Woody Guthrie

Jesus Christ

Song Review by

If it wasn’t for the Library of Congress and small record labels like Folkways, it’s doubtful that Woody Guthrie’s “Jesus Christ” would’ve ever been recorded. Guthrie’s portrait of Jesus paints the Christian prophet as a militant Marxist, commanding the rich to sell their goods and give to the poor. He carries his political statement one step further, however, by noting that if Christ preached the same message today, he’d be crucified once again (presumably by many people who profess the Christian message). Guthrie wrote of the song: “…If He [Jesus] was to walk into New York City and preach like he use to. … they’d lock Him up back in Jail as sure as you’re reading this.” The lyrics are hard hitting and graphic, with lines blaming cops, bankers, soldiers, landlords, and preachers as being the ones who “nailed Him in the sky.” Guthrie first recorded the song for Alan Lomax at the Library of Congress in 1940 and recorded it again for Moses Asch at Folkways where it was released on Woody Guthrie in 1944. In 1947 Guthrie added four verses to the song.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1977 Warner Bros.
Folkways: The Original Vision 1988 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings 2:35
This Land Is Your Land: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 1 1997 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings 2:36
The Asch Recordings, Vol. 1-4 1999 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings 2:36
Ramblin' Round 2000 Recall (UK) 2:40
The Ultimate Collection [Prism Leisure] 2002 Prism Leisure 2:39
Hard Travellin' 2003 Prism Leisure 2:39
American Folk Legend 2005 Golden Stars 2:38
This Land Is Your Land: The Original Dust Bowl Ballads and Other Folksongs 2006 Discmedi / Discmedi Blau 2:45
BD Folk: Woody Guthrie 2007 BD Music / Nocturne Records
Original Folk: The Best of Woody Guthrie 2008 Demon Records / Music Club Deluxe / Music Club Records 2:38
Classic Protest Songs from Smithsonian Folkways 2009
Various Artists
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
My Dusty Road 2009 Rounder Select / Rounder 2:44
Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial 2012 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings 2:40
American Radical Patriot 2012 Concord / Rounder 4:15