"Ballad of Jim Jones" as written by and David K Hild Mark S Kramer....
I walked from New York and back from L.A.
I lived on a mountain and once by the bay
I bought an apartment and slept in the hay
But there's no place that's softer than (your arms)

Living today is just getting so bad
There's a look on your face
And it says"you've been had!"
You can take all my money
But don't make me mad
Cause there's nobody meaner than (me)

I prayed to Buddha, to Allah, and Jim.
I turned to Jesus and stayed there with him
I fell in deep but I learned how to swim
Now there's no one who's cleaner than me or than him

Lyrics submitted by elleon

"Ballad of Jim Jones" as written by Mark S Kramer David K Hild


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Ballad of Jim Jones song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentJim Jones was the founder and leader of the People Temple group, which became synonymous with murder/suicide after he forced people to drink cyanide as the only way to escape the potential threat brought to the group after Jim Jones ordered his men to kill visiting Congressman Leo Ryan and numerous members of his entourage. They all lived in an isolated community named "Jonestown", which Jones named after himself. He claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus, Buddha, Lenin, Father Devine, and Akhenaten.

    Basically, he was another crazy cult leader, but I think what distinguishes him is that he actually stood for a lot of good things, one of them being racial equality. Though he was also manipulative and controlling, and he moved his followers from San Francisco to Guyana. He later forced them to commit a cult suicide...type "Jim Jones" into Google and look him up, it's pretty interesting.

    I think this song is a further outlet of the lead singer's obsession with serial killers, though I don't see many references to Jones in this song besides the "I prayed to Allah, to Buddha and Jim". I like this song a lot though and if you like it, I suggest "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." by Sufjan Stevens, which is a song about the famous serial killer.
    .Three.Lefts.on June 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe first brian jonestown massacre song i ever heard and still one of my favorites. i love it.
    getalonggetalongon October 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe whole first paragraph is a reference to Jones.
    mybodyisacageon January 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe line "I turned to Jesus and stayed there with him" is probably a refference to Jonestown as well. Many followers of Jones were devotees of other religions first (Islam, Buddhism etc.), finally becoming disciples of Jones, only to wind up "with Jesus" after the infamous mass suicide.
    akagoldfishon May 05, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI'm not entirely satisfied with the explanations here, so I'll throw in my interpretation of the lyrics.

    I think it's all about a stereotypical person who would very easily and perfectly fall for Jim Jones's crazy cult.

    The first verse outlines how he's a wanderer type of person, directionless and without any real home. You could infer that he doesn't fit in well, or at least hasn't found somewhere to fit in yet.

    The second verse talks about another characteristic of someone who could be fooled by a cult. He talks about how living is getting bad, so obviously he isn't satisfied with his own life, and maybe how life and society is in general. The "don't make me mad" line could possibly be a reference to how he doesn't get along with others, but I'm not so sure on that one.

    The final verse I think is when Anton finally gets around to referring to how this guy gets totally brainwashed. He's looking for direction, turning to any and all religions for the direction in life they offer. He eventually goes with Jim Jones, and we all know how that turned out. The Jesus line confuses me, but someone else said it could be about how people came from other religions and now that he's dead, he's back with Jesus. Again, not sure about that one. But I do think the final lines are explicitly about how he's fallen for the cult BS. He fell in deep but learned how to swim, could refer to maybe he was thrown off at first by the strangeness, but eventually it grew on him as his brain was washed. And the final line "now there's no one who's cleaner than me or than him" is about going to the pure beautiful afterlife that Jim promised all his followers before they all committed "revolutionary suicide".

    That's a big analysis, but if I had to read into the whole thing and give a meaning and purpose behind all the lines, that would be my take on it. It's a beautifully catchy and happy song nonetheless, even if the narrative is possibly very dark.
    Wolves At My Dooron April 04, 2017   Link

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