Personal Jesus

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2. Sweetest Perfection
3. Personal Jesus
List of Violator songs
4. Halo
Personal Jesus
Single-PJ.jpg
Song
Artist
Depeche Mode
Album
Songwriter
Produced by
Recorded at
Logic Studios, Milan
Label
Length (mm:ss)
4:56 (album version)
3:44 (single edit)
Tempo
129 BPM
Time signature
4/4
Key
F♯ Minor
Engineering assistance
Daryl Bamonte
Dick Meaney
David Browne
Mark Flannery
Mixing
Recorded
May 1989
Originally released
August 29, 1989
Played live
871 times *
Total live plays
942 times *

'Personal Jesus' is a song from the 1990 album Violator by Depeche Mode. It was released as a single on August 29, 1989.

Notes

Martin Gore told Spin Magazine:

"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. We play these god-like parts for people but no one is perfect, and that's not a very balanced view of someone is it?"

Johnny Cash covered the song in 2002, and said:

"It's a very fine, fine evangelical song, probably the most evangelical gospel song I ever recorded, although I don't know if the writer meant it to be that, but that's what it is. It's where you find your comfort, your counsel, your shoulder to lean on, your hand to hold on to your Personal Jesus."

As was written in Alan Wilder's '86 - 98' editorial on Shunt:

"The track itself was a significant move forward for the group but still retained elements of DM's former experimental self. For example, the main 'stomp' was a recording of 2 or 3 people jumping up and down on flight cases working alongside Martin's John Lee Hooker guitar riff and the Kraftwerk-style synth parts."

Musician Charlie Marchino happened to be in the same building, and says:

"I was at Logic Studios where Depeche Mode was recording 'Violator', and one day, I am playing ping pong with one of them. They play and challenge each other with ping pong every day. But then they are recording 'Personal Jesus' and I am wondering how they make the drumming loop in a military marching style at the beginning of the song. I am wondering what instrumentation they are using, what technological effects. So I follow after them and my jaw drops. They are on the metallic stairwell, and using its roaring, they are beating their feet on the staircase, all together, tum, tum, tu tu tum. Record and mix. Unbelievable."

Martin Gore in Bong issue no. 37, 1998:

"This song was our first experiment we had working with Flood and Francois Kevorkian, and we were really unsure about how that whole relationship would work. We were really happy with the song and we realised that it was a potential single, but we didn’t have any idea of the mass appeal that it would have. We thought that it was the sort of thing that we liked but the radio programmers would hate, and we’d be lucky if it reached no. 25 – it was one of those sort of feelings we had in the studio about this song. We were especially worried about America, because the moment you mention the word Jesus in the title, you’re asking for trouble, but the single eventually turned out to be Warner Bros.’ Biggest selling 12” of all time."

Vince Clarke said in 2001:

"To me, 'Personal Jesus' is like a rock sound, I suppose. It's not really like a typical American rock. I think it's far more clever and imaginative than that. If you told me that there would be a record like Violator, that they might have written 'Violator', 20 years ago, I would not have believed you. Going for that amount of time, then they're a band that have had a huge influence."

2011-05-14 Mute Short Circuit analysis

As part of a programme of talks and films at the Mute Short Circuit event in May 2011, producer Flood gave a presentation in which he recalled the production of several Depeche Mode tracks through looping audio examples and commentary. Among the tracks included in his presentation was Personal Jesus. An abridged transcript of his comments can be viewed below.

"We started off with this particular song, this was the first song that we recorded. The demo was pretty much a smaller version of what you know and love, but everything about it was all a bit of a test."

"So the first day in Milan with Depeche Mode, what are we going to do? We're going to record ourselves kicking a bit of metal in the booth, me and Fletch, while Dave Martin and Alan and the engineer, whom I'd never met, are all sitting and looking. So, that was the first I'd ever done. And that took a long time to do, which wasn't something I was expecting. A foot stomp? How hard could that be? Oh boy..."

"Anyway, so we do this, and then it's on to the main riff of the song. Now, Martin, felt very, very strongly that it should be acoustic guitar. So, OK, you're the boss, I'm working my way in here, so let's do the acoustic guitar."

