Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” Lyrics Meaning

This song is centered on a telephone hotline people call in order to get personalized religious advice – in other words giving them access to their own “personal Jesus”. The writing of the track was inspired by the excessive admiration Priscilla Presley had for her famous husband, Elvis Presley. In other words, Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore, who wrote the song, expanded on this idea by concluding that anyone can serve as a godlike role model to someone who is in love with them. And the refrain, “reach out and touch faith”, is a parody of an old slogan used by AT&T, a telecommunications company. 

Some people interpret this track as a gospel song. However, it has a underlying tone of criticizing such strong individual beliefs.

Facts about “Personal Jesus”

This is the lead single from Depeche Mode’s 1990 project “Violator”. And it was released as such by Mute Records on the date of 29 August 1989.

Martin L. Gore wrote “Personal Jesus”. And he and his Depeche Mode bandmates produced it alongside a producer called Flood.

His inspiration for the song came from a book by Elvis Presley’s wife, Priscilla Presley, entitled “Elvis and Me” (1985). And it was one of the first of Depeche Mode’s songs to prominently use a guitar.

“Personal Jesus” went on to become one of the well-tenured band’s signature tunes. It fared impressively on both the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles chart, in addition to charting in a dozen other countries. Also it holds the distinction of having been certified Platinum in Italy. In fact as far as 12-inch singles go, it was the best seller to ever be released under Warner Bros. in the company’s history up until that juncture in time.

Additionally Depeche Mode dropped a remix of this tune, entitled “Personal Jesus 2011”, during that titular year. And the said rendition also proved quite successful internationally, charting in a handful of nations overall.

This song has also been covered by some of the biggest names in the music industry, such as Johnny Cash in 2002, Def Leppard in 2018 and Marilyn Manson in 2004. In fact Manson’s rendition was released as a single and itself charted in almost 20 countries.

Indeed in 2003, Rolling Stone deemed Personal Jesus as one of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, placing it at number 377 on their list.

Music Video

Dutch filmographer Anton Corbijn handled the directorial duties for the music video to this track.

Depeche Mode found a clever way of promoting this song. They did so by placing an ad in the classifieds section of British newspapers. They advertised access to “your own personal Jesus” for readers who called the listed telephone number. And when callers actually did so, they were basically treated to a preview of the track.

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