The Chieftains with Jackson Browne - The Rebel Jesus (1991)
The singer-songwriter, who is deservedly in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, can be a bit preachy when he wants to be, and he is again here, but no one can dispute what the man is saying.
The last two verses are the key to the song. Browne points out that people often feel more generous at Christmas so they'll give to those who were less fortunate than themselves during the holidays. But, if anyone tries to dig deeper and root out the poverty that envelops the downtrodden they are often scorned like Jesus was. This message is coming from a man who is admittedly a "heathen and a pagan," but on this occasion he is "on the side of the rebel Jesus." At the same time Browne doesn't want to spoil what is understandably for many the most wonderful time of the year.
The song's arrangement takes on an appropriately serious tone and features excellent backing from the session's acclaimed hosts. The entire album is worthy, especially if you're looking for something different to listen to at Christmastime.
All the streets are filled with laughter and lightNAnd the music of the seasonAnd the merchants' windows are all brightWith the faces of the childrenAnd the families hurrying to their homesWhile the sky darkens and freezesWill be gathering around the hearths and tablesGiving thanks for God's gracesAnd the birth of the rebel JesusWell they call him by 'the Prince of Peace'And they call him by 'the Savior'And they pray to him upon the seasAnd in every bold endeavorAnd they fill his churches with their pride and goldAs their faith in him increasesBut they've turned the nature that I worship inFrom a temple to a robber's denIn the words of the rebel JesusWell we guard our world with locks and gunsAnd we guard our fine possessionsAnd once a year when Christmas comesWe give to our relationsAnd perhaps we give a little to the poorIf the generosity should seize usBut if any one of us should interfereIn the business of why there are poorThey get the same as the rebel JesusNow pardon me if I have seemedTo take the tone of judgementFor I've no wish to come betweenThis day and your enjoymentIn a life of hardship and of earthly toilThere's a need for anything that frees usSo I bid you pleasureAnd I bid you cheerFrom a heathen and a paganOn the side of the rebel Jesus