Missionary Man

Album: Revenge (1986)
Charted: 31 14
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Songfacts®:

  • The lyrics for this song came from a poem that Annie Lennox had written. Musically, her bandmate Dave Stewart wanted to create a song that would play well in an arena setting, as he was inspired by the concert films Under A Blood Red Sky by U2 and Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads. British synthesizer bands weren't crossing over to big arena shows, and Stewart wanted to buck the trend. He wrote in The Dave Stewart Songbook: "'Missionary Man' opened the album and became a lynchpin song on the Revenge tour. I wanted to create a spiritual feeling at the opening of the song. I felt like an alchemist cooking up a weird brew of blues, rock and voodoo, with a strange mixture of guitars, synthesizers, backwards noises, and harmonica that spiraled toward the opening line, 'Well I was born an original sinner.' This was the perfect way to take our shows to another level."
  • In 1984, Annie Lennox married a Hare Krishna named Radha Raman, but the couple split up soon after. "'Missionary Man' had to do with my slight dabbling with Hare Krishna," Lennox told Q in 1991. "They're very similar to other fundamentalist religions, like Hasidic Jews; they want to go back to the old days, family values, us and them. And some of these values are very good. Hare Krishna is an extreme-looking cult and that attracted me. I like that they dared, that they didn't care what society thinks - I think Western society is really f--ked up - and just wanted to do what's right for them. But you have to beware of people giving you answers to everything. I found hypocrisy and double standards. But in a layman's sense, I'm still interested in Eastern philosophy and mysticism."
  • This won a Grammy for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.
  • Ann Wilson of Heart covered "Missionary Man" in 2022 with Kenny Wayne Shepherd on guitar and backing vocals from the Reverend Nathan Young Singers. "I chose that because of what's going on in the States right now, especially with this split between the left and the right, and the right being inhabited mostly by Christian white people," Wilson told Songfacts. "I decided it would be really fun to do that song and just do it up like a big megachurch production. So, I brought in a gospel choir. Forty people singing backup, and each one of them probably as good as a singer as I am!"

Comments: 4

  • Kenny from Dallas, TexasI think Missionary Man is one of Eurythmics very best tunes. This was their era where they were really a hard rock band instead of a synth band and this album along with Be Yourself Tonight had some awesome music. I didn't care for Ann Wilson's cover because her phrasing sounds like she's singing karaoke. I normally love her music but Missionary is a song that really shouldn't be covered, much like Ms. Wilson's versions of Alone and Barracuda.
  • Moss from Midwestas a queer kid, i read the missionary man as a treat to be avoided if at all possible
  • Mary O. from Omaha, NeAs a Catholic, I've grown up to love this song as Christians and Catholics are being persecuted right in our own USA. Annie's powerful voice and the powerful lyrics make me feel invincible as I sing it... of course with the sound cranked. Love this song!
  • Susan from Airdrie, -When I first heard this song when it first came out, I thought it sounded ugly and too raunchy. Luckily, it didn't stop me liking this amazing band. Now that I'm "old", I can enjoy this song for its genius. It doesn't sound so bad now that I'm seasoned up a bit. ;)
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