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Plastic Jesus
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There is considerable debate about the actual authorship of this song, with partisans leaning to Marrs, Cromarty and Rush (the Goldcoast Singers), and to old revival-tent spirituals.  It being impossible to tie it down,

I received a couple of notes from Ed Rush. I have posted them below.

Not sure who has added to the following version George Cromarty and Ed Rush and Others

 

Plastic Jesus

I don't care if it rains of freezes
'Long as I got my Plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car.

Through my trials and tribulations
And my travels through the nations
With my Plastic Jesus I'll go far.
Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,
Riding on the dashboard of my car

I'm afraid He'll have to go.
His magnets ruin my radio
And if I have a wreck He'll leave a scar.
Riding down a thoroughfare
With His nose up in the air,
A wreck may be ahead, but He don't mind.

Trouble coming He don't see,
He just keeps His eye on me
And any other thing that lies behind.
Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,
Riding on the dashboard of my car ...

Though the sunshine on His back
Make Him peel, chip and crack,
A little patching keeps Him up to par.
When I'm in a traffic jam
He don't care if I say "damn"
I can let all my curses roll

Plastic Jesus doesn't hear
'Cause he has a plastic ear
The man who invented plastic saved my soul.
Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,
Riding on the dashboard of my car ...

Once His robe was snowy white,
Now it isn't quite so bright -
Stained by the smoke of my cigar.
If I weave around at night,
And policemen think I'm tight,
They never find my bottle - though they ask.

Plastic Jesus shelters me,
For His head comes off, you see
He's hollow, and I use Him for a flask.
Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,

Riding on the dashboard of my car ...
Ride with me and have a dram
Of the blood of the Lamb -
Plastic Jesus is a holy bar.

Plastic Jesus has become quite entrenched in the folk tradition, so there are considerably more folk verses than there were original ones. Following are folk additions and emendations, as well as additions from recording artists who have covered this song.

Well, I don't care if it rains or freezes,
Long as I have my plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car

I could go a hundred miles an hour
Long as I got the Almighty Power
Glued up there with my pair of fuzzy dice
{Refrain - repeat between every verse}
Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car

Through all trials and tribulations,
We will travel every nation,
With my plastic Jesus I'll go far.
I don't care if it rains or freezes
As long as I've got my Plastic Jesus
Glued to the dashboard of my car,

You can buy Him phosphorescent
Glows in the dark, He's Pink and Pleasant,
Take Him with you when you're travelling far

I don't care if it's dark or scary
Long as I have magnetic Mary
Ridin' on the dashboard of my car

I feel I'm protected amply
I've got the whole damn Holy Family
Riding on the dashboard of my car

You can buy a Sweet Madonna
Dressed in rhinestones sitting on a
Pedestal of abalone shell

Goin' ninety, I'm not wary
'Cause I've got my Virgin Mary
Guaranteeing I won't go to Hell

I don't care what they say, I'm gonna
Keep on prayin' to that pink madonna
Melted to the dashboard of my car.

I don't care if it bumps or jostles
Long as I got the Twelve Apostles
Bolted to the dashboard of my car

Don't I have a pious mess
Such a crowd of holiness
Strung across the dashboard of my car

No, I don't care if it rains or freezes
Long as I have my plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car

But I think he'll have to go
His magnet ruins my radio
And if we have a wreck he'll leave a scar

Riding through the thoroughfare
With his nose up in the air
A wreck may be ahead, but he don't mind

Trouble coming, he don't see
He just keeps his eyes on me
And any other thing that lies behind
{as refrain}

Plastic Jesus, Plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Though the sun shines on his back
Makes him peel, chip, and crack
A little patching keeps him up to par

When pedestrians try to cross
I let them know who's boss
I never blow my horn or give them warning

I ride all over town
Trying to run them down
And it's seldom that they live to see the morning
{as refrain}
Plastic Jesus, Plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car

His halo fits just right
And I use it as a sight
And they'll scatter or they'll splatter near and far

When I'm in a traffic jam
He don't care if I say Damn
I can let all sorts of curses roll
Plastic Jesus doesn't hear
For he has a plastic ear
The man who invented plastic saved my soul
{as refrain}
Plastic Jesus, Plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car

Once his robe was snowy white
Now it isn't quite so bright
Stained by the smoke of my cigar

God made Christ a Holy Jew
God made Him a Christian too
Paradoxes populate my car

Joseph beams with a feigned elan
From the shaggy dash of my furlined van
Famous cuckold in the master plan

Naughty Mary, smug and smiling
Jesus dainty and beguiling
Knee-deep in the piling of my van

His message clear by night or day
My phosphorescent plastic Gay
Simpering from the dashboard of my van

When I'm goin' fornicatin
I got my ceramic Satan
Sinnin' on the dashboard of my Winnebago Motor Home

The women know I'm on the level
Thanks to the wild-eyed stoneware devil
Ridin' on the dashboard of my Winnebago Motor Home
Sneerin' from the dashboard of my Winnebago Motor Home
Leering from the dashboard of my van

I don't care if I'm broke or starvin'
As long as I've got a fish named Darwin
Glued to the trunklid of my car

God, I'm feeling so evolved
Drivin' with my problems solved
Proclaiming what I think of what we are

Riding home one foggy night,
With my honey cuddled tight,
I missed a curve and off the road we veered.

