THE MALDEN ADVOCATE–Friday, July 10, 2020 Page 5 “Malden: Today, Tomorrow and Yesterday”... “Spirit in the Sky” revisited By Peter F. Levine “G abba gabba hey! You’re one of us!” Fifty years ago this summer, Malden continued to proudly proclaim that Norman Greenbaum was one of us! A Malden boy! His single “Spirit in the Sky” sold two million copies from 1969 to 1970, reaching number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it remained for 15 weeks! I vivpel music, so I sat down and wrote my own gospel song. It came easy. I wrote the words in 15 minutes.” Norman and his gal pal Bonita graced us with their presence last year. It is a memory none of us will ever forget – seared into our Malden memory banks for the rest of our time on earth. Here’s to you Norman. To that song. To that summer of 1970. To that 50-year-old memory of falling in love with your song on that tiny transistor radio. “It is said in Malden: today, tomorrow and yesterday...” We all know that death leaves a very big hole in our lives. Peter (Caso) – the grace and dignity you have displayed after the passing of your father is inspiring. Stay strong, my friend. Preacher Jack traveled Hank Sr.’s “lost highway” for most of his long career. He knew from an early age that “wealth would never save his soul.” And for a period of time in the 1970s before he quit booze there were “too many parties and too many pals.” Well, the “Angel of Death” finally caught up with Jack’s earthly form, but have no doubt that his soul immediately joined the “Hillbilly Heaven” choir – duets with Liberace, Ray Price and Sister Clara Ward into the wee small hours! The memorials continue: Eleanor Ramsey, Boston Rock Opera cofounder: “Woke up to the awful news that my old friend Preacher Jack was snatched away by Covid. I knew he was ill; he had been for a while (leading some to believe he’d already joined MALDEN | SEE PAGE 8 www.eight10barandgrille.com We Have Reopened for Dine-In and Outside Seating every day beginning at 4 PM Bonnie and Norman Greenbaum, freelance journalist Peter Levine and a photo bomber at the “Spirit in the Sky” dedication on Exchange Street. (Courtesy Photo) idly remember hearing it for the first time in my pal Mark “Foxy” Anastas’s basement on Adams Street back in early 1970 as a 13-year-old, Jimmy D’s transistor radio “blasting” as we played pool. Rolling Stone magazine eventually ranked the song #333 on its list of 500 greatest songs of all time! Think about that for a moment. #333! Of all the rock/pop songs ever to hit the airwaves! Jewish dude from Lisbon Street who graduated from Malden High School writing a song about the Christian savior that is ranked one of the best of all time!? What the heck!? In a 2006 interview with The New York Times, Greenbaum told a reporter he was inspired to write the song after watching Porter Wagoner singing a gospel tune on TV. Greenbaum said: “I thought, ‘Yeah, I could do that,’ knowing nothing about gosWE'RE OPEN! 8 Norwood Street, Everett (617) 387-9810 STAY SAFE!

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