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  #1  
Old 02-24-2010, 12:14 PM
MovieMogul MovieMogul is offline
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Bible stories in non-religious songs

Let's list secular songs that specifically refer to stories from the Bible.

I'm not merely talking about a song that namedrops Jesus, Moses, etc. And not a a traditional or spiritual number performed by a secular artist.

I mean a popular/secular song that references a specific story from either the old or new testament. We'll also exclude songs from the stage or screen that are themselves Biblical adaptations (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Prince of Egypt, etc.)

For starters:

"Let's Misbehave" (Cole Porter): When Adam won Eve's hand, he wouldn't stand for teasin'/He didn't care about those apples out of season.
"Highway 61 Revisited" (Bob Dylan): Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"/Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on."
"Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen): David and his music in the 1st verse, plus Your faith was strong but you needed proof/You saw her bathing on the roof in the 2nd
"Pride" (U2): Jesus isn't mentioned by name, but given the context of the song, it's obvious who One man betrayed with a kiss is.
"Fallin'" (Connie Francis): Like Delilah's home in town/When Samson tore it down, plus Jericho reference, too
"The Call of the Wild" (David Byrne): God told Noah “Build an ark”
"There Once Was a Man" from The Pajama Game: Adam & Eve, There once was a man who loved a woman/She was the one he ate the apple for.
"It Aint' Necessarily So" from Porgy and Bess lists David & Goliath, Moses in the river, Jonah in the whale, and even Methusalah.
"Miracle of Miracles" from Fiddler on the Roof also lists David & Goliath, plus Moses and the Red Sea, Daniel in the lion's den, and Joshua & Jericho
"The Good Book Song" from A Mighty Wind mentions David & Goliath and Noah and the Ark.
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  #2  
Old 02-24-2010, 12:18 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Danzig's "Twist of Cain" (about Cain and Abel).
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  #3  
Old 02-24-2010, 12:25 PM
Götterfunken Götterfunken is offline
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"Dead" (Pixies): Tells a somewhat abbreviated version of the story of King David and Bathsheba ("Uriah hit the crapper...hit the crapper...dead")
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  #4  
Old 02-24-2010, 12:31 PM
Monstera deliciosa Monstera deliciosa is offline
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Hard Headed Woman, performed by Elvis Presley (written by Claude Demetrius.) The three verses reference the stories of Adam and Eve, Samson and Delilah, and Ahab and Jezebel (though Ahab is just referred to as a King.)

Lyrics here.
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  #5  
Old 02-24-2010, 12:46 PM
Biffy the Elephant Shrew Biffy the Elephant Shrew is offline
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Roy Harper's "Don't You Grieve," about the betrayal of Jesus as told by Judas.
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  #6  
Old 02-24-2010, 12:58 PM
Dogzilla Dogzilla is offline
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Does "Joy to the World" count, even if Jeremiah wasn't actually a bullfrog?
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  #7  
Old 02-24-2010, 01:08 PM
GilaB GilaB is offline
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Regina Spektor's Samson is narrated from the perspective of Samson's girlfriend who gives him a haircut.
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  #8  
Old 02-24-2010, 01:21 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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There's The Irish Rovers/Shel Silverstein's "The Unicorn", which is about how there aren't any unicorns today because they procrastinated for too long and didn't get on Noah's ark.
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  #9  
Old 02-24-2010, 01:29 PM
It's Not Rocket Surgery! It's Not Rocket Surgery! is offline
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"Tower of Babel" by Elton John.
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  #10  
Old 02-24-2010, 01:32 PM
Motorgirl Motorgirl is offline
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"I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago"

I don't know the song writer, but it was recorded by Elvis Presley (possibly others).
References Moses, King David, Jonah.

Lyrics here, with a million annoying animated ads:
http://www.metrolyrics.com/i-was-bor...s-presley.html

It's been many years since I heard the song, but bits of it get stuck in my head on a regular basis.
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  #11  
Old 02-24-2010, 01:39 PM
Kolga Kolga is offline
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Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors."
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  #12  
Old 02-24-2010, 01:44 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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The second verse of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne"

And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water.
And he spent a long time watching from a lonely wooden tower.
And when he knew for certain only drowing men could see him
He said "All men shall be sailors then until the sea shall free them.
But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open.
Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone.

