Australian singles chart:
Spirit in the Sky entered the Kent charts on 30 March 1970 and was #1 for 7 weeks. The song was #5 on the Top 100 of 1970.
Greenbaum said: “I had come across a greeting card that said ‘Spirit in the Sky’. And it was American Indians sitting in front of a tipi, with the fire going and being spiritual towards what they had deemed God, which was a spirit in the sky. I think it was the Hopi. So I went, ‘That’s kind of interesting’ and just put it in the back of my head.
Then I happened to be watching Porter Wagoner on TV and he did a religious song halfway through the show about a miner that was up in the hills, digging for gold. He hadn’t been to church [or] prayed for, like, years and years. So he took his viola, came all the way back into town, and when he got to the church, there was a note on the door that said, ‘The pastor’s on vacation’.
Then I started thinking about the Hopi Indians, the pastor’s on vacation, and as a kid watching cowboy shows and hearing that the bad guys — when they were dying from a shootout — always wanted to be buried with their shoes on. All this is starting to connect. I just sat down and it all came together.”
Read more: www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/norman-greenbaum-interview-spirit-in-the-sky-934508/
Ultimate Classic Rock:
The line “never been a sinner / I never sinned” resulted in a backlash, since the principal that everybody is born in a state of sin is central to Christian beliefs. Greenbaum, who was brought up in the Jewish faith, reflected: “When I said I can do this, that didn’t mean I could do it perfectly. It wasn’t my religion; I just did it. I didn’t think twice about it. I took some of the seriousness out of it, but I didn’t do it as a joke or against anyone. I guess people can take offense to almost anything. There was the song about the plastic Jesus on your dashboard. They liked that one.”
Read more: ultimateclassicrock.com/norman-greenbaum-wrote-spirit-in-the-sky-in-15-minutes/
This song is also on our Spotify playlist Bang a Gong – the 70s
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