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Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode

Album: ViolatorReleased: 1989Charted:
  • This was inspired by Priscilla Presley's book Elvis And Me, where she described their relationship. Martin Gore of Depeche Mode said: "It's a song about being a Jesus for somebody else, someone to give you hope and care. It's about how Elvis was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships - how everybody's heart is like a god in some way, and that's not a very balanced view of someone, is it?"
  • Johnny Cash did a stripped-down version on his 2002 album American IV, The Man Comes Around. Martin Gore revealed to The London Times that the band were unaware that Cash had covered this song. When they heard about the country legend's recording, the threesome were naturally thrilled. Said Gore: "I think when you're somebody of Johnny Cash's caliber, you don't ask for permission."

    Cash explained why he chose to cover this song (as quoted in Mojo October 2013): "I heard that as a gospel song. And if you think of it as a gospel song, it works really well. We didn't have any major disagreement over that song, I just heard that a couple of people had recorded it, the writer wanted me to try it, and I did, and I loved it. And I went for it."
  • This was the biggest-selling 12-inch single in Warner Bros. history to that point.
  • The video was the first by Depeche Mode to get significant airplay on MTV. Directed by Anton Corbijn, it has an Old West theme, with Dave Gahan and Martin Gore as cowboys.

    During the heavy breathing section of the song (around 2:20), there are some tight silhouette shots of Gore huffing, and then a shot of a horse's hindquarters. "I don't know if Anton was consciously trying to be perverted, I think it was more coincidental that it happened at that point," Gore told Uncut. "These video people see things very strangely."

    It was a little too much for MTV, so Corbijn made an edit eliminating some of the silhouette breathing, and that was the version the network aired.
  • Marilyn Manson covered this on their 2004 album Lest We Forget. This version was used in the trailer for the 2011 movie Priest. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Elliot - St. Louis, MO
  • The 2008 Hillary Duff song "Reach Out" is based on this track. Duff's tune changes the lyrics from "Reach out and touch faith" to "Reach out and touch me."
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Comments: 43

A cover of this song by Shaka Ponk, a french band : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cpiPIkNfvUMarjorie - France
Martin Gore (songwriter) already explained the song's origin (quoted above)... But the official video at least suggests an alternative interpretation... The DM guys visit a brothel... A prostitute becomes their personal jesus...Benoit - Montreal
This song is one of my all time favorites. As a musician, the composition is awesome. It's so strong in the the rhythm and melody that it just grabbed me from the first time I heard it. As a lyricist, it is many things to many people, but I was curious what it's writer's intention was. What I found out is that The it really doesn't matter. The point is it's written so masterfully that it CAN mean many things,depending on your mood or intention. That is true genius! After all here we are almost 30 years after it's initial release and we are still talking about it. When you put it all together, this song speaks past words and that is why it is a perfect example of how music is the language of the soul.Lana - Scottsbluff, Ne
I thought it was about tele-evangelistsDaniel Wheeler - Tulsa, Ok
This page just details my opinion that every time you mention something related to religion in a song, people start getting crazy about either endorsing of pushing it or shooting it down.

