Joan Osborne – more than if God was one of us

Back in the 1990s, Joan Osborne became a sensation with a soulful, heartfelt rendition of the song “One of us” penned by Eric Bazilian. The chorus goes as follows:

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home

The song caused a stir, but many felt like I do, that it was an attempt to make God more real to more people. I found it moving. While this may have been her biggest hit, it would truly sell her short if she is only remembered for this one song. My wife and I enjoy her many songs, especially from the album “Righteous Love.” If you only had one CD to buy to get a real sense of what she is all about it would be this album.

One of my favorites of hers is a cover of Bob Dylan’s song “Make you feel my love.” Here is sample lyric from Dylan’s song, which she sang better than any other cover.

I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue
I’d go crawling down the avenue
Oh there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
To make you feel my love
There are several great songs off this album. One of our favorites is “Baby Love” written by Osborne, Jack Petruzzelli, Erik della Penna, & Rainy Orteca. Here is a provocative lyric from the song, which leaves little to the imagination:


Take me in your fist
Prove to me that you exist
Be as plain as day
Watch my body melt away
There in black and white
Victim of my appetite
Make me understand
Do you want to be the man

“Angel Face” written by Osborne and Joseph Lyburn Arthur is also a straightforward song. Maybe that is a reason we like her so much, as she sings evocative and provocative songs in a soulful style which she arcs to the song. Here are some lyrics from Angel Face:

I was a woman
I was a mother
Woke in a fever from what I’ve been under
You made my heart beat
Like God made the thunder

I was struck down by your angel face

Another interesting song of hers is “Hurricane” written by Osborne, Petruzelli, della Penna and Mike Manzini. Here is the final chorus from the song, which to me is the rush to satisfy a lust, which is the only Novocaine to numb the intense feelings.

Like a hurricane
In the face of the wind and the rain
Like a hurricane
When you open you open a vein
Give me more give me more Novocaine

If you have not heard Osborne sing or only remember her for the “One of us” song, look into her work. Whether she is covering someone else’s songs or her own, she brings a unique style. There are numerous videos on these songs, but check out Bob Dylan’s song to see if you like her style. She is touring smaller venues now, so she may be coming near you soon. You will be in for a treat.

10 thoughts on “Joan Osborne – more than if God was one of us

    • Thanks Amaya. Osborne is coming to Asheville, I believe October 27. If it was not a Monday night, we might attend and I dare not attend without my wife. I think she is in Atlanta over the weekend, so we may venture there. I have heard Adele’s version. I love different style voices singing the same song; it makes it a little unique. She plays smaller venues as I think she is not one who likes to tour and her sound is not “pop” so she gets less airplay.

      • Googled it. October 29, Wednesday. I might try to go. The Grey Eagle is a very cool little venue. I saw Old Crow Medicine Show there a while back, and another favorite band, HoneyHoney.

  1. I have the album that “One of Us” is on and I like the whole thing, so I’m sure I would like the Righteous Love album. I also thought she did a great job performing in the Standing in the Shadows of Motown film.

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