"So, well, he's written it. He's a pretty damn fine guitar player, which I didn't realize at the time. Depeche Mode, they don't do guitars, do they? So he spent a long time playing this, and playing it, and playing it, and then we all agreed it sounds pretty good. But personally, I felt it could go a bit further... but I had to wait. So we're going along, it sounds pretty good, it's basically the demo. So obviously Depeche are going 'Hmm, how much are you charging?'"

"Anyways, so maybe we can make the footstomps a bit bigger.

[plays room channel of footstomp behind the sound of the main footstomp channel, producing a thicker sound]

So, OK, they're going right, big deal, you recorded a bit of room. Sure, anyone can do that."

"So then another idea that was going along was to use acoustic-y type of instruments, so you'd have harmonica or... one idea for the bass was actually to use the Jew's harp.

[plays Jew's harp channel]

So we're going OK, that sounds pretty good. Sounds a bit like a blues band. We're Depeche Mode... what's going on? Where are you leading us now?"

"So anyway, try and re-address the balance. We're going to introduce something a little more Depeche Mode-esque.

[plays resonant synth bass channel].

It's starting to sound halfway decent now. OK, so that's pretty good, that's not a bad start off. That's probably a couple of days worth of work. A lot of testing, a lot of 'Is this as good as it gets?'"

"There are loads of other pieces in there that you just start to see -- essentially all I was doing was enhancing what they already had and trying to help them go to a new place, and it was very difficult. In the end, in order to get the life out of the guitar that I thought it needed, I finally persuaded Martin to actually put [in] an electric [guitar]. Maybe the acoustic had taken half a day to record, I remember he just did the electric guitar parts in one go. [He was] just like 'Ah, really, is that all I've gotta do? Alright. Uh, can I go now?' Small victories!"

"If I had the slide guitar part here, I could show it, but I always heard that as screaming voices, and there was one evening when they're all looking at me going 'What are you talking about? It's a slide guitar.' And Dave going 'What, just screaming to something" I go "Yeah, just scream to anything!" He goes "What, like this? Rahhh!" I went "Great!" So they sampled it and put it with the guitar that slides up, and that's why it sounds — it sounds like a slide guitar, but it's not quite a slide guitar, and that's something that they'd obviously learned from Daniel, and I had learned from Daniel, this thing of meticulously crafting something and building it."

"So that's the way that that track was built up. Each part of that track is very, very crafted, and it was just trying to enhance effectively what was there ... It's a fantastic piece of music but it was only a better version of the demo. That's the job of the producer, sometimes, to go, 'Look, it's great, I don't need to do anything,' which is a bit hard when the artist is looking at you going 'What exactly have you done in the last hour? How much are we paying you?'"

Lyrics


Personal Jesus

Reach out and touch faith


Your own personal Jesus

Someone to hear your prayers

Someone who cares

Your own personal Jesus

Someone to hear your prayers

Someone who's there


Feeling unknown

And you're all alone

Flesh and bone

By the telephone

Lift up the receiver

I'll make you a believer


Take second best

Put me to the test

Things on your chest

You need to confess

I will deliver

You know I'm a forgiver


Reach out and touch faith

Reach out and touch faith


Your own personal Jesus

Someone to hear your prayers

Someone who cares

Your own personal Jesus

Someone to hear your prayers

Someone who's there


Feeling unknown

And you're all alone

Flesh and bone

By the telephone

Lift up the receiver

I'll make you a believer

I will deliver

You know I'm a forgiver


Reach out and touch faith


Your own personal Jesus


Reach out and touch faith


Songwriter: Martin L. Gore
Publishing Information: ©1989 Grabbing Hands Music Ltd/EMI Music Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.

Music video

Dates with available recordings of Personal Jesus

There are currently 581 recordings of Personal Jesus available.

Dates where Personal Jesus was played

1990 World Violation Tour

Personal Jesus was played 88 times during this tour.

1993 Devotional Tour

Personal Jesus was played 93 times during this tour.

1994 Exotic Tour

Personal Jesus was played 60 times during this tour.

1997 Ultra Parties

  • Personal Jesus was not played during this tour.

1998 The Singles Tour

Personal Jesus was played 65 times during this tour.

2001 Exciter Tour

Personal Jesus was played 86 times during this tour.

2003 Paper Monsters Tour (Dave Gahan solo)

Personal Jesus was played 71 times during this tour.

