Jesus Shootin' Heroin

Album: Hear It Is (1986)
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Songfacts®:

  • Hear It Is is the first full-length album by the Oklahoma-based rock band The Flaming Lips. Frontman Wayne Coyne told Red Bull Music Academy the story behind the track "Jesus Shootin' Heroin" in 2017. He said: "I think we wanted to appear to be menacing and deep and represent some dark, unspeakable version of life in the Bible Belt or something like that, even though us as the Flaming Lips, we never considered the Bible or the Bible Belt or being in a religious state like Oklahoma. We never really cared, we never really thought about it. But in 'Jesus Shootin' Heroin,' we thought it would make people think that we were crazy and menacing and drug addicts or whatever, even though we really weren't. It's a long song. I remember it being sort of dirge-y, and I think it's in E minor or something like that. When I hear it now, it doesn't sound anything like the Flaming Lips that I remember, and I really like it. It's just such a strange, strange song and I could understand why people would think that something is going wrong and we're weird and we're pretentious all at the same time."
  • Wayne took over as lead singer when his brother, Mark Coyne, left the band shortly after singing lead on The Flaming Lips' debut, self-titled EP in 1984.
  • Although Wayne has a fondness for the band's early records, he doesn't take them seriously. "I mean, we were just so ridiculous!" he told Consequence of Sound in 2017. "I don't think any of us had the confidence to think that we were interesting enough to sing about our own lives. Instead, we would make things up, never knowing what the hell we were singing about. I applaud any band that's willing to make a fool of themselves and just go for it."
  • Wayne also explained how the album changed his way of singing: "That first album forced me to find a way to sing more emotionally. Back then, it was a lot of screaming and out-of-tune guitar. We are always trying to be more emotional, and if we hadn't been able to do that, we would have stopped and killed ourselves."
  • The song title was inspired by DJ Jon Mooneyham, who was a friend of the band's. Wayne explained in the band's biography Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips: "It was a line that he would say, like, 'I'll be dipped in s--t.'"
  • The album's back cover is a close-up of an eye belonging to Flaming Lips' drummer Richard English, who was allegedly high on acid at the time. Wayne told Consequence Of Sound: "The intention was a punk rock acid trip. We embrace that to a certain extent. A lot of the early punk rock stance would be against drugs, especially acid and the like. The people that we knew back then liked punk rock music and taking acid … we just simply didn't have any rules. That was the essence of what we were embracing in sound and vision. We would run into more people like the Butthole Surfers and Meat Puppets who would be more like us, freaky, without hangups about what they should or shouldn't be."
  • The Flaming Lips decided to produce their own albums after being dissatisfied with the way producer Randy Burns mixed their songs on Hear It Is.
  • The third verse quotes the first verse of the 1973 Rolling Stones song "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)":

    The police in New York City
    They chased a boy right through the park
    And in a case of mistaken identity
    The put a bullet through his heart
  • The lyrics, "Well, I never really understood religions, except it seems a good reason to kill," are taken from the 1972 song "Religion" by the British blues-rock band Ten Years After.
  • Wayne originally wrote this for Mark to sing. A version with Mark's vocals can be heard on the 2002 compilation Finally The Punk Rockers Are Taking Acid.

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