Jesus Built My Hotrod

Last updated
"Jesus Built My Hotrod"
Jesus Built My Hotrod.jpg
Single by Ministry
from the album Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs
B-side "TV Song"
ReleasedNovember 7, 1991
Studio Chicago Trax! Studios (Chicago, IL)
  • Hypo Luxa
  • Hermes Pan
Ministry singles chronology
"So What"
"Jesus Built My Hotrod"
Music video
“Jesus Built My Hotrod” on YouTube

"Jesus Built My Hotrod" is a song by American industrial metal band Ministry, released as the first single from their fifth studio album, Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs . It was written by the band's frontman Al Jourgensen, bassist Paul Barker, drummer Bill Rieflin, session keyboardist Michael Balch, and the Butthole Surfers lead singer Gibby Haynes, and was co-produced by Jourgensen and Barker. An industrial metal track, it features elements of rockabilly and psychobilly, and is influenced by the Trashmen 1963 hit "Surfin' Bird", and Flannery O'Connor's novel Wise Blood ; the song's instrumentation is defined by its polyrhythmic structure.


The song was first released as a single in November 1991, backed with the B-side "TV Song" based on lyrics by Chris Connelly; re-edited versions of both tracks were included in Psalm 69, as well as various compilation albums. The single reached No. 19 in the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart with approximately 128,000 copies as of mid-July 1992, preceding the later success of Psalm 69.


Stories regarding the song's recording, given in various accounts over the years, [lower-alpha 1] hold that the first Lollapalooza tour, with Butthole Surfers featured in its lineup, came in Chicago to perform in Summer 1991. After the Surfers’ performance, lead singer Gibby Haynes had visited the Chicago Trax! studios. There, Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen asked Haynes if he could record vocals for the song, then only featuring guitar and drum parts with no vocals, mainly due to its beat structure. [lower-alpha 2] While alleged to be drunk at this point, Haynes had been performing his parts for some time, before falling asleep.

As Jourgensen later explained, he spent about two or three weeks at home after that session, editing the tapes on a two-track recorder in order to render Haynes' performance as somewhat audible. He then overdubbed additional instrumental parts, samples from drag racing competitions and tape noises. In the end, Jourgensen and bandmates added a spoken-word intro to fit Haynes' “moronic” singing. [9] [7] [10] Around the same time, guitarist Mike Scaccia and drummer Bill Rieflin had recorded a demo of them playing as fast as they could; initially conceived as a joke, it became the single's flipside, “TV Song”. [11]

After he finished editing, Jourgensen was contacted by Sire Records about getting a recorded material. Jourgensen sent a tape of “Jesus Built My Hotrod”, since it was the only song he had by this time. Sire staff were irritated with only having “Jesus Built My Hotrod”, as well that most of an advance, initially intended for the record, were spent by Jourgensen and his acquaintances on drugs. Jourgensen told them to either release the song and pay another advance, or terminate a contract. The label chose to release the song, with no further expectations from the band. [7] [12]

Music and lyrical themes

“Jesus Built My Hotrod” is an industrial metal, [13] [14] [15] [16] speed metal, [17] [18] thrash metal, [19] :234 [20] and alternative metal song [21] which features elements of rockabilly [18] [22] and psychobilly; [23] :87 [24] on Psalm 69, it is the fifth track with a length of four minutes and fifty-one seconds. [25] [26] [lower-alpha 3] The track was written by Al Jourgensen, Paul Barker, Bill Rieflin, and Michael Balch with lyrics credited to Gibby Haynes, [29] [30] [31] [32] and was co-produced by Jourgensen and Barker under their respective aliases Hypo Luxa and Hermes Pan. [9] [33]

In a 2016 interview, Jourgensen said that the song was partially inspired by his youth experiences with his stepfather, a stock car driver and mechanic. [34] Commenting on Ministry's work for Spin Alternative Record Guide , writer Eric Weisbard likened it to “an updated, theorized” version of the Trashmen 1963 hit “Surfin' Bird”; [35] AllMusic’s editor Steve Huey supports this point in the song review. [13]

The song begins with a spoken word intro, which refers to Jerry Lee Lewis as “the devil” and Jesus Christ as “an architect previous to his career as a prophet” respectively. [36] In the “Redline/Whiteline Version”, it is followed by sampled lines of Hazel Motes (portrayed by Brad Dourif) from 1979 film Wise Blood, [37] [16] before cutting immediately into the main section, which contains Haynes’ scat-like singing set to the drum beat performed in common time signature (4
) with guitar riff—attributed to Jourgensen and repeated throughout most of the song, excluding solos—in 5
, which was said to be complicated. [13] [7] The “Redline/Whiteline Version” also features a sampled line of Frank Booth (portrayed by Dennis Hopper) from David Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet , as well as dialogues from drag race competitions. [38] [39] The song ends with another spoken word part, saying: “Jesus built my car / it's a love affair / mainly Jesus and my hot rod.” [40]

