Some folks say that Jesus was the first rock star, and you have to admit several of the fundamental job descriptions match up – not to mention the long, flowing locks and Golden God-like charisma. Jesus has either made a cameo or had a starring role in many a classic rock song, as you'll see in these Top 10 Jesus Songs. And before you ask, yes, we are on a mission from God.
"Jesus Built My Hotrod"Ministry
From: ‘Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs’ (1992)
Oh, how could we resist including a bonus entry in the shape of Ministry’s jaw-dropping partnership with Butthole Surfer Gibby Haynes on the freaky, frenzied, full-tilt-gonzo industrial metal classic known as "Jesus Built My Hotrod"? No, don’t bother trying to understand: Like the nice man says, the only thing to do is “ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long.”
"When Jesus Left Birmingham"John Mellencamp
From: ‘Human Wheels’ (1993)
When the “Little Bastard,” as John Mellencamp likes to call himself, sang about our man of the hour on his 1993 album, Human Wheels, he wisely did so in a very playful and only slightly irreverent fashion – even quoting "Jack and Diane" along the way – so as not to upset (we think) any members of his fan-flock. But you be the judge.
From: ‘Music From Another Dimension!’ (2012)
On this standout cut from Aerosmith’s long-awaited 15th album, vocalist Steven Tyler describes an encounter with a homeless man, whose shoeless feet and stigmata marks (among other telltale signs) convince him to turn tail and race off with his fellow instrumentalists in hot musical pursuit.
"Jesus Is Just Alright"The Byrds
From: ‘Ballad of Easy Rider’ (1969)
The legendary folk rockers recorded this spiritual composed by gospel singer Arthur Reid Reynolds for their 1969 LP, Ballad of Easy Rider, and then the Doobie Brothers took it one step by releasing it as a single in ’72, but we’ll stick to the former for the benefit of our Top 10 Jesus Songs.
From: ‘Queen’ (1973)
Although he was raised within the traditions of the Zoroastrian faith as a youth on the Island of Zanzibar and then back in his family’s native India, Queen singer Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara) also went down “to see the man Jesus” on this underrated nugget from his band’s debut album.
"Jesus Gave Love Away for Free"Manassas
From: ‘Manassas’ (1972)
After splitting from David Crosby and Graham Nash (for the first of many times, of course), Stephen Stills found Jesus — or heavenly inspiration, at the very least — with his supergroup Manassas. Specifically via the pedal steel-slathered country-twang of this tune, featuring Al Perkins of the Flying Burrito Brothers.
"Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)"Ian Gillan
From: ‘Jesus Chris Superstar’
Heavy metal fans have always sung the praises of Deep Purple banshee Ian Gillan’s portrayal of Jesus on the original cast recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s mega-musical Jesus Chris Superstar. So the singer’s spectacular, hair-raising showpiece "Gethsemane" absolutely had to feature in our list of Top 10 Jesus Songs.
From: ‘Madman Across the Water’ (1971)
Although Bernie Taupin mentions Jesus by name in his lyrics for Elton John’s Top 40 hit, "Levon," his elliptical references bear only tenuous similarities to established gospel, and do little to clarify who this Levon guy really is. But, since the tune’s lead character was simply based on Taupin’s love of the Band (and drummer Levon Helm), we’re probably over-thinking this.
"Jesus"The Velvet Underground
From: ‘The Velvet Underground’ (1969)
Of all the artists one might expect to appeal to Jesus for guidance and help, are there any more unlikely than the Velvet Underground’s radical-in-chief Lou Reed? But this is precisely what Lou did in this soul-baring, apparently earnest ballad from the controversial group’s eponymous third album.
"After Forever"Black Sabbath
From: ‘Master of Reality’ (1971)
Black Sabbath’s ultimate meditation on life, death, the universe and everything in between, "After Forever" is proof positive that (a) anyone can have a talk with Jesus (even Ozzy Osbourne!), and (b) one can find Jesus pretty much anywhere – even at the bottom of a bong!
"Jesus Just Left Chicago"ZZ Top
From: ‘Tres Hombres’ (1973)
That little ol’ band from Tejas calls on Jesus to help them preach the gospel of the blues on this absolute classic from 1973’s career-defining Tres Hombres LP. We still don’t know whether Jesus drove, flew, or thumbed his way to New Orleans, but you can bet we’d follow him there, based on ZZ Top's musical endorsement — the No. 1 choice in our list of Top 10 Jesus Songs.