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The Confessional 
By: George Carlin
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Rank this week: 30 (↑49)
Duration: 4:13 
Release Date: 1972  (Stavro Arrgolus) 
Lyrics By: George Carlin (Stavro Arrgolus) 
Music By: N/A (Stavro Arrgolus) 
Produced By: Monte Kay/Jack Lewis (Stavro Arrgolus) 
Released By: Little David LD 1004 (Stavro Arrgolus) 
Published By: Dead Sea Music Inc. (Stavro Arrgolus) 
Licensing: BMI (Stavro Arrgolus) 
Keywords: CITY LIFE, INTROSPECTIVE HUMOR, PRIESTS, PUERTO RICANS, RELIGION, SEX, SIN, SPANISH 
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Facts:
  • Carlin's take on being an Irish Catholic boy in New York in the '40s. (Stavro Arrgolus)
  • Song Lyrics:
    Part of "class clown" was being an imitator as you've probably noticed but I used to imitate the priests...which was right on the verge of blasphemy, y'know. I could do them all rather well. I did Father Byrne the best. Father Byrne was the, uh, one who used to celebrate the children's Mass. I always thought that was great - 'celebrate Mass' "Yeaaah! Yeah, man!" Father Byrne did the children's Mass; did the sermon every week. He used to do parables about "Dusty and Buddy". Dusty was a Catholic...and Buddy.....was not. And Buddy was always trying to talk Dusty into having a hot dog on Friday. I could, uh, I could do Father Byrne so well that I often wanted to do him in confession, y'know. I wanted to get into Father Byrne's confessional one Saturday maybe a half hour before he showed up and get in there and hear a few confessions, y'know. Because I knew according to my faith and religion that if anyone came in there and really thought I was Father Byrne and really wanted to be forgiven...and perform the penance I had assigned...they would have been forgiven, man!

    'Cause that's what they taught us; it's what's in your mind that counts; your intentions, that's how we'll judge you. What you want to do. Mortal sin had to be a grievous offense, sufficient reflection and full consent of the will. Ya had'ta WANNA! In fact, WANNA was a sin all by itself. "Thou Shalt Not WANNA". If you woke up in the morning and said, "I'm going down to 42nd street and commit a mortal sin!" Save your car fare; you did it, man! Absolutely!
    It was a sin for you to wanna feel up Ellen. It was a sin for you to plan to feel up Ellen. It was a sin for you to figure out a place to feel up Ellen. It was a sin to take Ellen to the place to feel her up. It was a sin to try to feel her up and it was a sin to feel her up. There were six sins in one feel, man!

    But confession had another..there was another aspect of confession for me. Our neighborhood was right between Columbia University and Harlem. Juilliard School of Music, Grant's Tomb. Uh, two seminaries- Jewish Theological and Union Theological Seminary. I said Harlem was there and then to the north...a Puerto Rican and Cuban section and as Puerto Ricans began to move into our neighborhood, the diocese, in this rare display of tokenism in the early Fifties sent one Spanish priest...Father Rivera...to hear Spanish confessions. And all the Irish guys that were heavily into puberty... would go to confession to Father Rivera. 'Cause he didn't seem to understand the sins, y'know...or at least he didn't take them personally, you know. It wasn't an affront to him. There was no big theological harangue; he didn't chew you out. He was known as a "light penance". In and out, three "Hail, Mary's", you're back on the street with Father Rivera, man. You could see the line move; that's how fast he was working. But he wasn't ready for the way Irish boys were confessing at that time and that place...

    ('3rd generation' Irish accent) "Uh, bless me, Father, for I have sinned...Uh, I touched myself in an impure manner. I was impure, impurity and impureness. Thought, word indeed. Body, touch, impure, sex, dirty. Impure legs, impureness. Touch, impure dirty body, sex, rub and covet; heavy on the covet, Father, uh.." (Rivera:) "That's OK, man! Tres Ave Marias!"...You'd be home in five minutes, you know?

    The Irish priest, on the other hand, nice guy, but, uh, first of all, he recognized your voice 'cause you'd grown up there, right? He knew everyone- "What'd you do that for, George?" "Oh, God, he knows, man!" And the Irish priests were always heavily into penance and punishment, y'know? They'd give you a couple of novenas to do, nine first Fridays, five first Saturdays, Stations of the Cross...a trip to Lourdes, wow! That was one of the things that bothered me a little about my religion was that conflict between pain and pleasure.. 'cause they were always pushin' for pain and you were always pullin' for pleasure, man.
    (Stavro Arrgolus)
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