If Jesus Had a Sister

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2024
Original album - none
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - bonus track with the single "Dancing Star"

One of the bonus tracks with the "Dancing Star" single, this song starts slowly, ominously, with pronounced piano block chords, although the tempo picks up as the song progresses. It seems to assume that Jesus indeed did not have a sister, which is perhaps to be expected given Neil's Roman Catholic upbringing, and thanks in turn to the Catholic doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Jesus's mother Mary. (See the first bullet-point annotation below for more on this subject.) The narrator of the song—which in an imaginative, remarkably surprising twist at the end is revealed to be Judas Iscariot—suggests that a sister, if only he'd had one, might have helped bring Jesus back down to earth, so to speak. Judas muses that a sister might have helped "ground" Jesus more, deflating him of his messianic aspirations and encouraging him to adopt activities more practical (such as taking up a trade) than preaching and less dangerous than annoying "the authorities." In short, Judas believes that a sister might have been better able to dissuade Jesus from his self-destructive path than Judas himself has been able or willing to achieve. And he poignantly maintains that he wishes this only because he considers himself Jesus's friend.

It's important to point out that this song hinges on the concept that women—perhaps even more so than in the ancient world than today—are often more practical and realistic than the men in their lives. ("Get real, Mister!") More focused on the home and family than men, women are less prone toward delusions of grandeur (so to speak). Since Jesus's mother isn't any help in this regard ("… though she's very nice / She never seems to offer any sensible advice"), a sister might instead have been able to bring the aspiring Messiah around.

Of course, we know that Judas will ultimately betray Jesus, leading directly to his death. In this way, this song helps to explain Judas's mindset as he moves toward this outcome, which will also lead to his own death by suicide. Everything that he wants a sister to say to Jesus is what he himself wants to say. Judas's hopes for Jesus are as much for himself as for anyone else.


List cross-references