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Jesus He Knows Me

"Jesus He Knows Me" is the second track on the 1991 Genesis album We Can't Dance and its fourth single. The song is a satire of televangelism, released in a period when several televangelists such as Jimmy Swaggart, Robert Tilton and Jim Bakker were under investigation for promising financial success to their listeners, provided they sent money to them. The song reached No. 10 in Canada, No. 20 in the United Kingdom and No. 23 in the United States.

Background

Before the lyrics were added, the song's title was "Do The New Thing", possibly referencing Tony Banks's opening keyboard notes, which are heard again in the bridge. According to the behind-the-scenes documentary Genesis: No Admittance, the first lyric Phil Collins wrote out of improvisation was the chorus line "Jesus, he knows me, and he knows I'm right.". Following up that lyric logically took him to the idea of manic or fanatic Christians who believe that they are "in touch" with the Almighty, which was best personified by televangelists, many of whom finance their lavish lifestyles by conning believers out of charitable donations. Tony Banks has commented that the song is a bit more cynical than Phil's usual style of songwriting.

Release

Like all the singles from We Can't Dance, "Jesus He Knows Me" was released on two CDs as well as on vinyl editions. All formats featured the non-album track "Hearts on Fire" (later included on Genesis Archive No. 2 1976–1992) as the primary B-side, while both CDs included an exclusive track.

The first CD contained "I Can't Dance (The Other Mix)" (a remix by Ben Liebrand) and the second featured "Land of Confusion (Rehearsal Version)." "The Other Mix" is named as such because another version, the "Sex Mix," had been released some months before on the "I Can't Dance" CD single. The second CD was the fifth disc in "The Invisible Series," a collection of Genesis CDs which featured live recordings as extra tracks. The single mix of "Jesus He Knows Me" has a louder chorus than the album version, making it more suitable for radio play.

Live performances

The song was performed live on the 1992 We Can't Dance tour, although it was originally not going to be played because the band thought the live visuals were mocking religion. The band eventually decided to perform "Jesus He Knows Me" instead of "Living Forever," which was in the setlist at the time.

Music video

The video features singer Phil Collins as an unscrupulous televangelist who lives like a millionaire thanks to donations from his followers. Collins has admitted that he was specifically parodying Ernest Angley in the video. According to Collins on the BBC show Room 101, Angley was flattered by the parody and did not realize that his very occupation was being skewered. The opening monologue, which has been mistaken for a fictional scenario for the video clip, is based on an actual story Angley had told years before, and which he recounted again in 2013. The comedic video also features fellow band members, keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist Mike Rutherford, as fellow evangelists. Collins, outfitted in an orange suit, tries to have his viewers raise $18,000,000 in one weekend because "the Lord told it to him." In the final minute on the video, money is thrown by parishioners and also rains down on the set of the fake program. As the toteboard reaches his goal, the amount of money shown increases to $18,000,000. As the song fades out, Collins continues to preach before being dragged off the set by Rutherford and Banks, harking back to the clip to "I Can't Dance".

In the video near the 1:40 mark people can be seen holding a sign reading "Genesis 3:25," referring not to the Bible but to the fact that the band had been together for twenty-five years and had had three members for most of that time. (The band formed in 1967, but the video was filmed in 1992, although only Banks and Rutherford had been in the band since the beginning.) Some observers, not understanding this reference, believed the sign to be an error or a joke, as the third chapter in the Book of Genesis has only 24 verses.

In the original version of the video, the "toll-free number" referred to in the lyrics was shown as 1-555-GEN-ESIS. This was covered up by a scroll bar in later edits of the video. (The 555 area code actually does not prefix any known toll-free telephone numbers.)

Throughout the clip, Collins is shown on the covers of several fictitious magazines with religious names which spoof actual publications, such as "Spirit Illustrated," "Rolling Souls," "MITE" (an anagram of TIME) and "God's Housekeeping."

At the Brit Awards in 1993 the video was nominated for British Video.

On the version of the clip used on Genesis' official YouTube channel, the album mix of the song, without the preaching monologues from Collins, is used, with the video fading out with the song. Different footage is also used when Collins sings "But she don't know about my girlfriend / Or the man I met last night". The 1-555-GEN-ESIS scene is retained unedited.

Use in media

"Jesus He Knows Me" was featured in the 1996 Belgian film Le huitième jour by Jaco Van Dormael. The song was originally intended to be used in the 1995 The Simpsons episode Bart Sells His Soul, but as the producers could not obtain the rights to use it, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly was used instead.

Track listings

CD maxi # "Jesus He Knows Me" (single mix) – 4:18 # "Hearts on Fire" – 5:15 # "I Can't Dance" (the other mix) – 6:00

CD maxi # "Jesus He Knows Me" (single mix) – 4:18 # "Hearts on Fire" – 5:15 # "Land of Confusion (rehearsal version) – 4:58

7" single # "Jesus He Knows Me" (single mix) – 4:17 # "Hearts on Fire" – 5:15

Charts

Weekly charts

Year-end charts