Guys, relax a little. It's Songfacts.com, not a site for a flame war.
Keenan - Singapore, Singapore
i cant believe someone let hillary duff use the riff and then change the whole meaning of it. its disgusting.Chai - Los Angeles, Ca
This song has a double meaning which is often seen in phenominally AMAZING songs. #1 is about being in a onesided relationship(Priscilla/Elvis)#2 And one I relate to the most, is showing how sick extreme religious people are. When I hear this song I think of all the messed up stuff that the organized religions do on a daily bases( death bed confessions, stealing money from tithers, pediphil monks,nuns throwing babies in garbages after having them....)Its crazy, I LOVE THIS SONG! :)Juliette - Salt Lake City, Ut
I like the breakdown in this song. Also I agree with Austin from smallsville Personal Jesus is just a metaphor for what makes you happy.Quinn - Smallsville, Argentina
wow, mary from edmonton, canada just gives a speech on religion not saying anything about the song. i don't think "jesus" is the christian's jesus. it's just a word used with many different meanings in the song. it's up to everyone's interpretation. some think it's the real jesus, some say it's anti-christ likened, some say about pedephiles (where you get that i don't know) but the song is great & catchy even when you get sick of hearing it on the radio (like i did when violator 1st came out) you find yourself singing with it. i haven't heard johnny cash's version of it but will do so now. i think that marilyn manson's version is so different i cannot compare the two. to say that marilyn manson is the anti-christ need to stop being so literal about him. he is very intelligent and i agree with toby, uk, united kingdom's explanation of marilyn manson. he knows more about the politics of this country and what buttons he can push to get a reaction, sometimes getting that reaction is good b/c it brings about conversations rarely discussed. he is not an evil person. his music is "shock rock" to get a rise out of the conservative america. people don't take things so literaly...but if your interpretation leads you to believe those things i would recommend just stop listening to the song and put it out of your head.April - Raleigh, Nc
This song combines multiple influences. New wave-blues-rock-techno. No easy feat. But I agrea with Cj personal jesus is a momento to something you love. Wether it be material,an idea or a human.Austin - Smallsville, New England
I think this song is about anything you love and makes you happy. hence Personal Jesus. Whats yours?Cj - Vermont, Vt
I like this song. The beat and bass in this song hypnotic. I happy to get to read the lyrics and get a better idea of what the song is about. Don't think it is anti religious at all. I lot of people claim to walk with God but truly have other earthly things that they run to to ease pain or make them happy instead of having faith in God and praying to him. Maybe these material things represent their personal Jesus. Just a quick thought.Constance - Dallas, Tx
Regardless of all the other comments here, Jeff from SC is right: DM are an underappreciated group who influenced many forms of music.Joe - Grove City, Oh
Toby's comment seems to be the most sane here. And the only one that makes sense. Pedophilia, is it a joke? Christian? Anti-Christ? Men, you are looking too much for him (any of them) to find it on this lyrics...Liomar - Aracaju, Brazil
First, let me say, DEPECHE MODE made the original song. NOT Marilyn Manson and NOT Johnny Cash. DEPECHE MODE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please don't say you like Manson's better or Cash's better. Your opinion is fine, but it is offensive to the fans of Depeche Mode and the original song. This song is not about Satanic worship, it's not about praising the lord. It's about having someone that you can rely on for moral support; someone you can talk to. It's catchy, upbeat, original and absolute perfection just the way it is.Angelica - Los Angeles,
what a bizarre list of comments, interpretations and occassionally utterly random nonsense written about this song!!
Dave Gahan (DM lead singer) was not a junkie at the time of recording Violator. So i cant where the heroin idea came from. He was also not the songwriter (has only just started writing DM songs on the last album). It was written by the main DM songwriter Martin Gore.

As Gore has often said, the songs he writes rarely have a specific context/meaning/single reference point. an exception was 'precious' on their last album, which he directly attributed to his recent divorce.

As for Personal Jesus, the one thing it's unlikely to be about is paedophiles! But as Gore says, they're up for interpretation, so the person who wrote that on here probably sees it in that light. Ditto to the devil worship suggestions-which probably come from the marilyn manson cover of this...but if you actually ever listened to Marilyn Manson when he's interviewed (not a devil worshipper, but an artist out to shock 'middle america'!)- he's actually more switched on and informed than half the over-white-teeth smiling insincere people currently filling american media and politics!! haha! I'd rather have him in charge of the country any day over the likes of George Bush- for a start, he'd at least to be able to point to countries on a map!

Anyway, my interpretation of the song, probably mainly due to the influence of the original video, is that it is about prostitution/phone sex/televangelism/the church- which all often provide people with a shoulder to cry on, and support them in some way, and usually always for money (hookers or the church!)... "someone to hear your preys, someone who cares"..."lift up the receiver, I'll make you a believer"...

anyway, regardless on your take, it's got a great guitar line, great stomping beat, and the 'reach out and touch faith' bit is always fab when you see the song live and the whole crowd sing it at the same time, arms raised!! long live DM!!!
Toby - Uk, United Kingdom
This song has no pro-Jesus content whatsoever. Depeche Mode clearly is not religious, look at Blasphemous Rumours by example where they say God's got a sicks sense of humour. So more of an agnostic view on it. Personal Jesus has nothing to do with the Christian Jesus. This song doesn't have to do anything with pedophiles either. It's just about having someone you can always rely on and trust. Not about heroin or drugs. Depeche Mode's one is the original, Cash and Manson covered it.Michael - Heers, Belgium
Jesus never wanted any children to ever be raped -or the horrors and suffering inflicted upon the innnocent.
We are in the "valley of the shadow of death." The devil, cast out of heaven reigns on this 65-80 years we live. That is why we reach out and touch faith. Reach out through all the obstacles and diversions that stop you from really knowing Christ. reach out for a life of eternity.
Open the Bible. It's in two parts, the Old Testament is a hard read for beginners but you will want to read it after you know your God.
Whatever was taking and added to this book, they will be punished.
But there is enough left of the true world of God that if you are willing there is a cool drink in a world of murky waters.
There is forgiveness for those that want it and the devil can punish you no more. Once forgiven it is only the devil who accuses you and reading the bible will give you complete control of your thoughts, your self esteen... YOUR WORTH.
You have to pick up the receiver.
The Lord welcomes all sinners. It is the greatest "COME TO HIM AS YOU ARE PARTY" ever. As you are, you are welcome at his banquet. God Bless all who come to God from wherever the journey leads them from.
Mary - Edmonton, Canada
Jamelia sampled this song in late 2006 in her hit single "Beware of the dog".Dana - Amman, Jordan
The song is written from a pedaphile point of view. It goes through the process of when a pedaphile listens to your problems "your own personal jesus. Someone to hear your prayers, someone who cares.....someone whos there" just with the intention of gaining ur trust to rape yo later on. It is not a christian song just because it has jesus in it. Get it right people!!!!David - Miami, Fl