My windshield got smashed-up good,
And my darling graced the hood.
Plastic Jesus, He had disappeared.
{As refrain}
Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,
No longer chides me with His holy grin.

Doctors in the X-ray room
Found Him in my darling's womb.
Someday, He'll be born again!

I don't care if it rains or freezes
Long as I got my plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car

He's the dude with the rusty nails,
Walks on water, don't need no sails
Riding on the dashboard of me car

I don't care if the night is scary
As long as I got the Virgin Mary
Sittin' on the dashboard of my car.

She don't slip and she don't slide
Cuz her ass is magnetized
Sittin' on the dashboard of my car.

Got this from Ed Rush
Just came across your site and thought you'd be interested in the origins of "Plastic Jesus". George Cromarty and I wrote this infamous song when we were high school students in Fresno, California in 1957. We both ended up at a college in Monterey, California and, for spare change, started singing folk songs and original political and social satire (usual closing with Plastic Jesus, which developed into as much a comedy routine as a song)in coffee houses around Monterey and Carmel, most often at Kalisa's, a lively place on Cannery Row. People seemed to respond so we called ourselves The Goldcoast Singers and took off in a VW Beetle to storm the budding folk music circuit of the early 1960's. We played folk clubs in LA and San Francisco (six months at the Purple Onion in North Beach, replacing the Smothers Brothers who'd gone off to fame and fortune) and we spent two years on the road, playing over 100 college concerts and all sorts of coffeehouses and clubs all over the US and Canada. Kenneth Rexroth, the beat poet, wrote glowing reviews in the San Francisco papers and we actually developed a kind of following. We also recorded an album, "Here They Are: The Goldcoast Singers" for World Pacific/Pacific Jazz , partly recorded live at a concert at San Francisco State. We not only wrote the song (registered with ASCAP-and yes, I still get small royalty checks) but we sure did spread it around. Our record got a lot of air play at the time (particularly in the Chicago market), but the record company had financial problems and couldn't fill orders fast enough. Also, its hard to imagine now just how outrageous this stuff was in 1962. Audience reactions sometimes verged on violence. George was drafted into the army in November of 1963 and we played our last gig in a folk club in Victoria, British Columbia the night of November 22, 1963 - we had a hard time being funny that night. Anyway, I never heard of this guy Marrs, but if he says he wrote this song...you might set him straight.
cheers,
Ed Rush

Dear Rev,
Thanks for righting a wrong (as one might expect from
a man of God)- the only thing is that we sure didn't
write all the many verses that you've included on your
site. As I remember we only wrote (in addition to the
chorus) " You can buy a sweet Madonna/ dressed in
rhinestones sittin' on a /pedestal of abalone
shell/drivin' ninety I'm not wary /'cause I've got my
Virgin Mary /guaranteeing I won't go to hell." Along
with the chorus that's really the only actual verse
that we sang. The song developed from listening to a
radio station in Del Rio, Texas when I was about 12.
My best friend had a war surplus radio setup with a
big antenna and on summer nights (TV had not yet
arrived in Fresno, California) we spent a lot of time
trying to bring in radio stations from as far away as
possible. Thats how we discovered XERB (I think those
were the call letters) broadcasting from a very
powerful transmitter across the border in Mexico. The
station belonged to a Del Rio dentist and religious
fanatic and they sold the most outrageous stuff
imaginable, all with magical healing properties. One
particularly egregious divine exhorted listeners to
"LAY YORE HAND ON THE RAAD-EE-o IF YOU FEEL THE HEAT
YOU'LL BE HEEEAALED!" This was followed by an appeal
for contributions and a list of crypto-religious items
for sale, including a glow-in-the-dark Jesus with a
suction cup base to attach to your dashboard. This
item was guaranteed to protect the buyer from death on
the highway. Another show included a hillbilly backup
group that sang, among other ditties I've now
mercifully forgotten, a song that included,
"....something..something..something..leaning on the
arms of Jesus, wrapped in the bosom of the Lord..." At
the time it seemed so funny that we started changing
it a bit and (with lots of gigglig) making up other
words to the song, working in the suction-cup Jesus
statue..and eventually ended up with a whole routine.
So that's the true story of Plastic Jesus. Irreverent
teenagers with no respect laughing themselves silly in
a dusty California town on hot summer nights in the
middle 1950's.

cheers,
Ed Rush

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