Jesus Just Left Chicago

Album: Tres Hombres (1973)

Songfacts®:

  • Also alluded to as "Jesus Done Left Chicago," this track follows on from "Waitin' for the Bus" on the Tres Hombres album - radio stations often play the songs together.

    In an interview with Jeb Wright of Classic Rock Revisited, lead guitarist Billy Gibbons explained: "The two songs ["Waitin' For The Bus" and "Jesus Just Left Chicago"] were written separately during sessions that were not too far apart. We were in the process of compiling the tracks for the album Tres Hombres, and that segue was a fortunate miscalculation by the engineer. He had been attempting to splice out some blank tape, and the result is that the two come off as a single work. It just seemed to work."
  • The Deep South is noted for its Christian roots, and in spite of the hostile reception rock 'n' roll received from the Bible Belt when it first reared its head, many contemporary musicians began their musical careers in or around the church. The most famous white rock 'n' roller from the Deep South to combine the two was of course Elvis Presley, who recorded the odd religious song.

    Although "Jesus Just Left Chicago" isn't exactly a hymn, it does have a spiritual dimension, and is written more in the style of Black Christian music, adhering to a strict blues format. And Gibbons is actually known as Reverend Billy Gibbons! >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
  • According to Billy Gibbons, he got the idea for this song when he was a teenager. He was talking on the phone to a friend who was known as "R&B Jr," who had lots of strange sayings in his lexicon. One day Billy was talking to him on the phone when he blurted out, "Jesus Just Left Chicago!"
  • Talking about this song with Rolling Stone, Gibbons explained: "We took what could have been an easy 12-bar blues and made it more interesting by adding those odd extra measures. It's the same chords as "La Grange" with the Robert Johnson lick, but weirder. Robert Johnson was country blues - not that shiny hot-rod electric stuff. But there was a magnetic appeal: 'What can we take and interpret in some way?'"

Comments: 5

  • Demento from TexasThere's more soul in New Orleans, and the "forest and the pines" are as likely a ref to East Texas, not far from New Orleans, as to anywhere in California.
  • Jim from ChicagoThe song was about radio waves coming out of Chicago from WLS. See: VH1 Storytellers
  • J from Lx, PortugalChicago is home to a special kind of blues. New Orleans is a city of recreation and sin, it's also home to a lesser known kind of blues.
    Both of these before Blagojevich and Katrina, of course.
    I like to think that Jesus left Chicago full of blues and headed down to N.O. to get himself some comfort? R&R? BBQ? Though he keeps working at each point in between.
    ZZ Top talk many times of honest, hardworking folk in their songs. Who's more honest and hardworking than the Lord?
  • Jim from Pleasant Hill, CaWillie, as much as I'm weary of songs about drugs and other vices, that analysis makes more sense than some quirky angle on religion. The title character's name may be better pronounced Hey-Zeus. The line about "the forests and the pines" in CA always seemed cryptic, but it may refer to Humboldt or Mendocino Counties.
  • Willie from Scottsdale, AzI have read the song is more about drug dealers than spirituality. In the early 1900s, many of the narcotics used in the South came from up North. The third stanza, "You might not see him in person /But he'll see you just the same /You don't have to worry /'Cause takin' care of business is his name." is not a way any bluesman ever referred to ol' J.C. And when the song is played live, the second verse about water & wine is always replaced with, "Took a trip down through __________ [insert concert city name] / He'll sure make you feel fine." Hardly a religious sentiment. In the least, it has a very deconstructive bent.
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