Eurythmics’ “Missionary Man” Lyrics Meaning

The lyrics of “Missionary Man” were partially inspired by Eurythmics’ singer Annie Lennox former marriage to a serious adherent of the Hare Krishna religion. But by extension she is also singing of preachers, politicians, philosophers and all such individuals – missionaries if you will – who come off as being pious and have the tendency to tell other people how to live their lives. 

And whereas there is somewhat of a condemning undertone against such folk, the song is not really about them per se. Rather the focus is more on the singer herself. And the insinuation is that she feels she is a lost cause, i.e. a ‘born sinner’ and someone who even to this day normally makes such mistakes. In other words, she is somewhat of a lost, uninterested cause from a moralistic standpoint. However, the “missionary man” is still trying to force her to adopt a religious lifestyle nonetheless. So if anything, she doesn’t seem to perceive the titular character as actually being righteous. Rather, he comes off as being more akin to someone who wants to exercise authority over others.

Facts about “Missionary Man”

RCA Records issued this tune on 30 June 1986 as part of the Eurythmics’ album entitled Revenge. And later it was also released as the project’s fourth single.

“Missionary Man” topped Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart (the only Eurythmics song to ever do so). And overall it charted in about 10 nations, breaking the top 20 on America’s Hot 100 and top 40 of the UK Singles Chart. But despite its somewhat humble chart showing, critics were apparently more impressed with the song than the general public.  That is to say that the tune went on to win a Grammy Award in 1986. It specifically won in the category of Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

This track notably features Jimmy Zavala playing the harmonica (who recorded his part in one take) and Joniece Jamison providing background vocals.

In addition to the track, the music video itself also met with success. The video, which employed Willy Smax as its director, earned five MTV VMA nominations in 1987.

Who wrote “Missionary Man”?

“Missionary Man” was composed by the two musicians who made up Eurythmics, Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart. And Stewart also produced the track.

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