Letter J- Jesus….The Missing Years- John Prine

This year for the 2023 A-Z Blog Challenge, I’m going to begin by listing a song or musical subject, and then see how fast and how far I can completely blow up my own “stream of consciousness,” and head “off the reservation,” by linking every real, and “Zulu Delta-imagined” fact, piece of music trivia, or not so apparent connection to what is racing around my head to that song in an “unstructured, graffiti-like” format. Complete and utter nonsense! Turn it up and turn it on, but as Van “The Man” Morrison said…….”It’s already turned on!”

John Prine released the Album “The Missing Years,” in 1991.

The song “Jesus; The Missing Years,” was on that album.

A clever little song and as John points out; “Jesus was one of the most influential and controversial people in all mankind, and ‘nobody’ knew where he was for 18 years.”



John was an Army veteran and when he came home to Chicago in the late 1960’s, he worked for the U.S Postal Service, and joined the local folk scene.

In 1971, He wrote the anti-war song “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore.”

John Prine

What’s so interesting to me is listening to the song in recent years, and not being able to tell the difference between now and 1971. The proliferation of American flags everywhere, as if that makes “you,” or a situation more patriotic. 

I can still see the gas station that put up several hundred small American Flags over their gas pumps as if it was the grand opening at the car wash. To me it was a cross between disrespect for the flag and a Nazi propaganda parade. 

Not long after the installation, the flags began to fall from the awning; soon to be run over by cars, soaked in oil and gas, and disregarded like so many plastic bottles by the highway side…..but still “Proud American Patriotism.”

In 1966 John Lennon of the Beatles commented that “they” had become more popular than Jesus. 

Not much became of the comment when published in London, but when the comments hit the “Southern Bible Belt” in the United States, all hell broke loose.

Tours, and interviews were cancelled. Records were burned. Airplay was banned for the Beatles. 

All these activities were not only unfortunate for the Beatles, but for the Bible Belt in general. Such activities and efforts to take on musicians only took away from their ever present dedicated “Christian Vocation” at the time of hanging men, wide-spread discrimination, and violence against poverty.

Time has softened the stance against musicians talking about Jesus. The Doobie Brothers sang “Jesus Is Just All Right With Me,” and the Depeche Mode sang about their own “Personal Jesus.”

Some brilliant Lou Reed Lyrics gives us this gem about the power of Jesus in the song “Romeo Had Juliette.”

“A diamond crucifix in his ear is used to help ward off the fear
that he has left his soul in someone’s rented car….”

Anyway…..I’m so glad we have musicians asking “real questions” and exposing “Fake Patriots,” and “Fake Christians.”

The world seems to have an abundance of both lately!

Let’s leave with a video of Lou Reed…..

Romeo Had Juliet Lyrics

Caught between the twisted stars the plotted lines the faulty map
that brought Columbus to New York
Betwixt between the East and west he calls on her wearing a leather vest
the earth squeals and shudders to a halt
A diamond crucifix in his ear is used to help ward off the Fear
that he has left his soul in someone’s rented car
Inside his pants he hides a mop to clean the mess that he has dropped
into the life of lithesome Juliette Bell
And Romeo wanted Juliette
And Juliette wanted Romeo
Romeo Rodriguez squares his shoulders and curses Jesus
runs a comb through his black pony-tail
He’s thinking of his lonely room
the sink that by his bed gives off a stink
Then smells her perfume in his eyes
and her voice was like a bell
Outside the streets were steaming the crack dealers were dreaming
of an Uzi someone had just scored
I betcha I could hit that light with my one good arm behind my back
says little Joey Diaz
Brother give me another tote those downtown hoods are no damn good
those Italians need a lesson to be taught
This cop who died in Harlem you think they’d get the warnin’
I was dancing when his brains ran out on the street
And Romeo had Juliette
And Juliette had her Romeo
I’ll take Manhattan in a garbage bag with Latin written on it that says
“It’s hard to give a shit these days”
Manhattan’s sinking like a rock, into the filthy Hudson what a shock
they wrote a book about it, they said it was like ancient Rome
The perfume burned his eyes holding tightly to her thighs
and something flickered for a minute and then it vanished and was gone

8 thoughts on “Letter J- Jesus….The Missing Years- John Prine

  1. Hey ZD – since you mentioned Lou Reed, it’s worth noting that the Velvets also had a song entitled “Jesus”; it was on their third album, released in 1969. Rare for its time, to be sure. I’ll date myself by adding that it concluded Side 1 of the album, an album that was much softer than their first two head-bangers, in an almost meditative way. Side 2 opened with (wouldn’t you know?) “Beginning To See the Light”….


  2. Just recently rediscovered John Prine….I love his music and lyrics. So wish I had figured that out before he went to the big folk festival in the sky.
    Great blog!


  3. Pingback: A-Z Blog Challenge Wrap Up!!! | Zulu Delta 45

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s