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [41]

"Jesus Built My Hotrod" was released on November 7, 1991, little more than half a year before it appeared on Psalm 69, in three formats (vinyl records, CD and CS), with promo copies accompanied by a free quart of motor oil. [4] It was quickly successful, [4] which was said to be unexpected by commentators including Jourgensen. [13] [42] As of mid-July 1992, "Jesus Built My Hotrod" sold 128,000 copies, [43] and was considered one of Warner Bros.’ best-selling CD singles along with Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” and Madonna’s “Vogue” in October 1992. [44] :28 In 2013 Jourgensen stated that the single sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide. [42]

The song has received significant critical acclaim. In a short review for AllMusic, John Book gave the single three of five stars, praising Jourgensen’s guitar performance, while his fellow editor Steve Huey hailed it as one of Ministry's "best-known songs". [41] [13] Writing for the Los Angeles Times , Robert Hilburn called the song "a guaranteed classic". [45]

Despite being a fan favorite, [46] “Jesus Built My Hotrod” was rarely performed during the band's career, predominantly making appearance as an encore during 1999's “Clitour”, [47] 2003's “Fornicatour”, [48] [49] 2004's “Evil Doer Tour” [46] and 2006's “Masterbatour”. [50] In the November 2008 issue of Guitar World , Jourgensen explains that as he doesn't “have [his] heart into it,” he wouldn't perform it without Haynes. [51]

Artwork and music video

The front cover for the single was designed by Paul Elledge, who also did the artwork for Psalm 69. In a 2013 interview Elledge said that Jourgensen and Barker, infatuated with a Chrysler Hemi engine, had favored idea of having "a super-industrial shot of an engine that was kind of like what you would see at a factory, not on an album cover." [52] Instead of taking a photo of an engine, Elledge requested it from Chrysler representatives. [52]

The accompanying video for the song was also directed by Elledge; the band convinced the Warner Bros. representatives to shoot the video with Elledge, despite latter having no experience of filming. Elledge listened to the song 100 times or more, before creating a storyboard. Commenting on the shoot, Elledge said that he wanted “to make it so that some things I shot people would think was stock (footage) and some things that were stock were things I shot.” Elledge spent three days shooting the band and others featured in video, as well as doing the animation; the band was shot on black so Elledge could layer other footage. From three takes, the final cut was edited during six weeks. [52]


Later recordings

The album version of the song is in Ministry's 2001 compilation album Greatest Fits ; [53] remixed and re-recorded versions appear on several Ministry compilations, including 2005's Rantology , [54] [55] 2008's Cover Up , [20] 2010's Every Day Is Halloween: The Anthology / Undercover and 2011's The Very Best of Fixes and Remixes. [56] For the Rantology version, subtitled “Update Mix”, a new introduction was recorded by Haynes. [55] The song's lyrics have been supposedly recycled for Butthole Surfers' 1993 song “Some Dispute Over T-Shirt Sales”, from Independent Worm Saloon . [31] [57] [58]

Notable cover versions of the song were recorded by The Bosshoss (for their 2006 album Rodeo Rodeo) [59] and Lamb of God (for 2018 cover album Legion: XX , as Burn the Priest). [60] Commenting on the Lamb of God recording, frontman Randy Blythe admitted that he didn't consider it a good idea, until he performed vocals; instead of requesting permissions for the original cut's samples, the band chose to voice these themselves. [60] The Burn the Priest version made an appearance on an episode of The Flash .

“Jesus Built My Hotrod” was featured in the first trailer of Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2009 parody book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies . [17]

A lyric from the spoken word intro ("Ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long") was used (without spaces) as a cheat code in the video game Sleepwalker . [61] In August 2010, the song became available for download in the Rock Band series of games. [62] The song was also featured in the 2014 Ubisoft video game, Watch Dogs , both as a song available in game, and as a backdrop for a set piece during the game's storyline; one reviewer called it a "fantastic moment". [63]

Track listing

1."Jesus Built My Hotrod" (Redline/Whiteline Version)
  • Jourgensen
  • Rieflin
  • Balch
  • Haynes
2."Jesus Built My Hotrod" (Short, Pusillanimous, So-They-Can-Fit-More-Commercials-On-The-Radio Edit) 3:45
3."TV Song"


Credits adapted from liner notes of the “Jesus Built My Hotrod” single, Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs and Greatest Fits. [64] [29]

Additional personnel


2003 Martin Popoff Canada The Top 500 Heavy Metal Songs of All Time375 [65]
2004 Kerrang! United Kingdom "666 Songs You Must Own (Alternative Rock)"10 [66]
2006 The A.V. Club United States "The A.V. Club's Definitive Mixlist: The New Adventures Of Jesus"12 [40]"10 Best Ministry Songs"2 [14]
2014Ultimate Classic Rock"Top 10 Jesus Songs"11 [15]
2016 Metal Hammer United Kingdom"The Top 10 Best Ministry Songs"3 [67]
2017"The 100 best metal songs of the 90s"30 [68]
"*" denotes an unordered list.