2003 "A Night With Martin L. Gore" (Martin L. Gore solo)

  • Personal Jesus was not played during this tour.

2005-2006 Touring The Angel

Personal Jesus was played 124 times during this tour.

2009-2010 Tour Of The Universe

Personal Jesus was played 105 times during this tour.

2013-2014 Delta Machine Tour

Personal Jesus was played 112 times during this tour.

2017-2018 Global Spirit Tour

Personal Jesus was played 138 times during this tour.

Trivia

  • 'Personal Jesus' has been covered by Johnny Cash (2002), Def Leppard (2018), Sammy Hagar feat. Michael Anthony, Neal Schon and Chad Smith (2013), Marilyn Manson (2004), Eläkeläiset (1995), Lollipop Lust Kill (2002), Gravity Kills (2002), Vitamin String Quartet (2003), Hooligans (2003), Challenger in Pieces (2003), No One Is Innocent (2004), Anaklein (2004), 3 Minute Solution (2005), John Lord Fonda (2005), Jazzystics feat. Karen Souza (2006),Richard Cheese (2006), The Gospel (2006), Berk & the Virtual Band (2006), G&G (2008),Radio Star (2009), Tamtrum (2009),Di Leva (2010), Nina Hagen (2010), Bebo Best, Evelins and Mr. Lova (2010), Niji (2010), Shaka Ponk (2011), HausHetaere (2011), Rockabye Baby! (2012), Renzo Baltuzzi (2014), Music Box Mania (2014), Leo (2015), Acousticman Chillout (2015), Mindless Self Indulgence (2015), Tim Barton (2016), Chateau Pop (2017), and Ko Ko Mo (2018).
  • 'Personal Jesus' has been sampled in the following songs by other artists:
    • 'House 'N Roll' - The Sacados (1990)
    • 'Perdiendo El Tiempo' - Fangoria (1990)
    • 'Was It Worth It? (Dub)' - Pet Shop Boys (1991)
    • 'Personal Jesus' - Apathy (2005)
    • 'Beware of the Dog' - Jamelia (2006)
    • 'Reach Out' - Hilary Duff feat. The Prophet (2008)
    • 'Personal Jesus/Just Can't Get Enough' - The Molly Ringwalds (2011)
    • 'Dedication to My Ex (Miss That)' (2012)
    • 'False Idols' - LSDXOXO (2018)
  • Marilyn Manson's cover of 'Personal Jesus' was featured in the soundtrack to 2013 horror film Horns starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame. Notably, the film's soundtrack also includes David Bowie's 'Heroes', a performance of which by Dave Gahan was overheard by Vince Clarke, who subsequently invited Gahan to join Depeche Mode upon hearing it in early to mid-1980. Depeche Mode would later cover this song in tribute to the late Bowie following his untimely passing in 2016.


1981-1985: Dreaming of MeNew LifeJust Can't Get EnoughSee YouThe Meaning Of LoveLeave in SilenceGet The Balance Right!Everything CountsLove In ItselfPeople Are PeopleMaster And ServantBlasphemous RumoursSomebodyShake The DiseaseIt's Called A Heart
1986-1989: StrippedBut Not TonightA Question Of LustA Question Of TimeStrangeloveNever Let Me Down AgainBehind The WheelLittle 15Route 66Personal Jesus
1990-1999: Enjoy The SilencePolicy of TruthWorld In My EyesI Feel YouWalking In My ShoesCondemnationIn Your RoomBarrel Of A GunIt's No GoodHomeUselessOnly When I Lose Myself
2000-2009: Dream OnI Feel LovedFreeloveGoodnight LoversPreciousA Pain That I'm Used ToSuffer WellJohn the RevelatorLilianMartyrWrongPeaceFragile TensionHole To Feed
2010-2017: HeavenSoothe My SoulWhere's The RevolutionGoing BackwardsCover Me
1992-1998: Faith HealerDriftingStalkerMissing Piece
2000-2008: Strange HoursJezebelPreyAllelujah
2003-2008: Dirty Sticky FloorsI Need YouBottle LivingHold OnA Little PieceKingdomSaw SomethingDeeper And Deeper
2012-2015: Longest DayTake Me Back HomeAll Of This And NothingShine
1989-2003: CompulsionStardustLoverman
2012: SpockSingle BlipAftermaths