Monday, August 1, 2011

Norman Greenbaum - Spirit In The Sky

Spirit In The Sky - Norman Greenbaum.

This might be going back a little that some of you might remember.

Norman Greenbaum (born November 20, 1942, Malden, Massachusetts, United States) is an American singer-songwriter. He studied music at Boston University.

Greenbaum is best known for his song "Spirit in the Sky", which sold two million copies across 1969 and 1970. This disc sold over one million by May 1970 alone, and received a gold disc awarded by the R.I.A.A.. The song, with its combination of 'heavy' guitar, hand-clapping, and spiritual lyrics, has been used in many films, advertisements, and television shows.

Although "Spirit in the Sky" has a seemingly Christian theme, Greenbaum was and still is a practicing Jew. He was inspired to write the song after observing country singers Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner singing a religious song on television.

Greenbaum is regarded by some as a one-hit wonder; however, several of his records placed prominently in the charts. In 1968, under the name Dr. West's Medicine Show and Junk Band, he recorded the novelty hit "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago". Warner Bros. Records released "Spirit in the Sky" to tremendous response in 1970; a December 1970 survey of the top 100 songs of the decade, hosted by radio personality Robert W. Morgan, listed "Spirit in the Sky" at #7.

The song has been featured in many movies, including Superstar, Saving Grace, Contact, Michael (trailer only), Apollo 13, Remember the Titans, Ocean's Eleven, Jesus Camp, Wayne's World 2, The Sandlot 2, The Longest Yard, Knocked Up, Miami Blues, Universal Soldier II: Brothers In Arms, The War, The Wolves of Kromer, The Huntress, Forrest Gump, Evan Almighty, December Boys, Sunshine Cleaning, Angel Baby, When I Die, W., and Ben Stein's 2008 documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed". "Spirit in the Sky" was ranked #85 in VH1's 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders. It was included on the list of songs deemed 'questionable' by Clear Channel following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Norman was inspired to write the song after watching Porter Wagoner on TV singing a gospel song. Greenbaum later said: "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."

"Spirit in the Sky" contains lyrics about the afterlife, making several references to Jesus. However, Greenbaum, who identifies himself as Jewish, stated that he had no particular religious intentions with the song.

Greenbaum recorded his first solo album with Jacobsen for Reprise Records. The song's arrangement came together in the studio in San Francisco where lead guitarist Russell DaShiell, bass player Doug Killmer and drummer Norman Mayall worked with Greenbaum. According to one source and to DaShiell, Greenbaum used a Fender Telecaster with a fuzz box built into the body to generate the song's characteristic guitar sound. Moreover, DaShiell explained how he created the song's distinctive "beeping" fills.

This is a new version below. Not bad. It's close to the original version by Norman Greenbaum.

Doctor and the Medics - Spirit in the Sky

Spirit In The SkySpirit in the Sky: Best of

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