Mark Edgar Stuart – “Don’t Blame Jesus”

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If you’re less familiar with Stuart’s two full-length solo records - Blues for Lou (2013) and Trinity My Dear (2015) – you might know him as a rhythm section staple for John Paul Keith and Cory Branan. Look for “Don’t Blame Jesus” now on all digital music retailers, and if you’re lucky enough to see him live – he’ll play release shows this week in Memphis, Nashville, Little Rock and Tupelo – you can pick up the 7” vinyl, which includes vinyl-only B-side “Jihadi John.”

It seems a fitting time for a songwriter to get a little political.

Bass player turned singer-songwriter Mark Edgar Stuart’s first foray into political commentary was, like most of his songs, quite personal. You might remember the oom-pah tuba and sing-song melody line of “Ms. America,” from his critically acclaimed 2015 LP Trinity My Dear. But “Don’t Blame Jesus,” a new single out today, is a bit different.

“I was watching the news one day, and I don’t really watch the news,” Stuart says. “I just found myself having this vision of Jesus up there on his cloud, just looking down at the world he created, saying, "What in heaven’s name have y'all done?  I created this wonderful place for you, and you done screwed it all up. I ain’t coming back. Y'all can have it.’”

He doesn’t remember a tune ever coming to him as quickly as this one did. For a song about Jesus, it’s not particularly religious – but like much of Stuart’s work it offers a wry, cutting view of the world. It takes something old – the idea of the second coming – and makes it new again, juxtaposing the ancient imagery of traditional Christianity with the very real, gut-wrenching realities of 2016.