Chart performance

Weekly charts
Chart (1992)Peak position
Billboard Alternative Songs [69] 19
Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales [70] 37
Year-end charts
Chart (1992)Position
Festive 50 (John Peel) [71] 3

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  1. Accounts regarding the recording of "Jesus Built My Hotrod"—including these given by Jourgensen, Barker and Haynes—were featured in multiple publications, ranging from the 1990 [1] [2] :55 [3] [4] [5] to the 2010s. [6] [7] [8]
  2. In the April 2, 1993 issue of Goldmine , writer Jo-Ann Greene stated that prior to Haynes' appearance, Jourgensen was going to perform vocals and already had lyrics for it (Greene 1993, p. 40).
  3. The extended single version of the song—styled “Redline/Whiteline Version”—is approximately eight minutes and fifteen seconds long, [27] [22] while the shortened one, styled “Short, Pusillanimous, So-They-Can-Fit-More-Commercials-On-The-Radio Edit”, is three minutes and forty-five seconds long. [28]


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  3. Punter, Jenine (November 1992). "Ministry: The Medium Is The Message" (scan). Spotlight. Music Express . Vol. 17 no. 177. p. 12 via archive.
  4. 1 2 3 Greene 1993, p. 40.
  5. Leão, Tom (1997). Heavy metal: guitarras em fúria (in Portuguese). São Paulo: Editora 34. pp. 193–194. ISBN   85-7326-077-7.
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  7. 1 2 3 4 Dan MacIntosh (February 18, 2012). "Al Jourgensen of Ministry". Songfacts. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  8. Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, p. 131.
  9. 1 2 Corcoran, Michael (December 15, 1991). "Lawyers build 'Hotrod' case". Chicago Sun-Times . Archived from the original on August 28, 2018. Retrieved August 27, 2018 via Highbeam.
  10. Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, pp. 131–132.
  11. Scaccia, Mike (July 13, 2012). "Ministry guitarist Mike Scaccia on Rigor Mortis, Psalm 69 and his friendship with Al Jourgensen". Westword (Interview). Interviewed by Tom Murphy. Retrieved May 20, 2018. [Mike Scaccia:] One night, the very last song on the demo I was bringing in was a joke. It was Bill Rieflin telling me to play as fast as I can. That turned into 'T.V. Song.' That was one of the first tracks we came up with for Psalm 69. It was the B-side to 'Jesus Built My Hotrod.'
  12. Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013, p. 132.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 Steve Huey. "Jesus Built My Hotrod - Ministry". AllMusic . All Media Network . Retrieved May 25, 2018.
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  18. 1 2 Jon Pareles (August 9, 1992). "RECORDINGS VIEW; Ministry Turns Sound Into Fury". The New York Times . Retrieved November 8, 2017. ‘Jesus Built My Hot Rod,’ which features vocals by Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers, fibrillates like speed metal intercut with bits of rockabilly.
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  22. 1 2 Miller 2014, p. 86.
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  24. Fontenoy 2003, p. 676.
  25. Ministry 1992 , track listing.
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  32. Miller 2014 , p. 97; Jourgensen & Wiederhorn 2013 , p. 159: "[Jon Wiederhorn:] What do you remember about recording ‘Jesus Built My Hotrod?’ / [Gibby Haynes:] I remember getting fucked over. I obviously did the lyrics and I got credit for song writing."
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  35. Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). "Ministry". Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 250–251. ISBN   0-679-75574-8. On the Psalm 69 track ‘Jesus Built My Hot Rod,’ a collaboration with Gibby from the Buttholes, you can hear how punk became industrial became dance became grungey danceable industrial with a twist of rock reference for spice. It’s like an updated, theorized ‘Surfin’ Bird.’
  36. Miller 2014, p. 82.
  37. Fontenoy 2003, p. 676; Miller 2014, p. 82.
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Primary sources
  • “Jesus Built My Hotrod” (CD booklet). Ministry. Sire Records. 1991. 9 40211-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  • ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ (CD booklet). Ministry. Sire Records. 1992. 9 26727-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
Secondary sources