10 Songs About Cult Leader Jim Jones & Jonestown | Playlist
In our latest true crime playlist, we highlight 10 songs about cult leader Jim Jones and his followers at Jonestown.Cult is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious.” Throughout history, there have been a number of cults. The connotation of the aforementioned definition is negative. Furthermore, the organizations characterized as cults are also seen negatively. If you think you’re in a no-so-good-thing-called-a-cult, perhaps you should read this article. A big reason for a negative view of cults is the aftermath, many of which have resulted in death. No cult resulted in more loss of life than The People’s Temple – Jonestown – led by the infamous Jim Jones.
Jim Jones perfectly exemplifies the phrase “false prophet.” Ultimately, he led his “flock” to their deaths. That death was a mass suicide thanks to chiefly to cyanide-laced punch. Perhaps it’s his persuasiveness and devilish actions and influence that also often finds him labeled as not only a cult leader, but also a mass murderer. This playlist of 10 songs centers around Jones, the infamous cult he led, and most sadly, the unfortunate aftermath. Here are 10 songs about cult leader Jim Jones & Jonestown.
1. Accept, “Koolaid”
Album: Rise of Chaos, 2017
The youngest record on this playlist actually hails from a veteran heavy metal band, Accept. The German metal collective have been around since the 70s. “Koolaid” arrived in 2017, appearing on Rise of Chaos. This particular record focuses on the horrid happenings at The People’s Temple in Jonestown, the infamous cult led by Jim Jones. Here, vocalist Mike Tornillo takes on the character of an ex-member to portray the horrors.
“Running through the jungle / Way back in ’78 / Here’s the story of the people’s temple / And my great escape / Communing with a madman / The promise of utopia / White nights, suicide drills / Shades of things to come.”
The infamous mass suicide comes to head on the pre-chorus, which is varied throughout, but fundamentally the same.
“He [Jim Jones] said / We’re gonna mix it up / Add the cyanide / Then we’ll drink it up / You’re gonna feel so fine.”
Tornillo and Accept discourage partaking of this communion, while in the same token, seem to be making an argument about church and religion in general. It certainly isn’t the first instance of skepticism. In the case of Jim Jones and Jonestown, they definitely have a point.
“Don’t drink the Koolaid / Don’t taste the holy water / Don’t drink the Koolaid / No matter what the preacher says.”
2. The Brian Jonestown Massacre, “Ballad of Jim Jones”
Album: Thank God for Mental Illness, 1996
While “Koolaid” by Accept arrived in 2017, “Ballad of Jim Jones,” performed by The Brian Jonestown Massacre, arrives 21 years earlier. The Brian Jonestown Massacre are a psychedelic, folk band. Here, only the last verse of this ballad pertains to our horrid antagonist.
“I prayed to Buddha, to Allah, and Jim / I turned to Jesus and stayed there with him / I fell in deep but I learned how to swim / Now there’s no one who’s cleaner than me or than him.”
Safe to say, praying to Jim didn’t work out too well for Anton Newcombe. Depending how you interpret the lyrics, Newcombe seems to be a Christian, but also has the ability to discern falsehoods, false prophets, etc.
3. Church of Misery, “Reverend”
Album: Early Works Compilation, 2011
On “Reverend,” Church of Misery speaks as the voice of the insane, delusional cult leader Jim Jones. The record begins with spoken word excerpts that ultimately finds the parishioners addressing Jones as if he were God himself. In regards to singing, there are few lyrics. The featured lyrics ultimately focus on the demise of the people of Jonestown for no reason whatsoever.
“You die, don’t ask me way / Temple is the place where dead Angeles lies / Don’t pray for your tomorrow / Suicide is the way to escape from your pain / I’m your farther and lead you to death.”
4. Deicide, “Carnage in the Temple of the Damned”
Album: Deicide, 1990
Previous Appearance: 10 Songs About Mass Murderers, Vol. 2 | Playlist
“Sacramental ceremony / People’s temple of the holy / Sepulchre for salvation / Suicidal confirmation.”
“Carnage in the Temple of the Damned” opens with the audio excerpts of Jim Jones commanding his flock to commit suicide. It’s a chilling start to a dark, unsettling joint by American death metal band, Deicide. Naturally, “Carnage in the Temple of the Damned” features ample religious references, coupled with utterly hellish vocals, gritty guitars, and sense of being damned for merely listening to the carnage.
“Forgive me father for I have sinned / You will never sin again!”
“When we meet again it will be the promised land / Death is in command to the victims of the plan.”
“Carnage of the dead / Mass cremations of the blessed / Sermonizing fatal end / In the temple of the damned.”
5. Manowar, “Guyana (Cult of the Damned)”
Album: Sign of the Hammer, 1984
“Thank you for the Kool aid Reverend Jim / We’re glad to leave behind their world of sin / Our lifeless bodies fall on holy ground / Rotting flesh a sacrificial mound /Were you our God or a man in a play who took our applause and forced us to stay? / Now all together we lived as we died on your command / By your side / Guyana in the Cult of The Damned / Give us your word for the grand final stand.”
