Given the late-60s near non-stop run of bad news (where even the high hopes of Woodstock were dashed by the cruel realities of Altamont) people couldn't wait for the decade, which started with so much promise, to end.
Makes sense that somebody would have a hit record with an uplifting - even spiritual song - in 1969. "Spirit In The Sky" was the song, and Norman Greenbaum was the guy.
Greenbaum left his native Massachusetts in '65, where he'd attended Boston University, and moved to L.A.
Greenbaum's one hit, unless you count the novelty tune, "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago," was inspired by watching Country performers Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner sing a spiritual song on TV.
Though "Spirit In The Sky" contained Christian references ("I have a friend in Jesus") Greenbaum didn't view it as pro-Christian. "It wasn't like a Christian song of praise it was just a simple song," Greenbaum stated in an interview. "I had to use Christianity because I had to use something. But more important it wasn't the Jesus part, it was the spirit in the sky."
Despite Greenbuam's claims, it may have been first true Christian Rock song - that was actually written and recorded by a nice Jewish fellow.
"Spirit In The Sky"was built around a killer fuzzed-out riff, complete with (clicking) fazed guitar and handclaps, beneath Greenbaum's astoundingly earnest and inspired vocals.
It sold over one million copies and was heard in all sorts of films (including Michael with John Travolta, who played an angel), ads and TV shows.
1969 Spirit In The Sky
1969 Norman Greenbaum With Dr. West's Medicine Show And Junk Band
1970 Back Home Again
1972 Petaluma (with Ry Cooder)