God in Three Persons is an album by The Residents, released in 1988 on Rykodisc. God In Three Persons tells the story of Mr. X, a disgraced evangelist who discovers a pair of conjoined twins with miraculous healing abilities.
A theatrical adaptation of the album debuted in Bourges, France in April 2019, with additional performances in San Francisco and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in January 2020.
Origins & Composition
In 1987, The Residents were struggling through the third installment of the American Composers Series, which they'd decided would be a tribute to Sun Ra & Ray Charles. The project was going slowly, and perhaps the band had lost interest, so when one Resident said, "Hey, I'm tired of this two sided record stuff! Why don't we make an album specifically for compact disc? That's got one side all the way, baby!" the other Residents all frantically nodded in approval, and began to write an epic hour long concept album about gender identity, religion, and Siamese twins.
One of the earliest pieces written during these sessions was a 23 minute instrumental piece composed by The Singing Resident, entitled Knot In A Million Years., which was shortened down to the 5 minute Loss of a Loved one. Following this, a rough demo tape of the material was recorded, featuring Hardy Fox on lead vocals and slightly different arrangements from the final album. The Residents had left space in the arrangements for their good friend Snakefinger to add his slick guitar, but he was on tour in Europe, and so they'd have to wait for him to return.
But sadly, Snakefinger would not return, as he died of a heart attack in Linz, Austria on July 1st, 1987. This sudden loss, no doubt, effected The Residents heavily during recording.
In Summer of 1987, the Pee-Wee Herman Show moved from it's studios from New York City, to Hollywood, California. The Residents were brought on to score select episodes of the show's second season. It was here, where they were introduced to Midi technology and DAWs. After experimenting with it in their episode scores, they began working on a private project, entitled The Snakey Wake, in a loving tribute to Snakefinger, which was performed live in August of 1988. This new technology was bound to make The Residents' lives easier, so they continued production on the album using it.
A local female vocalist, Laurie Amat, had been grandfathered into the sessions after she worked with the group on their abandoned Sun Ra & Ray Charles album. This would be the first of her many collaborations with The Residents, with her most recent work being on their 2020 God In Three Persons Live performances. Composer, performer and friend of Snakefinger Richard Marriott, had also been brought in to provide brass and woodwind instruments. The sessions were produced by The Cryptic Corporation.
God In Three Persons was finally completed in February of 1988.
Release & Potato Chips
Due to financial problems being faced by Ralph Records, The Residents had to back away from the label which they had founded sixteen years prior, and instead signed to Rykodisc on an a one album deal.
Before the release of the album, The Residents had the idea to release the project in multiple flavors, the same way you'd release the same chip in different styles. They envisioned God In Three Persons the album, God In Three Persons the EP, God In Three Persons the Soundtrack and God In Three Persons the Single. When this idea was pitched to Rykodsic and Torso, nether were too fascinated with the idea, but reluctantly agreed.
God In Three Persons is narrated in the first person by Mr. X, a Colonel Tom Parker-type character and disgraced evangelist, who finds a pair of conjoined twins who have miraculous healing powers. X convinces the twins to let him manage their careers, touring them as holy healers and conducting services during which they cure the masses.
Mr. X begins to lust after the "female" twin, before realizing that the twins' sexes are fluid, rather than fixed. When he discovers that the twins are far more worldly than he had believed, and therefore less under his control, he conducts a vicious rape in which he severs the connection between the two, separating them forever.
In the end, he realises that his feelings for the twins were not being imposed on him by the twins, but came from within himself.
Mr. X is accompanied throughout with occasional commentary sung by Laurie Amat, who acts as a "Greek Chorus" (and sings the album's "opening credits" on the first track).
The Residents had briefly intended to follow the release of God In Three Persons with a theatrical stage performance tour, and got as far as writing an overture to the show, but the idea was shelved when the group chose instead to develop the Cube-E production in 1989.
The group revisited the idea in April 2019, with the debut of a new performance based on the album in Bourges, France. This production featured the Singing Resident in the lead role of Mr. X. Four American performances followed, with genderqueer artist Jiz Lee in the dual role of the twins; a preview at The Lab in San Francisco and three shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in in January 2020.
These performances featured a new and fully re-orchestrated version of God In Three Persons (complete with overture), with contributions from long-time collaborator Joshua Raoul Brody. Partly funded by an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, the show also featured video projections from John Sanborn, and costumes and set design by Leigh Barbier.
- Main Titles (God In Three Persons) (3:51)
- Hard & Tenderly (4:41)
- Devotion? (3:20)
- The Thing About Them (4:03)
- Their Early Years (4:40)
- Loss of a Loved One (4:50)
- The Touch (3:45)
- The Service (5:22)
- Confused (By What I Felt Inside) (4:36)
- Fine Fat Flies (4:04)
- Time (1:11)
- Silver, Sharp and Could Not Care (3:00)
- Kiss of Flesh (9:39)
- Pain and Pleasure (4:33)
2019 pREServed edition
- Knot In A Million Years (22:59)
- Main Titles (Demo) (3:20)
- Devotion? (Demo) (2:51)
- The Thing About Them (Demo) (4:11)
- Loss Of A Loved One (Demo) (3:31)
- The Touch / Time* (Demo) (2:04)
- The Service (Demo) (3:55)
- Confused (By What I Felt Inside) (Demo) (3:19)
- Loss Of A Loved One (Extended) (5:43)
- Holy Kiss Of Flesh (Single Mix) (16:05)
- Land Of 1000 Dances / Double Shot (13:13) [Written by Chris Kenner]
- Their Early Years (Live) (5:18)
- Hard And Tenderly (Live) (5:14)
- Composed, Arranged & Performed by: The Residents
- Song Stylist: Laurie Amat
- Brass & Woodwinds: Richard Mariott
- Package Design:PornoGraphics
- Cover Photography: Henrik Kam
Additional Credits Featured on Later Pressings
|2000||East Side Digital||US||Remastered Version|
|Euro Ralph||EU||2xCD set with the soundtrack.|
|2019||New Ralph Too & Cherry Red Records||UK, EU & US||3xCD box set with the soundtrack and others. Remastered|