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Author Topic: "When Jesus Left Birmingham" in search of understanding  (Read 7411 times)
STLcharlie
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« on: March 25, 2011, 11:56:32 pm »

Has anyone ever seen or heard of Mellencamp's explanation of "When Jesus Left Birmingham?" In preparation for an upcoming concert, I sent my 60-year-old brother Mellencamp's "Words & Music" greatest hits collection. My brother, a teacher, wrote back: "The song I found most interesting, though, was 'When Jesus Left Birmingham' - probably because I'm not quite sure of his message, although I have a few ideas.  However interesting, I find its lyrics too mysterious and challenging to fully decipher.  I think the song's about the bombings of black churches in Alabama decades ago, yet there seems to be more there that I can't wrap my mind around. Of all of his songs, this is the one I think I'd most like to sit down and question him about." Any comments?
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Maradona10
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2012, 03:48:45 am »

Yeah...a belated reply here, but a reply nevertheless.
Fascinating song, and I agree with Kenny Aronoff when he *suggested* it may be Mellencamp's coolest song. I remember an interview in '93 wherein JM stated he was inspired to write this after a show in Amsterdam in '92; he was either staying in The Hague or had passed through it and was weirded out by the debauchery on display and for sale...


*edited* to correct typo due to this damn touchscreen autocorrect thing.

That's the article down below in your new post, walktall, that I must've seen somewhere; maybe an old copy of MtM I had back then...
« Last Edit: October 09, 2012, 06:34:22 pm by Maradona10 » Logged
walktall2010
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2012, 09:46:27 am »

"I wrote 'When Jesus Left Birmingham' in Amsterdam in 1992," explains
Mellencamp, "after driving back at 2 a.m. from a concert we'd done
down in The Hague. When we got to the hotel, it looked like Sodom and
Gomorrah, with dozens of well-dressed businessmen all around the area
picking up prostitutes and going wild. I thought, 'There's something
wrong here: It's a Wednesday night, at an hour when anybody sane is
asleep, and these people are just getting started!' It gave you the
sense that there's no bottom line any more in any one's behavior."
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kissfreakmike
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2012, 10:05:53 am »

I have read the explanations and everything but I would still the relationship to Birmingham. If it is B'ham Al. I live about 45 minutes from there and would love to know the answer.
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dolly23
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2012, 11:34:07 am »

Would love to know what John was thinking when he wrote many of his songs.
That would be a fantastic interview with him---short synopsis of many of the
songs  background.
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Maradona10
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2012, 06:15:21 am »

He also played Birmingham, England on April 10th 1992(I was there, 16 years old...time flies); I've often wondered.if this show was right after inspiration hit him in Amsterdam and he went with the English town's name for the song.
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