Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Irreligious Song #2: Depeche Mode “Personal Jesus”

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on October 1, 2010

I was a senior at a Conservative Baptist boarding school when another student returned from his U.S. furlough with a cassette copy of Depeche Mode’s album Violator. Depeche Mode had always flirted with heresy in their music (the song “Blasphemous Rumors” comes to mind), but “Personal Jesus” was so obviously blasphemous, that even those kids at my boarding school who were gifted at excusing the lyrics to secular music, through creative interpretive efforts, were unable to save this song. This song is a variation of Depeche Mode’s numerous Carpe diem songs; the main idea communicated through the lyrics are: “Hey ladies, try having a personal relationship with ME instead of that invisible dead guy. Oh, and I’m much better in bed than He is.”

“Personal Jesus” lyrics

Reach out and touch faith
Your own Personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who cares
Your own Personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who’s there

Feeling’s unknown and you’re all alone
Flesh and bone by the telephone
Lift up the receiver
I’ll make you a believer

Take second best
Put me to the test
Things on your chest
You need to confess
I will deliver
You know I’m a forgiver
Reach out and touch faith

Your own Personal Jesus
Feeling’s unknown and you’re all alone
Flesh and bone by the telephone
Lift up the receiver
I’ll make you a believer
I will deliver
You know I’m a forgiver
Reach out and touch faith
Your own Personal Jesus
Reach out and touch faith

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3 Responses to “Irreligious Song #2: Depeche Mode “Personal Jesus””

  1. JN said

    It’s a great song though. Heresy or not, that hook is catchy.

    Johnny Cash’s version has a different spin. Come to think of it, Johnny Cash could be thought of as a link between this post and the last. His cover of NIN’s “Hurt” was brilliant. His cover of “Personal Jesus” wasn’t quite as good.

  2. Bob said

    Yeah, the Cash version of “Personal Jesus” does a good job of ripping the sexuality out of the song, but bizarrely leaves in the stanza about being a “second best” sexual replacement for a metaphysical one. What Cash did with Hurt is amazing though, so here it is:

  3. Paulo said

    “Be your own… personal… Jesus…”

    This song is hilarious. Depeche Mode. I had heard the song back in the day, but this is the first time I’ve actually seen the video. Them in cowboy outfits (and sunglasses), like they’re in some Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western or something. Hahaha!

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