Monday Morning Music: Jesus Is Just Alright

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“Do do do do, do do do do,

Do do do do, do do oh yeah”

If you’ve ever listened to classic rock radio, you recognize the riff from The Doobie Brothers classic “Jesus Is Just Alright”.

I’ve always thought the song was pleasant enough but never really understood it. Like so much of what’s on the radio it was one of those songs where you just kind of hum along but don’t try to dig too deep into the lyrics.

“Is the song about how these guys are cool with Jesus? Or are they saying Jesus is just ‘o.k’ and they’re not too interested in what he has to say?” These are the questions I had about the song. 

After I heard the tune on the radio the other day I decided to finally do a little research. I think what I found might surprise you. And I think it might be an important reminder as you begin your work week this Monday.

“Jesus Is Just Alright” was made famous in the 70s as a Doobie Brothers single. But the song got it’s start as a gospel number.

Written and performed by The Art Reynolds Singers in 1966, “Jesus Is Just Alright” was meant to be a response to the “Hippie” culture of the time. The word “alright” of course being a popular slang term of the decade (think Matthew McConahaughey’s “alright alright alright”).

(Click Here if you can’t see the video above)

Art Reynolds and his band recorded the song and tossed it in the pile with a number of other studio cuts. Business as usual.

What they didn’t know was who was listening on on their recording session.

The drummer from The Byrds, another legendary rock group, happened to be in the studio at the time Reynolds was recording “Jesus Is Just Alright”. He dug the song and introduced it to his bandmates.

(Click Here if you can’t see the video above)

Something about the gospel tune struck the band. The Byrds recorded their own version which became a staple in their live sets – which is where The Doobie Brothers became familiar with it.

Something about this simple ditty kept catching the ear of these rock stars. The Doobie Brothers liked the song enough to record their own version. It became one of the biggest hits of their career. 40 years later, the song is still a staple on classic rock radio.

Now, who’s to stay if anyone in The Doobie Brothers is a Christian. None of the band members are publicly religious. But something about this gospel song spoke to them.

In much the same way, it’s hard to tell if the song has made a significant impact on the faith of people who listen to it. After all, it’s kind of an ambiguous tune. It doesn’t really prosthelytize. It doesn’t condemn. It just says Jesus seems like a cool guy.

Still, for over 40 years the term “Jesus Is Just Alright” has been ingrained in pop culture. The phrase has been sung over movie trailers, in rock halls, in people’s cars driving to work. It’s been sandwiched in between countless other contemporary songs on the radio for decades.

The song has inarguably brought Jesus to the forefront of popular culture. Whether intentionally or not The Doobie Brothers continue to bring His name to millions of listener’s minds for 3 minutes at a time when they wouldn’t normally be thinking of Him.

Art Reynolds could not have had a clue when he was writing “Jesus Is Just Alright” the impact it would have on the world. He was just doing his job. He had no idea who was watching and listening to his work. He had no idea the way his work would spread across the world.

The lesson of “Jesus is Just Alright” is that you never know who your work will inspire.

As you head into the office this Monday, you may think your work is meaningless. You may think you’re just doing your job, the same old thing you do everyday.

You’re wrong.

There are people around you watching, waiting, listening for something to show them if Jesus is just a fluke or just alright. The work you think is simple and basic may be the work that inspires the world 40 years from now.

Do your thing today. Write the song that’s on your heart. Don’t feel the pressure of changing the world.

Instead of thinking our actions are trivial, believe that doing your work this Monday may just have an impact on the world around you.

What would happen if you believed the work you’re doing today had the power to inspire someone?

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