Norman Greenbaum

Norman Greenbaum  (born November 20, 1942) is an American singer-songwriter.  He is best known for writing and performing the song “Spirit in the Sky”.  (More from Wikipedia)



Spirit in the Sky” by Jewish-American singer-songwriter Norman Greenbaum is one of the biggest Christian-themed songs in music.  Spirit in the Sky sold 2,000,000 copies and reached the top of the charts in the U.K.Australia, IrelandCanada, and Germany; it went to #3 in the U.S.  Norman Greenbaum remains a practicing Jew and was inspired to write and record the song while watching Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner sing a religious song on television.  


The song itself has an unexpected source of inspiration; as quoted in WikipediaNorman Greenbaum said in an interview:  “If you ask me what I based ‘Spirit in the Sky’ on . . . what did we grow up watching?  Westerns!  These mean and nasty varmints get shot and they wanted to die with their boots on.  So to me that was spiritual, they wanted to die with their boots on. . . .  It wasn’t like a Christian song of praise, it was just a simple song.  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.”  


There have been several cover versions over the years; two that I have are by Doctor and the Medics – who also reached #1 on the U.K. charts with “Spirit in the Sky” (Gareth Gates is yet a third artist who reached Number One in the U.K. with “Spirit in the Sky”) – and by the all-female band Fuzzbox


Norman Greenbaum was previously in a psychedelic rock band called Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band, and he sang lead vocals on their novelty hit song, “The Eggplant That Ate Chicago” (1966). 


(July 2014)


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Last edited: March 22, 2021