Norman Greenbaum that I can remember right off.  Now, interestingly, two other versions also took this song to #1 in the UK.  The first was Greenbaum’s version in 1970, then in 1986 Doctor And The Medics took it to #1, and finally in 2003 for Gareth Gates And The Kumars.  I don’t believe I’ve heard of those other two groups.  Nonetheless, I went in search of and found the other two, so I shall start with Mr. Greenbaum’s and offer the other two as well!  Personally, I really can’t tell much difference between the three, but then my hearing is not the most discerning in the world.  I found the third, Gareth Gates and the Kumars, to be the most humorous video of the three!

Spirit in the Sky
Norman Greenbaum

When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky

Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky (spirit in the sky)
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die (when I die)
When I die and they lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best

Prepare yourself you know it’s a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that when you die
He’s gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky (spirit in the sky)

Oh he’ll recommend you to the spirit in the sky
That’s where you’re gonna go when you die (when you die)
When you die and they lay you to rest
You’re gonna go to the place that’s the best

Never been a sinner, I never sinned
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that when I die
He’s gonna set me up
with the spirit in the sky

Oh set me up with the spirit in the sky (spirit in the sky)
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die (when I die)
When I die and they lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best
Go to the place that’s the best

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Norman Greenbaum
Spirit in the Sky lyrics © Concord Music Publishing LLC

20 thoughts on “♫ Spirit In The Sky ♫

  1. A song about dying that makes you feel good! Strange! Melodies can be very powerful!!!! Also, sadly……never paid enough attention to the lyrics of this song. My bad!!! I really like this song. Thanks for sharing!
    Hope you are well, Jill! 💙
    BTW… I am endeavoring to become a songwriter. 17 songs…. so far!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, very strange. I usually listen to the music more than I pay attention to the lyrics … especially since I can never hear the lyrics correctly! The music is what moves the soul, I think, though I know that rawgod would disagree. We each hear something different in a song, we each enjoy music in a different way, and what’s wrong with that? Nothing. Glad you liked this one! You’re writing songs? WOW … you da woman! I’m impressed and happy for you! You must sing one, record it, and send it to me!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Prepare yourself you know it’s a must
    Gotta have a friend in Jesus

    You “never considered this to be a religious song”? That’s one mighty narrow definition of religion. Your privilege, of course, but what else could it be?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I loved the original, and bought the single. Did you know that he was formerly in the band Dr West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band, who got a fair bit of airplay here with their single The Eggplant That Ate Chicago – the 60s, drugs etc!

    The Kumars At No.42 was a tv comedy series here. The young lad is played by Sanjeev Bhaskar and his gran, next to him on the sofa, by Meera Syall, both well known here. In real life, they are married: the make up department did a good job!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did know about Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band, just forgot to mention it on this post. But … “The Eggplant That Ate Chicago”?????????????? Seriously??? Oh yeah … somebody had been smoking some banana peels when they came up with that one!

      Thanks for filling in some blanks about The Kumars! Did they do a song called “Car 54” or something similar to that? For some reason, that popped into my head!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, seriously! A good many songs were chemically induced in those days!

        I don’t recall them doing any others, and haven’t heard of a song by that name. This was a one-off, recorded for our major Children In Need telethon while Gareth Gates was still enjoying his brief time in the limelight after being on one of those ‘create a fake pop star’ shows.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I wonder if 50 years from now, people will point to a song from this era and say, “Oh, well, y’know … lots of songs back then were pandemic-induced!”

          I double checked and it was not the Kumars, nor was it “Car 54” … It was Car 67 by Driver 67 and Little Does She Know by The Kursaal Flyers … Kursall — Kumar … Car 54 — Car 67. Sigh. Can anyone point me to the nearest Alzheimer’s extermination center???

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ah, now I get it! I remember both of those, and particularly liked the Kursaal Flyers one. They came from Southend, at the other end of the county I live in. The band’s name was taken from an imitation train which featured in advertising for the local dancehall, the Kursaal, which had recently closed down. It was their only hit record, but they were well known and liked on the London pub-rock scene, which thrived in those days.

            Maybe not the songs, so much, but I certainly think the style of a lot of music will be seen to be pandemic-influenced. I listen to a lot of folk, country and Americana, and stripped down albums are very much to the fore as artists have to record on their own, or via Zoom. Taylor Swift is the obvious example, but there are many others.

            Like

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