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Any Major MLK

March 29th, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

On April 4 we will observe the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of Rev Martin Luther King Jr. There doubtless will be many tributes being paid and many opinions aired about the great man’s life and legacy. Here, I shall let the music do the talking by way of a mix of songs about MLK.

The two most obvious songs to include would be Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday and U2’s Pride (In The Name Of Love). You’ll know how to find them. There were too many good tacks I already had to exclude, because CD-R length. A few of them I include as bonus tracks.

The mix begins with a number of songs that mourn the assassination in Memphis, soon after the event. One song in that lot is of indeterminate date. The Norfleet Brothers, a gospel outfit, tell in two parts the story of Martin Luther King; part 2 features here. They note the 1958 assassination attempt by Izola Ware Curry in New York, but don’t refer to the murder by James Earl Ray. Either it was recorded before that awful day, or so soon after that it was not necessary to mention the glaring obvious, just as at a funeral you needn’t point out that the deceased has died.

In the song after, Shirley Wahls (like Minnie Riperton, another the Rotary Connection member) issues the reminder that the struggle must continue even after King’s death. The Impressions did likewise in 1968, to keep on pushing and moving on up. Curtis Mayfield would sing We’re A Winner on stage into the 1970s.

 

 

There aren’t an awful lot of songs about MLK that precede his death. Bob Dylan namechecked him, among many other celebs, in 1962’s I Shall Be Free, but another Dylan song features here. Jerry Moore’s The Ballad of Birmingham from 1967. Based on a poem by Dudley Randall, it recalls the 1963 bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The lyrics imagine a girl asking her mother whether she may take part in a freedom march. Citing the dangers, mother sends the girl to church — which is then firebombed by the Ku Klax Klan terrorists.

In a coda, in 2002 a couple of these terrorists were convicted thanks to the work of Doug Jones who in late 2017 defeated the racist scumbag, alleged sexual predator and thinly disguised instrument of the devil Roy Moore in a senatorial election.

Some songs don’t need to refer to King to be about him. The lyrics of Minnie Riperton’s The Edge Of A Dream read like a King speech. The tangential link to MLK is, of course, the concept of the “Dream”, of which the martyr had one. Indeed, many lyrics obliquely refer to him as “The Man With The Dream”, to the point of that being a bit of a cliché. On such song, a catchy number by Tom Jones, features here. One of the more unusual representations of MLK here is in his Young New Mexican Puppeteer, wherein the eponymous marionette handler carves images of such bringers of hope as Lincoln, Twain and King.

Incidentally, it was a singer, the gospel legend Mahalia Jackson, who urged King to deliver his “I Have A Dream” speech. Sitting near him on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, Jackson reportedly told King, “Tell them about the dream, Martin”. So he did…

 

 

On some songs, King has to share the star billing. Most famously, on Dion’s 1968 hit Abraham, John And Martin he does so with Lincoln and John F Kennedy. The version featured here is by Tom Clay, a radio DJ who cut together spoken bits and pieces of the Bacharach composition What The World Needs Now with very 1960s vocals about JFK, MLK and Bobby Kennedy, who was assassinated just a couple of months after King. For the record, King thought that John F Kennedy’s commitment to civil rights was only “token”, and Bobby authorised the FBI to tap King’s phone.

On Bob Dylan’s 1986 song They Killed Him, MLK’s assassination stands alongside the execution of Jesus Christ and the murder of the Mahatma Ghandi.

Elvis Presley wasn’t much of a political guy, but two months after the murder of King he recorded a song written and tribute of and quoting from MLK. If I Can Dream was written at the last moment for Elvis’ 1968 televised comeback special by Walter Earl Brown. On hearing it, Elvis reportedly exclaimed: “I’m never going to sing another song I don’t believe in. I’m never going to make another picture I don’t believe in.” His manager “Colonel” Parker wasn’t keen on Elvis doing that kind of song, but The King put all his soul into this tribute to King, apparently making his backing singers weep.

