Crystal Blue Persuasion
|"Crystal Blue Persuasion"|
|Single by Tommy James and the Shondells|
|from the album Crimson and Clover|
|Format||7" 45 RPM|
|Length||4:02 (album version)
3:45 (single version)
|Writer(s)||Eddie Gray, Tommy James, Mike Vale|
|Producer(s)||Tommy James, Ritchie Cordell|
|Tommy James and the Shondells singles chronology|
A gentle-tempoed groove, "Crystal Blue Persuasion" was built around a prominent organ part with an understated arrangement, more akin to The Rascals' sound at the time than to James's contemporary efforts with psychedelic rock. It included melodic passages for an acoustic guitar, as well as a bass pattern, played between the bridge, and the third verse of the song.
I took the title from the Book of Revelations [sic] in the Bible, reading about the New Jerusalem. The words jumped out at me, and they're not together; they're spread out over three or four verses. But it seemed to go together, it's my favorite of all my songs and one of our most requested.
A popular rumor among Jehovah's Witnesses was that James had read their book "The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life", published in 1968 by their Watchtower Bible and Tract Society publishing arm. The song's themes of love, peace and brotherhood bore some similarity to the "Truth" book which envisions an earthly paradise based on the Watchtower Society's teachings about the Bible, and the book had a blue cover.
However, according to James's manager, James was actually inspired by his readings of the Book of Ezekiel, which (he remembered as) speaking of a blue Shekhinah light that represented the presence of the Almighty God, and of the Book of Isaiah and Book of Revelation, which tell of a future age of brotherhood of mankind, living in peace and harmony.
Many listeners thought "Crystal Blue Persuasion" was a drug song advocating the use of "crystal meth" (Methamphetamine), while on the West Coast. At the time of the song's release there were several popular types of high quality blue-colored LSD tablets in circulation—some listeners generally assumed James was referring to "acid". In 1979, noted music writer Dave Marsh described it as "a transparent allegory about James' involvement with amphetamines."
When released as a single in June 1969, "Crystal Blue Persuasion" became one of the biggest hits for the group, peaking at number two on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. The single version differs from the album version of the song with horn overdubs added to the mix and a longer bongos overdub before the third verse.
A primitive non-representational music video was made, that showed various scenes of late 1960s political and cultural unrest and imagery of love and peace.
Appearances in popular culture
"Crystal Blue Persuasion" has been used in numerous media and entertainment properties, both onscreen and off.
"Crystal Blue Persuasion" has appeared in the films A Walk on the Moon (1999), The Secret Life of Girls (1999), Zodiac (2007), "The Nanny Diaries" (2007) and the TV show How to Make it in America (2010). The song is also featured in the movie The Expendables 2 (2012), while Barney (Sylvester Stallone) is flying his plane.
The song is referenced in Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four Annual (Vol. 1, #21) from 1988. The name references the character in the book, Crystalia Amaquelin, the blue area of the moon where part of the story takes place, and the plotline which is formed around coercing Crystal to return to the Inhumans.
It was also used in the pilot episode of the television series The Wonder Years, the episode "Back to Where You've Never Been" (2012) from the television series Fringe, and an Estée Lauder commercial.
In 2012, "Crystal Blue Persuasion" was used in the eighth episode of the fifth season of Breaking Bad, "Gliding Over All", during a montage depicting the process involved to bring main character Walter White's methamphetamine operation and its signature blue crystal meth to an international level. This montage was subsequently parodied as the opening scene in The Simpsons season 24, episode 17 "What Animated Women Want", using the same song.