Gary S. Paxton – Ode to The Outlaw
Jesus People had their eccentric relatives just like anyone else and Gary S. Paxton was Jesus Music’s odd but entertaining Uncle.
In the 60’s Gary worked or had his hand in hit singles like Alley Oop or Monster Mash, also producing country or rock bands like Paul Revere and The Raiders. After his struggle with alcohol and the suicide of a friend, Gary S. Paxton gave his life to Christ after walking into a church stoned.
Gary was known in the music business for doing crazy stuff and being very eccentric. He brought some of this with him when entering the Jesus Movement. Working with the country artists and the Jesus People of the time, Gary was becoming a very popular songwriter of the genres.
Gary would write songs for the church like, I’m Anchored in The Rock or He Was There All the Time. The other side of Gary S. Paxton’s lyrical songwriting was like a cross between Steve Taylor and Frank Zappa. The surreal and satirical would be set to humorous poetry, like being a Fat Christian or a Hippie going to heaven. Gary’s music was Country, Funk, Disco or Gospel. You never knew what you were going to get and you were not completely sure what you got when you heard it.
Gary’s first Christian album of 1975 was a Grammy Award winning album with a very long title; The Astonishing, Outrageous, Amazing, Incredible, Unbelievable, Different World of Gary S. Paxton. See what I mean about being eccentric… Gary always kept you entertained that’s for sure. The record had songs that could be in your church hymnal like He Was There All the Time. Then there were the other songs. Tunes like You Ain’t Smoking Them Cigarettes (Baby, Their Smoking You) and Sophisticated Savages that had some poor lady in the background screaming, “Rape! Rape!” over the song.
The next record, MORE from: The Astonishing, Outrageous, Amazing, Incredible, Unbelievable, Different World of Gary S. Paxton was the same format. Songs What a Friend We Have in Jesus had a country flavor to it but Nineveh Noose was a synth driven funky song comparing America to Nineveh of the Bible, “Well if your plantin’ weed you sure ain’t gonna reap wheat..Nineveh Noose sins on the loose, what ya gonna do when God is tired of all your abuse!” He would sing. Dark Comedy was often in Gary’s lyrics, songs like When the Meat Wagon Comes for You either had Jesus People laughing or scratching their heads. His song The World Didn’t Give it To Me And The World Can’t Take it Away was a favorite in the Jesus Movement along with No Shortage and Evidence.
The album Terminally Weird/Godly Right became even crazier and probably controversial, especially the song The Big A, The Big M about abortion.
He would tackle everything from abortion to Fat Christians and in the country song Ode to The Outlaw, Gary writes about “limp wristed men” and “churches with unisex steeples.” There is even a tune of Gary having a nightmare about himself being cloned and the chore of having to live with Gary S Paxton Daily. Popular songs were here like Blessed Assurance and I’m Anchored in The Rock of Ages. I feel Gary opted for the more terminally weird on this record. Mental Pollution, Progress and Will There Be Hippies in Heaven, are songs that would not be written in such a flavor lyrically until Steve Taylor.
Musically Gary seemed like a genius in many aspects. He was singing, writing and producing Country just as well as Funk, Disco or Gospel which made for an odd mix. Gary also owned his own label, Newpax, that brought us many Christian artists..
Later Gary would be shot (but survive) and would be hurled into Tammy Faye Baker rumors along with other crazy things. Gary is still around today in…of all places Branson, Missouri. Today he is just as eccentric and crazy as ever. Gary S. Paxton is The Jesus Movement’s Uncle that comes over for reunions and we all say “Oh, That’s Gary! He tells funny stories but don’t leave your food unattended.” -MP