Take a listen to Mr. Cash's "Personal Jesus". Its the essence of the song. All the others are just acoustics. Although DM is pretty good. MM???? Just an imitation.
Ari - Krabi, Other
Violater was the first cd I ever bought. I put it in at the record store and after hearing about 2 seconds of this song I took it home. In my top 3 greatest albums of all time. Cash and Manson did good versions-shows you how great and underappreciated this truly group is.Jeff - Columbia, Sc
SUCK COCKMr. Rs - D.f., Mexico
This is a great song and I do believe Depeche Mode did it best because they rock but if I had to pick a favorite cover I would have to agree with that Michael person because Lollipop Lust Kill did a great cover but it amazes me how many covers there are. Many bands including Gravity Kills, John Lord Fonda, No Apto(Spanish Version), and of course Manson and Cash have done covers. Its obvously a great song that many artists are using for their own reputaions and in doing so changing the idea behind the original song. It is really a bit funny if you think about it.Amanda - Las Vegas, Nv
Petter,Angelholm,Sweden-me and you are on the same page. Although I've never heard the original to this one, so I can't say if it's better.Jon - Oakridge, Or
Just because a song says "jesus" in it does not make it a religious song.
The song is about looking at people as if they see jesus.
This song was writted according to the writer after he read Elvis and me. That is a fact!
As far as Marilyn Manson being the anti christ...well maybe if he didnt attend private religious schools while growing up he wouldnt have turned out the way he did.
David - Austin, Tx
This song is talking about Satan. Marilyn Manson is an antichrist. Get it right.Guess - North Andover, Ma
I'm not sure about the exact meaning of this song, but i'm pretty sure its about heroin. Dave Gahan, the singer, was a junkie around the time this album was recorded. The lyrics 'your own personal jesus... reach out touch faith" make me assume he's reaching out and shooting up. though i haven't done heroin i've heard it described as simply the greatest feeling ever, which christians describe jesus as.Ellon - Brooklyn, Ny
Johnny Cash was a pretty forward thinking dude, especially in his old age. I recommend anyone who liked Cash's cover of Depeche Mode's song to check out his cover of "Hurt" by Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails.
DM's version is good, but I like Manson's better; I agree with Cam.
Mike - Chicago, Il
First head this song on GTA San Andreas and loved it straight away. I like the Lollipop Lust Kill version the better but the original still has an awesome feel to it.Dev01d - Wollongong, Australia
I thought that this song had to do with televangelists - call up a number, talk to someone, have someone pray for you... confess your sins.Tom - Fort Collins, Co
I wondered if it was an Anti-christ song. It really doesn't seem like it. The music does for Manson's, but I don't think the lyrics are anything like that. Just happens to be a phrase relating to Jesus.James - Whangarei
Johnny Cash covers Depeche Mode. Never thought I'd see those two in the same sentence.Nathan - Defiance, Oh
I am by no means a big Manson fan, but I think his/their version is superior. I like his vocals better it just sounds more impressive then the Depeche Mode version. I found the CD Lest We Forget sitting on a stone cairn (odd eh?) and I think Personal Jesus is the best song on there. Also, I had not even heard of Depeche Mode until I researched the song more.Cam - Winnipeg
one of the few songs (close to the only, maybe THE only) where the original is better than Johnny Cash's cover.Petter - Ã?ngelholm, Sweden
I use to have to listen to this song played at high volums during my 1st year at Ball State while living in a basement apartment. My neighbor above me would put it on repeat at all hours of the day. I got so sick of this tune, but have grown to enjoy it again after about fourteen years.Dee - Indianapolis, In
I prefer the cover done by a Toledo, OH based band called Lollipop Lust Kill. More hardcore, heavy metal riff than Manson's version.Michael - Grand Prairie, Tx
I like depeche modes and Mansons both a lot...Reach out and touch faithVille - Chicago, Il
I like Manson's cover better :)Ishan - Lake Mary, Fl
Sounds like an anti-christ song.Aj - Cleveland, Ga
One of the songs that has its own dance.Chris - Cleveland, Oh
When this song was about to released, Depeche Mode put an add in a newspaper saying: "Your own personal Jesus, please call this number. When dialing this number, you got to hear a few seconds of the song! Pretty cool ey? :)Superdigital - Kalmar, Sweden
This Song Was Covered By Marilyn Manson, On His Greatest Hits Album, "Lest We Forget".Chris - Andover, Mn
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