Too Much Heaven on Their Minds

I think I’ve never yet told you that Jesus Christ Superstar was one of my all-time favourite rock operas. I first heard it in the 1990s on an audiotape; then I watched the film on the videotape; and in 1999 I went to the Mossovet Theatre in Moscow where the Russian version has been running for over 20 years now.

Jesus Christ Superstar was filmed in 1973 in Advat, the Dead Sea, and the Bell Caverns in Israel, and now and again I can’t stop marvelling at the gift of not only Andrew Lloyd Webber, but also Tim Rice. This Judas’s aria alone is a perfect example; and the interpretation by the late Carl Anderson is just inimitable and, in my opinion, is still unsurpassed.

“Too much heaven on their minds” is a genuine line, and it is in direct relation to Marx’s statement that proletarians “have nothing to lose but their chains”. Be it Heaven, figuratively speaking, or the bright future, the faith leads people to great achievements, including a revolution. These days we wonder how could someone possibly believe in this better life in Heaven or in the Communist future. The rub is here, to quote Paul Arden: you cannot have faith in what you can prove. If you can prove it, then you can’t have faith in it. Jesus himself had not had proof for his vision, and perhaps this is the reason his faith was so contagious. The same explanation underpins the Revolution in Russia where people had for years been living in poverty and slavery.

Last but not least, Judas’s aria also supports what I recently read somewhere: don’t think that someone may really want to stop you from doing your thing. Usually people are waiting for someone mad to start doing something so they can follow him. Be it Jesus or Marx, the world is really waiting for the visionaries, the odd, the mad.


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