Happy Anniversary: Depeche Mode, “Personal Jesus”
28 years ago this week, Depeche Mode released the debut single from the then-still-forthcoming VIOLATOR album, blowing the minds of anyone who may have still thought of them as nothing more than a synth-pop group.
Written by Martin Gore and co-produced by the band and Flood (real name: Mark Ellis), the lyrics of “Personal Jesus” were, per the aforementioned Mr. Gore, inspired by the book Elvis and Me, written by Priscilla Presley. As Gore told Spin at the time, “It’s about how Elvis Presley was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships; how everybody’s heart is like a god in some way, and that’s not a very balanced view of someone, is it?”
“Personal Jesus” wasn’t the first Depeche Mode song to feature high-profile guitar parts, but it was by far the most successful up to that point, hitting #26 on the Billboard Hot 100, #3 on the magazine’s Modern Rock Tracks chart, and #13 on the UK Singles chart. It has also gone on to be covered by a number of high-profile artists over the years, including individuals as diverse as Johnny Cash, Hilary Duff, Sammy Hagar, and Marilyn Manson…and if that list doesn’t show you how affecting the song’s premise is, we don’t know what will.
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