Top Ten Songs About Plagues, Egypt, And Exodus

1 egypt john moore getty images Top Ten Songs About Plagues, Egypt, And Exodus

Photo by John Moore//Getty Images

Last night, Jewish people around the world celebrated the first night of Pesach, or Passover, which commemorates the story of Exodus. If you aren’t familiar with the story of Exodus, it is when the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.

Part of the Exodus story includes God imposing ten plaques of Biblical proportions on the Egyptian people in order to help the Israelites to freedom. Nothing conveys the emotion of  an intense story as well as music, so just in time for Passover, we’ve rounded up Ten Songs About Plague, Egypt, and Exodus.

10. “Walk Like An Egyptian”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Bangles[/lastfm]

2 egypt john moore getty images Top Ten Songs About Plagues, Egypt, And Exodus

Photo by John Moore//Getty Images

This poppy tune by the Bangles might not create visions of plague, pestilence, and eventual freedom from slavery, but it does include apropos lyrics that might describe what happened to the Pharaoh’s men when they ran after the fleeing Israelites:

“All the old paintings on the tombs /They do the sand dance don’t you know /If they move too quick (oh whey oh) /They’re falling down like a domino.

Plus, it’s just fun to do the dance randomly in the streets and pretend you are as awesome as Susanna Hoffs.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

9. “Exodus Song”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Platters [/lastfm]

3 egpyt john moore getty images Top Ten Songs About Plagues, Egypt, And Exodus

Photo by John Moore//Getty Images

A cover of one of the most infamous “Exodus” songs out there, we like this version better than Andy Williams’ because it has a lighter, less serious touch to it. This helps when you are singing super intense, slightly grim lyrics like:

“To make this land our home/If I must fight, I’ll fight to make this land our own/Until I die, this land is mine.”

8. “Pyramid Song”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Radiohead[/lastfm]

4 egypt jason larkin getty images Top Ten Songs About Plagues, Egypt, And Exodus

Photo by Jason Larkin//Getty Images

Radiohead has a way of evoking pure emotion through just their melodies. Yorke and company do that with creepy ease with their tune “Pyramid Song.” It tells a spiritual story of redemption, freedom, protection, and death. “Pyramid Song” alludes to the Nile River, the Hades river, and the Exodus story all in a few complex lyrics:

“I jumped in the river and what did I see?/Black-eyed angels swam with me/A moon full of stars and astral cars/All the things I used to see/All my lovers were there with me/All my past and futures/And we all went to heaven in a little row boat/There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt”

7. “The Meaning of Lice”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Stephen Merritt[/lastfm]

5 egypt marco di lauro gtty images Top Ten Songs About Plagues, Egypt, And Exodus

Photo by Marco Di Lauro//Getty Images

Stephen Merritt of Magnetic Fields fame has a way of taking his dirge-like voice and crafting wickedly witty songs around a musical monotone. He does that adeptly with his song, “The Meaning of Lice,” which talks wryly about the plague of pestilence that was inflicted on the Egyptian people:

“Our God would want this all to turn to pestilence/strange angels so unjust to peasants in their tents/…lice, lice in paradise/religion ain’t philosophy.”

6. “Creeping Death”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Metallica[/lastfm]

6 egypt sean gallup gtty images1 Top Ten Songs About Plagues, Egypt, And Exodus

Photo by Sean Gallup//Getty Images

This heavy metal song from Metallica is dark, intense, and scarily loud, but these metal boys filter their rage by telling one of the oldest stories in the Book, i.e. the story of Exodus:

“Slaves/Hebrews born to serve, to the pharaoh/Heed/To his every word, live in fear/Faith/Of the unknown one, the deliverer/Wait/Something must be done, four hundred years.”

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5.  “The Plague”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Scott Walker[/lastfm]

7 egypt sean gallup getty images Top Ten Songs About Plagues, Egypt, And Exodus

Photo by Sean Gallup//Getty Images

68-year-old singer-songwriter, Scott Walker, has always been ahead of his time both lyrically and musically. Before it was considered cool to write rock ‘n roll about religious matters, Walker was writing songs like “The Plague” which talked about the unfair psychological conditions of life–which felt like the physical torment of a plague:

“And everyday I’ve got to fight the plague/How can I live an hour like this/when anguish strikes me like a fist”

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4. “Glittering Clouds”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Imogen Heap[/lastfm]

8 egypt john moore getty images Top Ten Songs About Plagues, Egypt, And Exodus

Photo by John Moore//Getty Images

Imogen Heap’s song “Glittering Clouds” sounds like a fanciful fairytale of fireworks and stars, but it’s actually a song about the Plague of Locusts over Egypt:

“Domino motion jump starts when we touch/The blackout approaching/Here it comes now, wish me luck/It’s all over, it’s all over, it’s all over in a flash/I can’t remember/What have I done now?”

Who knew pestilence could be so pretty?

3. “Exodus”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Bob Marley [/lastfm]

9 egypt john moore getty images Top Ten Songs About Plagues, Egypt, And Exodus

Photo by John Moore//Getty Images

What better way to celebrate moving away from the shackles of an oppressive leader than reggae-funking out with Bob Marley to lyrics like:

“Exodus/movement of Jah people! Oh, yeah! /(Movement of Jah people!) Send us another brother Moses! /(Movement of Jah people!) From across the Red Sea! /(Movement of Jah people!) Send us another brother Moses! /(Movement of Jah people!) From across the Red Sea!/Movement of Jah people

2. “Katonah” -[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Rufus Wainwright[/lastfm]

10 egpyt chris hondros getty images Top Ten Songs About Plagues, Egypt, And Exodus

Photo by Chris Hondros//Getty Images

You might not be able to hear it directly in the lyrics of Rufus Wainwright’s song “Katonah,” but Wainwright is singing about the calamity that took the first-born son from the Egyptian families:

“I’m going to Katonah to bury Jack Johnson/And give his poor Mama a moment’s distraction/I once took the Taconic when I was a teenager /Down to Katonah, to see her and her young son.”

Except this first-born is Jack Johnson? We wonder if Wainwright has some secret animosity against the affable surfer singer-songwriter. Probably not as much as Moses did for the Pharaoh!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

1. “Fire In Cairo”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Cure[/lastfm]

11 egypt julian finney getty images Top Ten Songs About Plagues, Egypt, And Exodus

Photo by Julien Finney//Getty Images

We’re pretty sure this song has nothing to do with any Biblical story (except for maybe Original Sin?), but lyrics like,  “See your head/In the fading light/And through the dark/Your eyes shine bright/And burn/Like fire/Burn like fire in Cairo” are a good metaphor for the burning bush and Moses’ leadership through the vast deserts.

  • Got another song about Passover, plagues, Egypt, or Exodus to share with us? Let us know in the comments!
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