SPIRIT IN THE SKY by Norman Greenbaum (1969)

When I told my exwife I thought this was one of the top 40 songs of all time, she laughed and accused me of lying.  “You don’t really think that,” she said.

But it is.

Yes, it’s a song about Heaven by a Jew—which is weird—but the curling psychedelic whirl in the beginning, which pours over into a strange-sounding guitar riff that seems to echo into a fade out—is one of the most distinctive musical moments you’ll ever hear.  And then there’s the singing—Norman is out in front, but there’s a party in the background hosted by a gospel group called The Stovall Sisters.

As far as I know, it’s the only psychedelic gospel song out there.  And until it was featured in the trailer to Guardians of the Galaxy (maybe my favorite movie of all time), I thought I was the only one who liked it!  Take that, stupid wife!

So what does this do to my running list of the best 100 songs of all time?  Not much.  This is my fifth entry to the list, and it comes in dead last at #5.

  1. Layla by Derek and the Dominoes (1970) (link)
  2. Better Things by The Kinks (1981) (link); and: Covers of the top 30 Kinks songs here and here
  3. Misfits by the Kinks (1978) (link); and: Covers of the top 30 Kinks songs here and here
  4. Grindin’ by Clipse (2002) (link)
  5. Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum (1969)

Further listening: None.  Norman is the prototypical one-hit wonder.
Covers: Oh so many! And one of them, by Doctor and the Medics, actually reached #1 on the pop charts! And the Bollywood version is great too.

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