Music Throwback Saturday: Jesus is Just Alright

Mike Brewer was out of Oklahoma City, Tom Shipley from Mineral Ridge, OH.

ocean_-_put_your_hand_in_the_hand_singleAs little as I know about current recordings, I know about as much about the music of my youth. If you asked me who performed the first three songs I have mentioned here, I would have little problem, though these were the only Top 40 hits each of them had.

Put Your Hand In The Hand, I could tell you, was by the group Ocean. I even have this song on some compilation LP. The record by the pop band from London, Ontario, Canada went to #2 in 1971. It was originally released by future Canadian hitmaker Anne Murray in 1970, but it did not chart for her.

In my mind, I associate that song with One Toke Over The Line by Brewer & Shipley, which hit #10 in 1971. Mike Brewer was out of Oklahoma City, Tom Shipley from Mineral Ridge, OH, who formed as folk-rock duo in Los Angeles.

Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum, born in Malden, MA, was #3, for three weeks in 1970. Dustbury described this quite well recently, but I included it anyway.

Given the decadent nature of rock and roll (or so I’ve been told), I was fascinated by the spiritual nature of these songs, plus the explicit message of Oh Happy Day by the Edwin Hawkins Singers in 1969.

For another song from the era, I picked Jesus is Just Alright by the Doobie Brothers, assuredly NOT a one-hit-wonder. This song went to #35 in early 1973. This was on Toulouse Street, their second album with the decadent gatefold photo.

Listen to:

Put Your Hand In The Hand – Anne Murray HERE

Put Your Hand In The Hand – Ocean HERE

One Toke Over The Line – Brewer & Shipley HERE

One Toke Over The Line – Gail and Dale HERE

Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum HERE or HERE

Jesus Is Just Alright – Doobie Brothers HERE or HERE

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

3 thoughts on “Music Throwback Saturday: Jesus is Just Alright”

  1. My youthful attitude toward Spirit In The Sky and Jesus Is Just Alright was that I liked and admired the straightforward rock and roll but thought it was wasted on Jesus songs.

  2. “Jesus Is Just Alright” began life as a proper gospel song by Art Reynolds; the Byrds got the first pop hit out of it, if you consider grazing the bottom of the Hot 100 a “hit.” For now, it’s indelibly associated with the Doobie Brothers.

  3. I was still religious when all those songs came out, so many of them had a different meaning for me then than they do now, except for “One Toke Over The Line”, whose meaning hasn’t changed (and I liked the harmonies). Even back then, I thought Ocean’s cover of “Put Your Hand In The Hand” was too sappy (I liked Anne Murray’s version better when I heard it on a compilation album many years later). But I particularly liked “Spirit in the Sky” because of the heavy guitar, and at the time I liked the lyrics. Nopw, all those songs are just nostalgia, which is enough for me.

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