I’d completely forgotten how much this stupid song used to piss me off but my local radio station has put it back in rotation so I get to rant all over again.
In the first place, two words: subjunctive voice. If the statement is speculative you don’t say “was” you say “were”. “What if God were one of us?” You should have learned this in junior high school. Oh, wait, I suppose you were too busy skipping school so you could learn how to barely play the guitar.
In the second place supposedly about 2000 years ago God WAS one of us! Ever heard of somebody named Jesus Christ? Or Christianity … does that ring a bell? It’s an entire religion based on the idea that – get this – for a while, God was one of us! Just a slob like one of us! Trying to make it on his own! That’s the whole fucking point of Christianity! God loved mankind enough to come live among us as a simple man and die a painful death.
So the answer to your question, “What if God was one of us?” is “Well, that would be Jesus.”
I think the fact that she seems to have missed a little movement called “Christianity” is entirely beside the point.
What chews my pickle is that it’s so droolingly, sophomorically, don’t-spill-the-bongwater-and-hey-pass-the-Frito’s amateurishly shallow. I’ve spouted deeper profundity on the toilet. I can just see some navel-gazing college freshman with a pot perma-grin looking blearily up and saying, “Hey man. What if, like, God was one of us, man?”
Quick web search turns up that it was written by Eric Bazilian (of the Hooters) for Joan Osborne. She was the first to record it (on 1995’s “Relish” album). Not exactly a cover. Appears to have been recorded in 1996 by Prince (or was he “formerly known as” then?).