Essentially, the members of The People’s Temple were willing to follow Jim Jones to death. Adams, speaking as a victim, questions Jones’ motives. Obviously, historically, we know Jones was clearly a false prophet. Adams and Manowar expand upon the feelings cult members had towards Jones as well as what went down.
“In the Cult of The Damned we all worked the land, too afraid to look up / We all feared his hand / Hurry my children / There isn’t much time / But we’ll meet again on the other side / Be good to the children and old people / First hand them a drink / They’re dying of thirst.”
6. Concrete Blonde, “Jonestown”
Album: Mexican Moon, 1993
“Jonestown,” a tune by former alternative rock band Concrete Blonde, commences with Jim Jones preaching a rousing sermon, riling up his congregation. This sets the tone for what Johnette Napolitano and company have in store. Napolitano sings:
“They’re looking for Jesus / They’re looking for more / Just what are they looking up here to me for / They’re looking for someone / They’re looking for Christ / They’re looking for some human sacrifice / It looks like Jonestown again / It looks like Jonestown / It looks like Jonestown again / It looks like Jonestown.”
Concrete Blonde definitely speaks about the power of persuasion. The members of Jonestown were the “low” members of society, hence, they were looking for something, someone that served as voice for them. Unfortunately, Jim Jones was a cult leader, not a legit prophet or man of the cloth. The People’s Temple or a movement patterned after it – any cult – isn’t a viable pathway.
7. Polkadot Cadaver, “Last Call in Jonestown”
Album: Last Call in Jonestown, 2013
“Sunday mantras repeated together / Predict second coming’s, I forecast the weather / Snakes never bite us, gathered we sing / God is our shepherd, the glory, the king / I’m knocking on your hearts door, let me inside / Follow me now, let me be your guide / Gather now children and welcome the dead /And silence the beast inside of your head.”
It’s hard to believe that Jim Jones was able to lead so many people on the insane trip that was The People’s Temple. But, as Polkadot Cadaver and everyone else appearing on this playlist show, that’s exactly what the “shepherd” did.
“Last Call! Last Call! Last Call in Jonestown / Bottoms up, Swallow the hemlock
/ Drink from the cup!”
“Save us now father from what we’ve become / Bring us together now as one / Guide us to paradise to Jesus the son / Save us now father from what we’ve become.”
8. The Acacia Strain, “Jonestown”
Album: Wormwood, 2010
Metal collective The Acacia Strain have a knack for using dark, twisted people as inspiration for their music. The band already graced a previous playlist, Chilling Songs About Serial Killers, Take 4 | Playlist, covering the utterly despicable, Satanist serial killer Richard Ramirez (“Ramirez”). Here, they for cult leader/mass suicide proponent Jim Jones with “Jonestown,” taken from the same album as “Ramirez” (Wormwood).
“Born low, no lives / Wasting your days, waiting to die / I wouldn’t mind if you never woke up again / Goodbye my friend / No hopes, no dreams / Breaking away from reality / Today is the day you see the consequence / Where you never wake up again.”
The Acacia Strain speak on the horrid reality of Jonestown with the mass suicide, or better yet, the “revolutionary suicide.” Sane individuals realize that it was absolutely insane. Jim Jones definitely wasn’t sane, and one has to question how weak-minded those so easily persuaded by Jones were.
“I was born a monster / We will die the same / No one can live forever / I will become a household name.”
9. The Vapors, “Jimmie Jones”
Album: Turning Japanese – Best of The Vapors, 1996
“Do you wanna feel small? / Do you wanna fight back? / Do you wanna new soul to stop your heart attack / Do you wanna take a walk / Then come into the garden with me?”
Again, the persuasiveness of Jim Jones or any cult is what’s frightening. In that regard, the inviting, fun nature of “Jimmie Jones” makes perfect sense. The band continues:
“They tell me Jimmie’s seen a sign / Says he understands everything / They tell me Jimmie’s got a line / To the man from the ministry /…He’s got a mission in life / A thousand lives to lead / Do you wanna take his hand and come into the garden with me?”
Eventually, even the optimistic Vapors have a change of tone – at least lyrically. While “Jimmie Jones” maintains its major key and bright sound, the doubt and darkness creep in.
“There’s a rumor going ‘round / That the garden’s not the place to be / And little Jimmie’s in the dark between the devil and the deep blue see.”
“So, we’ve all gotta change clothes / And we’ve all gotta change sides / We gotta love you
/ Leave you miles behind / But if you wanna talk a walk / Then come into the garden with me.”
10. Heathen, “Hypnotized”
Album: Victims of Deception, 1991
“Masses form into religion to fulfill their lives / Seeking answers in the bible, hear their helpless cries / Mindlessly, no thought, they follow false prophets of the flesh / Depend on the spirit of the One to grant their every wish.”
Notice, “Hypnotized” isn’t named after Jim Jones, The People’s Temple, or Jonestown. That’s because it seems that the band, like Accept on “Koolaid,” are making a bigger message about religion in general. Basically, the assertion is that it’s poppycock.
“It’s not too late to change your fate / You must control your own mind / You’re the only one that can release you / It’s yourself you’ve got to find.”
“Fools give money to the church to earn their place with God / In our eyes it’s contradiction and religious fraud / Hypnotized by what they say /Your mind is under their control / Hypnotized you will obey /Your fate will soon be called.”