Frank Zappa

Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk

Song Review by

From many points of view, "Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk" stands out as Frank Zappa's strongest new song from the 1988 tour. Lyrically, it constitutes his most entertaining and all the while strongest take on televangelists, fundamentalist Republicans, and the American redneck philosophy in general. Music-wise, it allies the loose Broadway musical theme of that tour with Zappa's talent for quoting irrelevant elements of Americana and a cynical town's fair-type music. The prime target this time is televangelist Pat Robertson, who ran for the U.S. presidency in 1988: "Robertson says that he's The One/Oh he sure is/If Armageddon/Is Your idea of family fun." Zappa establishes links between Robertson's crowd of born-again Christians, members of the National Rifle Association, anti-abortion groups, and the Ku Klux Klan. The message is clear: the election of a man like him could mean danger for civil rights. Halfway into the song, Eric Buxton delivers a harangue, reading the controversial resume of the televangelist (which includes tax evasion problems and ties to Oliver North) and concluding that voting for him would be like following him into "The Twilight Zone." Zappa summarizes: "Jesus will think I'm a jerk, just like you/If you let those TV Preachers/Make a monkey out of you!" As if the composer was aware of this song's synthetic quality, he threw in a finale copied on "Louie Louie," the most often quoted piece of pop culture in his oeuvre. "Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk" was performed regularly during the first half of the 1988 tour. It was released on Broadway the Hard Way and was also part of the concerts Zappa's Universe.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1990 Siesta
Understanding America 2012 Universal / Zappa Records 9:17