I would also put Tom Paxton's "Jesus Christ SRO" in this catagory

Jesus, you're making it big on Broadway.
Gosh, it's good to see your name in lights.
Singing those rock and roll songs, by golly.
Betcha you learned them from Buddy Holly.
Bet you kept the heavenly angels up late at night.
A-picking up a backbeat.

Last edited by Annie-Xmas; 02-24-2010 at 01:46 PM..
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  #13  
Old 02-24-2010, 02:35 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Prodigal Son by the Rolling Stones
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  #14  
Old 02-24-2010, 02:43 PM
Equipoise Equipoise is offline
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"The Song of Solomon" by Kate Bush.
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  #15  
Old 02-24-2010, 02:46 PM
ministryman ministryman is offline
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"Turn, Turn, Turn" by The Byrds
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  #16  
Old 02-24-2010, 02:47 PM
MovieMogul MovieMogul is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
I would also put Tom Paxton's "Jesus Christ SRO" in this catagory

Jesus, you're making it big on Broadway.
Gosh, it's good to see your name in lights.
Singing those rock and roll songs, by golly.
Betcha you learned them from Buddy Holly.
Bet you kept the heavenly angels up late at night.
A-picking up a backbeat.
Got a chapter and verse for this "story"?
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  #17  
Old 02-24-2010, 03:04 PM
Reloy3 Reloy3 is offline
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"All You Zombies" from the Hooters - First verse is about Moses, second about Noah, and ends with a verse talking to "Holy Father".
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  #18  
Old 02-24-2010, 10:22 PM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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"Jesus was Way Cool" by King Missile, which alluded (however indirectly) the water-into-wine story
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  #19  
Old 02-25-2010, 03:04 AM
njtt njtt is online now
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Also Story of Isaac from Leonard Cohen's Songs from a Room.

We've got a lot of Leonard Cohen here.
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  #20  
Old 02-25-2010, 09:10 AM
astorian astorian is offline
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"Adam's Apple" by Aerosmith

Full lyrics are here:

http://www.elyrics.net/read/a/aerosm...le-lyrics.html

It offers a new spin on eating the apple i nthe garden of Eden.
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  #21  
Old 02-25-2010, 09:13 AM
astorian astorian is offline
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There's an old Irish drinking song called "Maloney Wants a Drink."

The lyrics are here:

http://www.kinglaoghaire.com/site/lyrics/song_483.html

All through history, and all through the Bible, Patrick John Maloney could be found seducing women and getting drunk. The songs alludes to Maloney being in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, and to Salome doing her dance of the 7 veils for him.
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  #22  
Old 02-25-2010, 09:20 AM
astorian astorian is offline
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Bob Marley's "Survival" alludes to Daniel in the lion's den, and the miraculous survival of Daniel's friends Shadrach, Meschach and Abedneg in the fire.

http://www.elyrics.net/read/b/bob-ma...al-lyrics.html
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  #23  
Old 02-25-2010, 09:22 AM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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The narrator in David Olney's Jerusalem Tomorrow is ready to observe--or take part in--a pretty big New Testament event.

(Emmylou covered the tune.)
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  #24  
Old 02-25-2010, 09:46 AM
Crotalus Crotalus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchiveGuy View Post
Got a chapter and verse for this "story"?
I had the same problem with John Prine's Jesus: The Missing Years.
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  #25  
Old 02-25-2010, 11:48 AM
It's Not Rocket Surgery! It's Not Rocket Surgery! is offline
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Forgot one: Creeping Death by Metallica is about the Hebrew plagues against Egypt.
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  #26  
Old 02-25-2010, 12:17 PM
Superfluous Parentheses Superfluous Parentheses is offline
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All women are bad, by the Cramps. The first half of the song is all bible stories. http://www.metrolyrics.com/all-women...cs-cramps.html
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  #27  
Old 02-25-2010, 12:25 PM
Biffy the Elephant Shrew Biffy the Elephant Shrew is offline
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The Residents' entire Wormwood album.
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  #28  
Old 02-25-2010, 12:27 PM
ToeJam ToeJam is offline
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Samson & Delilah by the Grateful Dead
Actually the Dead have plenty of songs that make Biblical references....
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  #29  
Old 02-25-2010, 12:49 PM
Biffy the Elephant Shrew Biffy the Elephant Shrew is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchiveGuy View Post
And not a a traditional or spiritual number performed by a secular artist.
would rule out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
Prodigal Son by the Rolling Stones
and
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToeJam View Post
Samson & Delilah by the Grateful Dead
...both being covers of old folk spirituals.
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  #30  
Old 02-25-2010, 02:26 PM
Simmerdown Simmerdown is offline
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"Man Smart (Woman Smarter)" recorded by Harry Belafonte et a whole lotta al.

