Song Lyric Sunday – Sweet Cherry Wine

This week we have the fruit prompts of Apple / Banana / Cherry / Olive / Orange /Strawberry.

Mid sixties, enter the era of psychedlia. This era encompassed everything to do with the psychedelic drug culture. Music, art, and manner of dress all encompassed the bright ‘psychedelic’ colors and aura of the time.

Tommy James and the Shondells had been labeled a ‘bubblegum’ band following their releases of “I Think We’re Alone Now”, “Mirage”, and “Mony Mony”. The label did not sit well with the band. At some point they were able to shift their identity to a Psychedelic Band with songs like “Crystal Blue Persuasion” and “Crimson and Clover”.

Released in 1969 on their album “Cellophane Symphony”, “Sweet Cherry Wine”, like some of their other songs, were thought to be about the drug culture or an anti-war anthem. This was disputed in an interview with Songfacts:

“Expressing his Christian beliefs in this song, James told us that the “sweet cherry wine” is “A metaphor for the blood of Jesus.” Talking about his faith, James said: “I don’t worship every Sunday; I worship every day. Every hour of every day. It’s just me, it’s part of me. I became a Christian in 1967. I was brought up Catholic, but I really didn’t know my faith very well, didn’t know what I believed, why I believed what I believed. And in 1967 I was listening to Billy Graham at Shea Stadium on television. And we were writing, as a matter of fact, and I put the guitars down and started listening. And he just gave the most amazingly lucid teaching on why Jesus came. And I had never heard it put quite that way before. I had heard a lot of over-my-head sophisticated kind of things growing up. But I never really heard the gospel message quite like that. And there’s a moment, I equate it to hitting a champagne glass – a crystal champagne glass with a fork, you know how you get that pure tone? That’s kind of how I felt when I heard Billy Graham explain why Jesus came. And I knew I’d heard the truth. It’s too simple and too beautiful to not be the truth, and not be God. And I was actually high at the time, it’s true. It just cut right through everything that was going on with me, and I just got right up to the TV and put my hand on the TV and made my commitment right there.”

In 1970, Tommy James collapsed coming off stage from a reaction to drugs. He was actually pronounced dead, but did recover. He left the band and moved to the country to recuperate.

He would go on to a solo career which produced a few notable songs like “Dragging the Line”

He went on to re-record the song with a gospel group “The Kootz” with the style and feel of the song drastically altered. The song was released in 2005, the same week the original was released 36 years earlier.

Sweet Cherry Wine
Lyrics from Songfacts

Come on everyone we gotta get together now
Oh yeah, love’s the only thing that matters anyhow
And the beauty of life can only survive
If we love one another

Oh yeah yesterday my friends were marching out to war
Oh yeah listen now we ain’t a marching anymore
No we ain’t gonna fight
Only God has the right

To decide who’s to live and die
He gave us sweet cherry wine
So very fine
Drink it right down, pass it all around

So stimulating, so intoxicating
Sweet cherry wine
To open your mind
And everybody’s gonna feel so fine
Drinking sweet cherry wine
Yes they will

Watch the mountain turn
To dust and glow away
Oh Lord, you know there’s got to be a better way
And the old masquerade is a no soul parade
Marchin’ through the ruins of time
To save us He gave us sweet cherry wine

Sweet cherry wine, so very fine
Drink it right down
Pass it all around
So stimulating, so intoxicating

Sweet cherry wine
Drink it with your brother
Trust in one another, yeah, yeah
He gave us sweet cherry wine

Sweet cherry wine
Drink it right down
Pass it all around
People don’t you know the cup is running over
Sweet cherry wine


Why not join in on this Sunday blogging ritual. Head over to Jim Adams’ blog to check out the rules and read some of the great responses to the weekly prompt.