Wait For It
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Al Green - "Jesus is Waiting"

The first eight songs on Al Green's Call Me are about women. The ninth and last is about Jesus. This divergence in subject matter is not matched by a divergence in sound; the song is as salacious as Stephen Dedalus. Tension between godliness and horniness is a favourite theme among soul singers - Sam Cooke sang it, as did Marvin Gaye, just as James Joyce wrote it, or even St. Augustine. St. A was a hedonistic young man with a predilection for petty theft and pretty ladies, but he found god in his twenties and later wrote a big book chronicling his conversion and everything else that ever happened to him ( c.f. The Confessions). "Jesus is Waiting" is Al Green's Confessions, except that one gets the sense that the sins being confessed (i.e. the subject matter of the previous eight songs) are so fresh that there's something, not disingenuous, but conflicted about his position. Green sings "Jesus is waiting" as if he's lying in bed with a naked woman saying, "Baby, I wish I could stay, but Jesus is waiting over at the diner, so I really gotta go." The song is a thank you to the son of god for being so patient in waiting through, not only Green's bawdy dalliances in life, but in song as well. The Reverend Al Green is a man of genuine religious faith, of course, but he only knows how to love in one, very sexy, way; what goes for women goes for Jesus, too. Hence, the track's undeniable seductiveness: just as Green repeatedly incants "Call me" on the album's first track in an attempt to assume himself into a carnal rendezvous, here he sings "Help me Help me Help me Help me," trying to assume himself into eternal light and god's good graces. Of course, the whole effort is pointless: either god doesn't exist, or he loves Al Green already, at least enough to give him a voice so sublime and a mind so musically refined.

At 3:26 he requests that the band "bring it", after which, confusingly, the music gets much quieter. Then he sings, "way, way, way, way down." The band knew, before Green could tell them, that he had something very important and very quiet to say: namely, it turns out, a wordless prayer in seven notes: a favourite child's perfect apology to a patient parent.


Posted by Jordan at July 11, 2007 5:42 PM

One of my favorite songs. EVER.

Posted by ekko at July 11, 2007 8:44 PM

I love Al Green. I wish it was in a very sexy way. Great post.

Posted by dave rawkblog at July 12, 2007 1:14 AM

Brilliant writing! Thanks.

Posted by garrincha at July 12, 2007 10:03 AM

Or John Donne who wrote deeply religious erotic poems and deeply erotic religious ones.

'Now off with those shooes, and then safely tread
In this love's hallowed temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes, Heaven's Angels us'd to be
Received by men: Thou Angel bring'st with thee
A heaven like Mohamets Paradice, and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know,
By this these Angels from an evil sprite,
They set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.

Posted by Inurbanus at July 15, 2007 12:13 AM


live, in all his glory

Posted by p m at July 21, 2007 12:26 AM

It's the converse (or inverse, I can never remember) of "Let's Get it On," where the profane comes out in such a spiritual, prayerful way, I have to remind myself it's about sex.

Posted by Mark at July 21, 2007 1:33 AM


Posted by NORMAN at October 16, 2007 2:17 AM

I love this song! Nice post. Thanks, Jordan.

Posted by Jonna at November 11, 2007 7:55 PM

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