Boy George - Jesus Loves You/Bow Down Mister
May 18, 2012 CANADA (SUN) Reprising a 2006 Sun series on the cultural impact of Krsna Consciousness on the western music scene.
While devotees have little interest in mundane pop music, it's important to consider the reason why the Hare Krsnas have appeared on so many rock and roll stages and are found singing background vocals on many albums like the following. Srila Prabhupada encouraged us to preach strongly and actively, going out and making opportunities to spread the glories of the Sankirtana mission. Moving forward from the 60's era, it's no surprise that the devotees have continued to intersect with the music industry. Of course, the closer we come to distributing the pure sound vibration of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, using the tune Srila Prabhupada has given us -- all the better. But we cannot argue that getting the Holy Name spoken, one way or the other, is success.
When considering the many music posters that feature the Radha Krishna Temple, shown in previous segments, we can be sure that the management of all those rock concerts didn't come knocking on the temple door saying "Hey, Chuck Berry wants the Hare Krsnas to open a show for him." Rather, the devotees have been extremely proactive over the years, and as a result have gained tremendous visibility for Srila Prabhupada's movement.
Today's article on Krsna Conscious influences in popular music looks at the genre of Rock & Roll. We're obviously considering very broad categories for the purpose of this series. The following collection includes albums that are hard rock but not quite psychedelia, along with everything from soft rock to anarchy rock, acapella, Southern rock, pop rock, and grunge. Among the pop classics is the album above from Boy George, featuring Lord Jagannatha and 'Hare Krishna' on the album cover. The catchy tune, "Bow Down Mister (Hare Rama, Hare Krishna)" became one of Boy George's signature songs in the early 90's, reflecting his attraction to Krsna and the devotees.
The majority of these albums include songs that incorporate the maha-mantra. Others, like the Guster album Goldfly pictured above, which was released in 1997, have lyrics about the Hare Krsnas: "You'll be selling books at the airport".
We begin in the sixties, where it all began, with Allen Ginsberg, who took the maha-mantra out on the stage with one of the wildest bands of that era, The Fugs.
The Fugs - Tenderness Junction
This release has Allen Ginsberg singing along with the Fugs, including a track called "Hare Krishna". The Fugs were a radical satirical band from the 60's and often included political (or anti-political) rhetoric in their lyrics. They were well known for shows that were often more like street theater than rock and roll.
This album includes Timothy Leary's political anthem, "Turn On Tune In Drop Out" along with Ginsberg's "Hare Krishna". The album's last cut, "Aphrodite`s Mass", is comprised of five movement that include the maha-mantra.
Timothy Leary and Jimi Hendix - You Can Be Anyone This Time Around
This is a rare and unusual album produced by Timothy Leary and Jimi Hendrix, who are joined by Stephen Stills, John Sebastian and Buddy Miles. The strange mix on this album is part Hendrix Voodoo Jam, part Hare Krishna chant, woven together with psychedelic freakout, hypnotic trance, acid party, dadaist audio-painting, psychiatry lecture, beat poetry, and Buddhist mantra. In other words, it's a strange brew.
The highlight is Srila Prabhupada, chanting the Maha-mantra. Although Timothy Leary gives an unfortunately mayavadic and deluded 'you can be Krsna' speech, even that can't put a damper on the beautiful, transcendental sound vibration of Srila Prabhupada's chanting. Here's the video, which may be the only video in the world that pairs His Divine Grace and lava lamps (Prabhupada enters at approx. 1:28):
Here's another contribution to the Be-In (Hare Krishna) Hair category:
The Happenings - Peace of Mind
Released in 1969
The Happenings released this album, one of their last, with the Hair track, Where Do I Go/Be-In (Hare Krishna).
Ruth Copeland - I Am What I Am
Album includes the track "Hare Krishna", which was also released as a Side A single on the Invictus label, with "No Commitment" on the B side. The latter tune was co-written by George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic fame.
Sting - Live/studio Recordings
A live/studio CD set featuring more than 11 hours of Sting music includes numerous rare tunes he did, including "The Hare Krishna Song".
The Bobs - Shut Up and Sing
This alternative a cappella quartet is fond of imitating synthesizers and drum machines. This album includes a cut entitled "Slow Down Krishna", which unfortunately has little resemblance to anything spiritual. At least the Holy Name is there.
Killbilly - Anarchy
1980's style anarchy rock with a country/bluegrass twang, singing about Radha and Krsna in the tune, "Hare Krsna".
David Lannan - Street Singer
All the tracks on this album were recorded live in San Francisco with a portable recorder and two hand held mics. Mixed in with the ambient conversation from street encounters are numerous songs, including "Wait For The Light/Hare Krishna".
Galt MacDermot - Single "Hare Krishna / Hair"
Galt MacDermot wrote the score to the Broadway musical, Hair. This single release on the Verve label put "Hare Krishna" on the A side, with the "Hair" theme on side B.
Doug Anthony Allstars - Daas Icon
This Australian band released "Daas Icon", which included in the track "Krsna".
David Sylvian - Dead Bees on a Cake
David Sylvian's music combines trance mood music with jazz and ambient beat. This album includes the cut "Krishna Blue".
Brian Malko - Placebo
The band has been called a glam version of Nirvana. Includes the track "Hare Krishna".
Sensational Alex Harvey Band - This Is The SAHB
This classical rock album from the Glasgow band SAHB includes the track "Hare Krishna".
The B52's - Good Stuff
The liner notes for this album say the musical staff for this production included Krishna musicians Kathleen Blihar, Bedarayana Das, Subal Das, Urugaya Das, Bhakta Erick, Monique Francois-Eduoxie, Jane Ivchekno, Caesar Johnston, Ben McLeod, Brad Weinberg, Rukmini Weinberg. Recorded in New York and Los Angeles.