Crystal Blue Persuasion - Tommy James and The Shondells

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"Crystal Blue Persuasion" - Tommy James and The Shondells (1969)

The title for "Crystal Blue Persuasion" came to Tommy James one day while he was reading the Bible's Book of Revelation about the New Jerusalem.

James said:

“The words jumped out at me, and they're not together; they're spread out over three or four verses.”

James was also inspired by the passage in the Book of Ezekiel which speaks of a blue light that represented the presence of the Almighty God, as well as the Book of Isaiah which tell of a future age of brotherhood of mankind, living in peace and harmony.

He added:

I as well as the rest of the band was becoming Christian at that time and it just felt very right as a sort of semi-religious poetic song.  'Crystal Blue Persuasion' was sort of our way of saying how proud we were of our new-found beliefs in a kind of pop record way."

The 1969, gentle track was built around a prominent organ part with an understated arrangement and melodic passages. It hit number two on the US charts in June 1969.

James felt the recording was overproduced so the band began the process of “unproducing” it by  pulling the instruments out until what was left was a conga drum, a bongo, a tambourine, a flamenco guitar, and a very light-sounding bass. The drums were removed completely and it wound up with just four instruments.

He remembers:

“The result was an effervescent sound about it with a lot of atmospherics that just weren't there when it had all those instruments on it. Suddenly when you emptied out the record it sounded like 'Crystal Blue' again. It had that light airy sound, which it needed to be right. It really was a very intricate un-production, pulling all the things out. Actually, it was tougher than putting them in because you didn't want to mess up the record, but you wanted to empty it out.”

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