Crystal Blue Persuasion” is a 1968 song originally recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells and composed by Eddie Gray, Tommy Jamesand Mike Vale.
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.
In a 1985 interview in Hitch magazine, James said the title of the song came to him while he was reading the BiblicalBook of Revelation:
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.
With an appropriate lighting scheme, the 2000s edition of Tommy James and the Shondells perform “Crystal Blue Persuasion”
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.
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 Singleschart for three weeks behind Zager and Evans‘s single “In the Year 2525“. The single version differs from the album version of the song with horn overdubs added to the mix and a longer bongosoverdub 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.
Tito Puente, Joe Bataan, The Heptones, Morcheeba, Concrete Blonde and John Wesley Harding are among those who have covered the song.