In about 1960 or so, Wayne Raney, a veteran harmonica player from Wolf Bayou, Arkansas, took a look around and concluded that the world was in pretty pathetic condition. Rather than simply sit back and complain, however, Raney proceeded to write a song detailing his plan for getting things back on the right track. The record came out on Nashville's Starday label.
The song, We Need A Lot More Jesus (And A Lot Less Rock And Roll), was a catalog of modern ills that came with a decidedly religious recipe for correction. Writer Colin Escott called it "gloriously anthemic" and I really can't add much to that.
It's almost too bad the song came out when it did, though; had it been written a decade later, Raney almost certainly would have worked up a verse condemning the hippie movement.
So here are the 11 versions I've unearthed. Are there are others? Almost certainly there are. If you know any I'm missing, feel free leave a comment so I can continue the quest.
No doubt, several of these recordings were made in completely in earnest, while others were made with tongue in cheek. All of them are enjoyable, though.
Cowboy Copas (2:07)
Sunshine Boys (2:02)
Skeeter Davis (2:23)
Gospel Quartet (1:29)
Greenbriar Boys (2:07)
Larry Donn (2:14)
Dick Monda (2:01)
The Gas Company (2:01)
Linda Ronstadt (2:28)
Nate Gibson & The Gashouse Gang (1:58) Nate's version, released in 2007 on his All The Way Home CD, is the most recent one here. Gibson is a budding musicologist and the author of a forthcoming book that will likely be a mandatory addition to your library: The Starday Story - The House That Country Music Built, which University Press Of Mississippi will publish a little later this year.