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Zharth's Music Log

Week 38: Jesus Christ Superstar

Preface: Easter came early this year, but April's a better month for Jesus Christ Superstar after all. If you haven't ever seen/heard it, it's only the greatest rock opera ever made! I recommend the Original Cast Recording (featuring Ian Gillan of Deep Purple fame as Jesus Christ!) from 1970, or the phenomenal film version from 1973 (and corresponding soundtrack album). This week we'll listen to some of the best tracks from this rock opera.

Monday (4/07/08): Heaven On Their Minds [Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1973]
Comments: Contrary to popular belief, Jesus Christ Superstar is a story about Judas, not Jesus. The opera opens (after the overture) with Judas making his case against Jesus. It's not that Judas is evil, or that he hates Jesus, it's just that he sees Jesus heading in a dangerous direction, and he wants to steer him back on track. But unfortunately for him, God has his own plan for Jesus, and isn't above using Judas toward that end, as the poor pawn that he was fated to be. "All your followers are blind; too much heaven on their minds..."

Tuesday (4/08/08): Simon Zealotes/Poor Jerusalem [Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1973]
Comments: Larry Marshall puts in an incredible performance as Simon Zealotes, trying to convince Jesus that he has what it takes to conquer this world. But Jesus calmly rejects Simon's incomplete understanding of power and glory, knowing that true victory comes not from defeating one's enemies, but by accepting them into your heart. "To conquer death, you only have to die."

Wednesday (4/09/08): I Don't Know How To Love Him [Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1973]
Comments: Mary Magdalene wallows in doubt and uncertainty about her relationship with Jesus. Depending on who you ask, and which "truth"s you subscribe to, Mary Magdalene may be considered the progenitor of the bloodline of Christ. Regardless, here she is just a confused and loyal attendant, not sure of her role in Jesus' life, and certain only that she loves him. "I never thought I'd come to this; what's it all about?"

Thursday (4/10/08): The Last Supper [Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1973]
Comments: Judas confronts Jesus after being baited by his prophetic allegations, at the fateful Last Supper. This is the turning point where things start to get really serious. Judas runs off to bring in the fuzz while Jesus prepares for his dramatic one-to-one with God. Meanwhile, the other apostles calmly enjoy themselves, content that their names will be written forever in the logs of history. But among them, only Judas has the courage to sacrifice the man that 'clothes' Christ. "The end is just a little harder when brought about by friends."

Friday (4/11/08): Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say) [Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1973]
Comments: Jesus wanders alone through the garden of Gethsemane, questioning God's plan and his own ultimate fate. He asks for proof that his death will be meaningful, but inevitably accepts it on God's word. His doubt is transformed into determination to see the miserable plan through, confident that in the ultimate end, it will have been worth it. This is one of the most dramatic pieces in the opera, and has always been my personal favorite. "God, thy will is hard, but you hold every card."

Saturday (4/12/08): Trial Before Pilate [Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1973]
Comments: Jesus is brought before Pilate for the second time, and the priest Caiaphas makes his case to Rome - they want Jesus crucified. Pilate tries his best to understand the situation, and to help Jesus, but unfortunately for him, Jesus is determined to die. So Pilate grants his wish, which is also the wish of God. First Judas, and now Pilate's hands are stained against his will, for ever more. "What is truth? Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths - are mine the same as yours?"

Sunday (4/13/08): Superstar [Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1973]
Comments: Judas re-enters the picture (after hanging himself) and visits Christ, presumably in spirit form, in an indeterminate place and time, to finally make his point to Jesus, now that all is, effectively, said and done. "Did you mean to die like that, was that a mistake, or did you know your messy death would be a record breaker?"