Samson was the strongest man long ago
No one could a beat him, as we all know
Until he clash with Deliah on top of the bed
She told them all the strength was in the hair of his head

Also a verse about the Garden of Eden, and another about Methuselah, which I won't reproduce here to avoid quoting nearly half the song.
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  #31  
Old 02-25-2010, 02:30 PM
Pazu Pazu is offline
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How about "Rock Steady" by Sting?
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  #32  
Old 02-25-2010, 02:47 PM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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"God Gave Rock n Roll To You" by Kiss. Because on the eighth day, God created...
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  #33  
Old 02-25-2010, 03:15 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToeJam View Post
Samson & Delilah by the Grateful Dead
Not to be confused with Samson & Delilah by Bad Manners
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  #34  
Old 02-28-2010, 12:19 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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More Cohen: Last Year's Man

Some women wait for Jesus and some women wait for Cain.
So I hang upon my altar, and I hoist my ax again.
And I take the one who finds me back to where it all began,
When Jesus was the honeymoon and Cain was just a man.
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  #35  
Old 02-28-2010, 02:04 PM
dalej42 dalej42 is offline
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There are some in Supper's Ready by Genesis

Supper's Ready.

Last verse:

There's an angel standing in the sun, and he's crying with a loud voice,
"This is the supper of the mighty One",
The Lord of Lords,
King of Kings,
Has returned to lead His children home,
To take them to the new Jerusalem.
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  #36  
Old 02-28-2010, 11:45 PM
panamajack panamajack is offline
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Toy Matinee's Last Plane Out starts with the line, "Greetings from Sodom" and continues in that theme. More directly, the second verse begins:
There was one repressed do-gooder
And a few who still believed
Yes I think there were five good men here yesterday
But they were asked to leave


Don't forget the line "she cut your hair" in Cohen's Hallelujah.

The Burning Sensations had the song Belly of the Whale (with the chorus "I feel like Jonah in the ...").

edit:
Just recalled U2's Until the End of the World, more blatantly about the last night of Jesus.

Last edited by panamajack; 02-28-2010 at 11:48 PM.. Reason: added song
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  #37  
Old 03-01-2010, 08:07 AM
Hamadryad Hamadryad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reloy3 View Post
"All You Zombies" from the Hooters - First verse is about Moses, second about Noah, and ends with a verse talking to "Holy Father".
I think the Hooters considered themselves a Christian band, so I'm pretty sure "All You Zombies" doesn't really qualify as a non-religious song.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ministryman
"Turn, Turn, Turn" by The Byrds
Again, since the entire song is nothing but that one Corinthians verse, I don't know if you could call it non-religious. If Death Cab for Cutie did a song which started "In the beginning the world was without form and void" and sang nothing but Genesis 1-3 with a syncopated upbeat, I think it would still qualify as a religious song.
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  #38  
Old 03-01-2010, 08:40 AM
Quercus Quercus is offline
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Well, depending on whether you consider him secular or not, probably nearly half of Dylan's songs have some kind of passing Bible reference.

For instance "Shelter from the Storm" includes "In a little hilltop village / they gambled for my clothes" which I'm pretty sure comes from the New Testament story of Roman soldiers playing dice to see who got Jesus' cloak. You can find something like that in many, many, many Dylan songs, just little fragments, but a real story is referenced.

In fact, I think this list could get very, very long. The Bible is a pretty big cultural reference, even for godless rockers. Here, I'll add "Sympathy for the Devil", where the narrator is around for Jesus' "moment of doubt and pain".
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  #39  
Old 03-01-2010, 09:16 AM
phungi phungi is offline
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Pearl Jam's Given To Fly has Christ-like references:

Quote:
He floated back down 'cause he wanted to share
His key to the locks on the chains he saw everywhere
But first he was stripped and then he was stabbed
By faceless men, well, f*ckers
He still stands

And he still gives his love, he just gives it away
The love he receives is the love that is saved
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