Sunday, November 3, 2019

Spirit: Spirit in the Sky

purchase [greenbaum]

I was on a Lufthansa flight this past week where the film offerings included a bunch of films I'd already seen, and <Rocketman> - the Elton John bio, which I hadn't seen.

After I consumed that, further entertainment also included a made-for-TV short about Elton John, which, not having had my fill and with few choices, I also watched.
Included in the TV short was information I did not previously know - something about Elton as a prolific session musician in the mid- to late 60s. There was a reference to Norman Geenbaum's Spirit in the Sky.A little research shows that Elton did <certified> session work on that one and maybe quite a lot more [see the link].

Norman Greenbaum's Spirit in the Sky. Consider the idea of Spirits in the Sky. What kind of spirits? Where else might you find spirits besides "in the sky"? In the ground (but not yet risen  from their graves?). In your mind, of course. And in your soul. But mostly in the air/sky - you know ... where ghosts tend to float. OR .. it being the be-witching season ... maybe knocking at your door. What might Greenbaum have been thinking? Are there Internet links that enlighten us 50 years after the song came out?

A look at the lyrics seems to indicate what you'd expect:
... a friend in Jesus ...
... they lay you to rest ...
... Never been a sinner, never sinned ...

Pretty solidly related to standard "holy" spirit and such. All the same, it seems incongruous that a message of this sort should have made the charts in the late 60s. Maybe it wasn't the message but rather the medium. (That bass beat ... or ...?)
Musically, the song is fairly 60s: and it's really the only song Greenbaum "made it with" - the rest of his career appears to have been seriously below the level of this song.

And so - established that Elton John did some session work,, his version of the song (must have liked it enough to do so ....)

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