You are so Beautiful – Joe Cocker

I love the song “You are so Beautiful” by Joe Cocker.  It is so simple and yet it resonates so powerfully with the gratitude that I feel about Christ and what he has done for me through the Gospel.  The song was originally penned by Billy Preston in 1972 as a pseudo romantic/worship song .  However, the arrangement of the original was unbearably ridiculous (click here to see what I mean).  In 1974, the song was truly written when Joe Cocker captured the essence of “You are so Beautiful” and re-released a slowed down, intensely soulful version.  The song skyrocketed to number 5 on the Billboard Top 100 and the rest is history.  Yet, no matter what the human artists intended, in my eyes, You are so Beautiful is indeed a worship song.  In fact, I feel that the wild popularity of “You are so Beautiful” has everything to do with its powerful, intense, worship-filled lyrics.

Think about it.  The song shouldn’t work.  The structure is not complex at all.  The musical score requires nothing more than a single piano or guitar.  Joe Cocker’s voice is like a bowl of gravel poured out on pavement.  And his appearance holds nothing that pleases the eye.  Yet, when Joe sings it, the song eerily moves below the surface.  “You are so Beautiful.” Somehow, that lyric gets under my skin and embeds itself in my soul, inviting me to contemplate the Beauty of Christ. And when I am drawn to dwell upon Christ’s beauty, I don’t need much else.  That seems to be enough in itself.  Christ’s beauty transcends my circumstances.  Even my sorrows become joy.  “You are so Beautiful to me,” it says. It’s personal.  I did not always see Christ’s beauty.  In fact, there was a time I found him repellent, like so many others.  Yet the Father saw fitting to bring heaven’s gift to me.  He opened my eyes so that now I can see what others cannot.  I can see the beauty of Christ.  And when I see this beauty, my soul is satisfied and I am filled with joy.

Consider the words of Jonathan Edwards who expresses my thought with better clarity:  “the sight of all Christ’s perfections united together fills us with sweet surprise and humble confidence, with reverential love and delightful adoration (J.E., Works, Vol. 1).”  Charles Spurgeon eloquently builds on this idea:

“As for us, my brethren, the Beauty of Christ is such that if we go
into a barn to worship, we are quite as satisfied as though it were
a cathedral, with grained arches and glowing windows.

Such is the Beauty of Christ in our eyes, that we are quite
content to hear of him without the pealing organ and the swell of
Gregorian chants; and we are even satisfied though there should
be no display of taste, nothing sensuous and scenic, nothing to
please the eye or charm the ear.

Jesus alone gives our mind all that delightful architecture,
poetry, and music could profess to give.”

.– Charles Spurgeon, “The Rose and the Lily”

“You are so Beautiful.” So often we Christians feel that in order to worship Christ, all the setting must be perfect.  The variables must all line up.  The music must not be off key.  The organ must not be too loud.  The worship leader must be attractive, but not distracting.  Our neighbors must be in a perfect condition, not too noisy or smelly or strangely dressed.  We must have stained glass or a worship band or whatever else.  Yet, in truth, we must only see Jesus.  He is so Beautiful!  So Beautiful.  And when we see Him, when we behold his glory, we will worship.  For as Spurgeon says, when we see Jesus, everything else becomes beautiful.  Even a barn will seem like a cathedral.  Even our sufferings become joy.

The particular video below is from a Joe Cocker concert in Germany in the 1990s.  I especially like this version of You are so Beautiful because it showcases Billy Preston’s original second verse which gives even greater weight to the worshipful nature of the song.  It also features the acoustic guitar as primary accompaniment instead of the piano, which seems to give the song an even better ‘simple factor‘.  Enjoy!


You are so beautiful to me
You are so beautiful to me
Can’t you see
Your everything I hoped for
Your everything I need
You are so beautiful to me

Such joy and happiness you bring
Such joy and happiness you bring
Like a dream
A guiding light that shines in the night
Heaven’s gift to me
You are so beautiful to me

5 thoughts on “You are so Beautiful – Joe Cocker

  1. Timmy,

    Simple song…but so true!!! I love it!!! Again, you have such a way with words yourself Mr. Melton!!! Love your blogs, I look for them everytime I check my email!!

    I love you,


  2. Pingback: Joe Cocker und seine Beschäftigung mit Gospel | Baden gospelt

  3. Sad to say I just stumbled across this . I’ve been searching for the original lyrics and hoped there was a Joe Cocker performance somewhere. This is truly one of the most beautiful and meaningful songs in the world. I wish the first Cocker recording (the most known) included these beautiful lyrics, but it is my understanding the producers did not want it to sound “too gospel” or some such drivel. I believe if it were recorded without edits it would have been a bigger hit than it was and in addition, and more important, would have given the glory to God as it should be. Thanks for helping me find this and bless you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s