“Plastic Jesus” Lyrics Meaning

The lyrics which constitute this song can be said to have two sentimental origins. First is that, according to one of the co-writers Ed Rush, it is partially founded in an actual African-American spiritual from the mid-20th century. But more to the point, he and George Cromarty were inspired to write “Plastic Jesus” after listening to a Christian radio station in Texas. And the featured preacher was basically marketing various knickknacks as having special spiritual qualities. And such is the “plastic Jesus” at the center of this tune. He is actually one of those Jesus figurines which some people have the tendency to place on the dashboard of their cars for instance. 

But more to the thesis of the tune, the singer stresses, in a roundabout way, that the presence of “plastic Jesus” inside his motor vehilce does not have any type of positive impact on his life. Indeed if anything, the figurine proves to be a practical nuisance and inconvenience.


So for listeners who actually interpret this as some type of a religious song, they are missing the point entirely. Yes, the singer himself is obviously a Christian. But if anything, he is mocking the notion of such people actually putting their faith in purchased goods.  And moreover, the lyrics read more like a comedy as opposed to a piece which is supposed to be interpreted within a religious context.

“Plastic Jesus doesn’t hear
‘Cause he has a plastic ear”

Writing Credits

This song was written by the pair of George Cromarty and Ed Rush back in 1957. And they recorded it as a parody mocking money-based Christian radio stations under the name The Goldcoast Singers in 1962.


A number of artists have covered “Plastic Jesus” throughout the years. However, the most classic version is considered that which Ernie Marrs dropped back in 1967. And the popularity of his rendition was greatly buttressed by Paul Newman actually covering this tune, albeit briefly, on a movie that came out that same year entitled “Cool Hand Luke”.  And he apparently did so in more of a sentimental context than it is intended to actually be interpreted.

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