Remember when that nice guy John McCain opposed the institution if the Martin Luther King holiday? Six years after Stevie Wonder launched the MLK holiday campaign in song, the 1980s custom of bringing together a conglomeration of stars to raise money or highlight a cause found expression in a single by the cumbersomely-named King Dream Chorus and Holiday Crew. There were some impressive artists behind those names. The King Dream Chorus included Whitney Houston, J.T. Taylor, El DeBarge, Stacy Lattisaw, Lisa Lisa with Full Force, Stephanie Mills and teen bands Menudo and New Edition. The Holiday Crew was rappers Run–D.M.C., Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Whodini and The Fat Boys. As so often, the sum of all the great talent is much less than its parts. That’s why it is a bonus track.

That nice guy McCain came around to The Fat Boys’ point of view in 1990. A year later Public Enemy turned their anger towards McCain’s home state Arizona, which along with New Hampshire refused to recognise the national Martin Luther King holiday. In the video Public Enemy showed the governor of Arizona being blown up in a car bomb. Presumably they referred to racist fuck Evan Mecham, a car salesman who was the first Arizona governor to be impeached, rather than his successor, Rose Perica Mofford, who seems to have been a decent person. A plebiscite in Arizona in 1991 confirmed Mecham’s refusal to recognise the MLK holiday.

Funeral procession of Martin Luther King in Atlanta, Georgia, on 9 April 1968.

 

Ben Harper’s track from 1994 draws a parallel between two Kings: Martin and Rodney. The assault on Rodney King by LA Police — which now, in an age where police killing black people has become so frequent, seems almost minor — was a betrayal of the promise of progress after the civil rights movement. Like the next track, it features here as a bonus track.

Brad Paisley sang his 2008 song Welcome To The Future in the White House for Barack Obama. The US had just elected its first black president and, as Steve Colbert (as his idiot right-wing alter ego) used to remind us: Racism has been solved. So our country-singing friend was just as naively optimistic as many people a decade ago when he observed: “I had a friend in school, running-back on a football team. They burned a cross in his front yard for asking out the home-coming queen. I thought about him today, everybody who’s seen what he’s seen – From a woman on a bus to a man with a dream. Hey, wake up Martin Luther, welcome to the future. Hey, Glory glory hallelujah, welcome to the future.”

Alas, in 2018, there is Trump and the racist establishment that supports him, both actively and by neglect. Fifty years after he was murdered, Rev Martin Luther King Jr would still look from the mountain top at the Promised Land, and say: “One day…”.

As always, CD-R length, home-dreamed covers, PW in comments.

1. Big Maybelle – Heaven Will Welcome You, Dr. King (1968)
2. James Chapmen – In Memory Of Martin Luther King (1969)
3. The Norfleet Brothers – The Story of Martin Luther King (Part II) (c.1968)
4. Nina Simone – Why (The King Of Love Is Dead) (1968)
5. Shirley Wahls – We’ve Got To Keep On Movin’ On (1969)
6. The Impressions – We’re A Winner (1968)
7. Billy Paul – Let ’Em In (1976)
8. Leroy Hutson – Time Brings On A Change (1973)
9. Minnie Riperton – The Edge Of A Dream (1976)
10. Elvis Presley – If I Can Dream (1968)
11. Billy Bragg – Days Like These (1985)
12. UB40 – King (1980)
13. Public Enemy – By The Time I Get To Arizona (1991)
14. Bobby Womack – American Dream (1984)
15. Mavis Staples – MLK Song (2016)
16. Lyle Lovett – Good-Bye To Carolina (1994)
17. Bob Dylan – They Killed Him (1986)
18. Patty Griffin – Up To The Mountain (2007)
19. Tom Jones – The Young New Mexican Puppeteer (1972)
20. Tom Clay – What The World Needs Now-Abraham, Martin & John (1971)
21. U2 – MLK (1984)
Bonus Tracks: Ben Harper – Like A King (1993)
King Dream Chorus & Holiday Crew – King Holiday (1986)
Black Oak Arkansas – You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down (1976)
Brad Paisley – Welcome To The Future (2009)
James Taylor – Shed A Little Light (1991)

GET IT: https://rg.to/file/64e4ebb278116eb69a07755ded9b2f35/MLK.rar.html

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  1. halfhearteddude
    March 29th, 2018 at 10:30 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Hermann
    March 29th, 2018 at 22:29 | #2

    Thanks.
    another one as dance version:
    https://mega.nz/#!mEdSXBaC!Njv-HhgBkoqXyi9yZsjJow9fCUvtwD7FoOwyvQhYzv8
    Hermann

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