What If God Was One Of Us?

A nursing home I often visit is located across from the State Fairgrounds. One of the fair’s outdoor concert venues is actually directly across the street from the nursing home. Sunday night, as I left the nursing home, I heard this:

If God had a name, what would it be

And would you call it to his face

If you were faced with him in all his glory

What would you ask if you had just one question

And yeah yeah God is great yeah yeah God is good

yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

What if God was one of us

Just a slob like one of us

Just a stranger on the bus

Trying to make his way home

If God had a face what would it look like

And would you want to see

If seeing meant that you would have to believe

In things like heaven and in jesus and the saints and all the prophets

And yeah yeah god is great yeah yeah god is good

yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

What if God was one of us

Just a slob like one of us

Just a stranger on the bus

Trying to make his way home

He’s trying to make his way home

Back up to heaven all alone

Nobody calling on the phone

Except for the pope maybe in rome

And yeah yeah God is great yeah yeah God is good

yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

What if god was one of us

Just a slob like one of us

Just a stranger on the bus

Trying to make his way home

Just trying to make his way home

Like a holy rolling stone

Back up to heaven all alone

Just trying to make his way home

Nobody calling on the phone

Except for the pope maybe in rome

I froze. It was Joan Osborne singing One of Us, the Eric Bazilian song that is perhaps the most meaningful pop song ever written.

When I first heard this song in 1995, it felt as if every hair on my body was standing up. Drop the Catholic references and make God His Shekhina and you have a profound lament about galut (exile), as poignant to our times as Jeremiah was in his.



“Relish” (Joan Osborne)

The Rob Chertoff-produced 1995 Joan Osborne version is simply stunning. For those of you who are makil (lenient) with kol isha, iTunes has it available for download. Get the 1995 version from her debut album Relish. Or click on the album for an Amazon link.

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9 Comments

Filed under Music

9 responses to “What If God Was One Of Us?

  1. avraham

    Figures a shmendrik like you would find anything of worth in these shallow vapid lyrics.

    I dont doubt that you can imagine Hashem being a slob like you, but thankfully I know you cant reduce the Borei Olam to nothing as a gimmick to sell records.

    Its a shame you have such a nihilistic conception of Hashem and the Shechina, but then the misery you vomit in this blog is testimony to how little of Hashem you seem to have in your life.

  2. “thankfully I know you cant reduce the Borei Olam to nothing as a gimmick to sell records.”

    You mean like Mordechai Ben David, Avraham Fried, and almost every other “frume” musician working. Or are they different because they have beards?

  3. I suppose you won’t like this hip hop, either. I find it meaningful:

    Infidelity On K Street
    ©Notorious Samarious / HoodFmSongs

    Hey, girl, remember when you loved me?
    When you held on and wouldn’t leave me?
    It wasn’t about no money or fame
    You didn’t hang your head in shame

    So, what’s up with that?
    You runnin’ with a rat
    Your ass wrapped in skin tight spandex
    Like a three dollar Brooklyn whore?

    Didn’t I save you from all that?
    from a barren wilderness, 
through a land of deserts and rifts
    a land where one travels but cannot live?
    Didn’t I, girl?

    Love will conquer all
    Every child has to fall
    Love will conquer all
    Every child has to fall

    Your wickedness will punish you,
    your backsliding will rebuke you.
    Consider this and realize
    how evil and bitter it is for you
    girl in my eyes –
    Whore.

    It’s not too late, girl
    love can conquer your fate
    Your daddy’s still waitin’
    Time’s wastin’, don’t be late

    Do I have to beat you?
    Make you bleed and deceive you?
    Make your children run in fear
    ’cause Daddy’s commin’ near
    to beat you?

    Love will conquer all
    Every child has to fall
    Love will conquer all
    Every child has to fall

    ‘Cause your wickedness will punish you,
    your backsliding will rebuke you.
    Consider this and realize
    how evil and bitter it is for you
    girl in my eyes –
    Whore.

    Love will conquer all
    Every child has to fall
    Love will conquer all
    Every child has to fall

    Love will conquer all
    Every child has to fall
    Love will conquer all
    Every child has to fall

  4. D

    Of course, you realize that Osbourne’s lyrics are juxtaposed to songs about collapsing on the floor after excessive drug indulgence and Ray Charles A”H being able to see. Not exactly the stuff of clarity.

    I’m just sayin’…

  5. Avraham

    “You mean like Mordechai Ben David, Avraham Fried, and almost every other “frume” musician working. Or are they different because they have beards?”

    But you didnt quote them did you??? As usual dodge and avoid. You quoted that nebish Osborne so thats what I was addressing. You must have failed school heavily when you answered test papers the way you just did my remark.

  6. And if I did quote them? Please.

    And, speaking of doing poorly in school, you’ll note, if you actually read the post, that Eric Bazilian wrote One of Us. It is him that I’m quoting.

    And what about Notorious’ song? I suppose you find that somehow offensive, as well?

  7. Shmarya-

    How can you compare Mordechai Ben David and Avraham Fried to Joan Osborne? It’s like apples and oranges. These singers use their songs to elevate the Torah and uplift spirits, not depress people. The same goes for John Lennon’s atheist anthem- “Imagine.”

    HOwever, I do take issue when performers like Fried and Yaakov Shwekey perform before “yellow flag” crowds.

  8. B”H
    I don’t understand you guys.
    The Holy Baal Shem Tov taught that everything has holy sparks in it that casual words of a goy in the marketplace can contain a prophecy if you are able to decipher it…
    Kalever Rebbe (and many others including not only Rebbes but simple Jews like us) elevated folk songs about love and romance and drinking songs into realm of holynes by infusing them with a new meaning.
    How can one not see the symbolism in the song Shmarya quotes?
    Why should one try to put down a person instead of trying to read the song once again keeping in mind that ultimatly Hashem inspired the author to write it and singer to sing it and placed Shmarya in time (now is Elul remember? ) and place where he was inspired to see the inner meaning of it…

  9. Avraham

    Hey Sokolovsky, you dont understand us? well heed the holy sparks in these words. Your fraudulent messiahs forebear thought that your way of life was bogus and didnt want to be associated with it. Even uprooted himself to get away from your kind.
    And of course you dont say nothing about your peers in the stories presented here or do you think lying and cheating and defrauding people is also eleveating holy sparks as well???

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