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Monday, January 16, 2017

The "We Shall Overcome" Civil Rights Song & Its Linked Arms/ Hands Held Stance

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides commentary about and examples of the civil rights song "We Shall Overcome". Particular attention is given to the tradition of singing "We Shall Overcome" while linking arms, holding hands with the person on either side, and swaying back and forth.

The Addendum to this post showcases a video that provides some historical information about the song "We Shall Overcome" and some relatively recent information about the effort to make that song part of the public domain.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, inspirational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who composed "We Shall Overcome" and thanks to those who popularized that song. Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and all those who are featured in the videos that are included in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these examples on YouTube>
-snip-
I was inspired to revisit this topic because the icon for Google Search January 16, 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a drawing of a diverse group of people linking arms and holding hands (and, presumably singing "We Shall Overcome"). Thanks to Google Search for honoring this tradition.

For more lyrics and video examples of civil rights songs, visit my Civil Rights Song blog http://civilrightssongs.blogspot.com/

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EDITORIAL COMMENT ABOUT THE LINKED ARMS/HANDS HELD STANCE & THE CIVIL RIGHTS SONG "WE SHALL OVERCOME"
[The first part of this comment was previously published in this pancocojams post: http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2015/11/we-shall-overcome-information-lyrics.html]

In 2013 I published a pancocojams post on the Gospel song "I'll Overcome Someday" and the Civil Rights song "We Shall Overcome" Click "http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-gospel-song-i-will-overcome-someday.html.

Unlike that previous post, most of the videos in this post feature examples of "We Shall Overcome" in which the singers either lock arms and sway from side to side while singing this song, or hold hands and stand still or sway from side to side while singing this song. This has become the signature way that "We Shall Overcome" is sung. To my knowledge, no other protest song or civil rights song has this or any other signature movement style.

It's possible that the locked arm style of singing "We Shall Overcome" came from the verse "We'll walk hand in hand". Or that locked arm style may be a way of expressing the unity that the people feel when they are singing this song. Locking arms also shows the resolve of the protesters. Such a stance would also have made it more difficult for the police to arrest individuals, although the police would have eventually succeeded in separating people from those they had locked arms with.

I'm interested in reading your views about why (and when) this custom started and continues of singing "We Shall Overcome" this way.
-snip-
Unfortunately, I haven't received any feedback yet about this linked arm/hand held/body swaying from side to side tradition. But it occurs to me that the children's chant "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" [I just got back to the USA]* is an example of people linking arms together and chanting- if not singing. That chant is associated with "military brats", but was (and probably still is) chanted by people with no military parents. The chanters lock arms together and walk down the sidewalk, forcing people coming towards them to move out of their way. Like the locked arms of the civil rights protesters who sung "We Shall Overcome", the locked arms of the "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" chanters made it less likely that their group would be broken apart.

*Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/03/hey-hey-get-out-of-my-way-examples.html for a pancocojams post on "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way"
-snip-
Are there other songs that are sung while linking arms and holding the hands of people on either side (with or without swaying back and forth to the music?)

In searching for examples of other songs in which singers use this stance, I came across this article
http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics/celtics_insider/2016/10/celtics_players_cross_arms_hold_hands_during_national_anthem Celtics players cross arms, hold hands during national anthem, Steve Bulpett Tuesday, October 04, 2016
"AMHERST — The Celtics’ players and coaches crossed their arms and held hands with those on either side during the singing of the national anthem prior to Tuesday night’s preseason opener against Philadelphia.

The team action was part of the growing response by athletes to shed light on social inequities that have divided many in the country. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick spurred the displays when he refused to stand for the anthem.

The move by the Celts as they stood from one side of the court to the other across the free throw line was designed to make a statement.

“That we need change in this world,” said Celt forward Jae Crowder. “We need to do it together. Just not one individual; it’s got to be a team type deal, a unity, a togetherness. Whatever we decide our message to be, it has to be about being together as one and coming together as one.”...

“What do we want to portray?” he [Crowder] said. “What do we want our message to be? That’s what we had talked about, and how can we go about doing it in a positive way? That’s all we talked about.

“We just want to make sure everybody’s on the same page and everybody [can] speak on their belief. We don’t want anybody to feel like they’re doing something they don’t want to do or talk about something they don’t want to talk about. So we just wanted to make sure everybody’s on the same page in those conversations that we had.”

Stevens certainly appreciated the approach.

“I think one of the great things about being a part of a team is you all come from different backgrounds and you learn about each other and you all come together for the common cause,” said the coach. “And that’s why we all love sports, right? We can all rally around that common cause and we can rally around teams. But I think when you really get into deep, impactful stuff, those are special conversations and sometimes those are uncomfortable and sometimes there can be tension around those, but I think that’s the beautiful part about our group, is that they all appreciate one another, really support one another. I think they’re very much into what the teams that I’ve seen thus far, in talking about togetherness and continued progress.”
-snip-
A photograph of the Celtic basketball players standing with linked arms/hand held stance is included with this article. But, unfortunately, can't find any video.)

I added italics to highlight that the linked arms/hand held stance appears to be associated with unity and togetherness. However, I think that that stance also represents protest and I think it's significant that that stance was used while singing a song other than "We Shall Overcome".

If you know of other contemporary examples of this linked arms/hands held stance being used while singing "We Shall Overcome", "The [USA] National Anthem" or other songs, please share them in the comment section below. Thanks!

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SHOWCASE EXAMPLES OF THE LINKED ARMS/HAND HELD STANCE WHILE SINGING "WE SHALL OVERCOME"
Example #1: Obama at Ebenezer - We Shall Overcome



Stand with Obama Uploaded on Jan 20, 2008

This is the conclusion of Obama's speech at the church on Martin Luther King on King's Birthday in 2008, when the congregation sings "We Shall Overcome."

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Example #2: We Shall Overcome: A SONG THAT CHANGED THE WORLD


HMH Books Uploaded on Dec 11, 2009
"We Shall Overcome" isn't a complicated piece of music. The first verse has only twenty-two words, most of them repeated. The melody is straightforward. The chords are basic. Yet the song has had a profound effect on people throughout the United States--and the world.

In clear, accessible language Stuart Stotts explores the roots of the tune and the lyrics in traditional African music and Christian hymns. He demonstrates the key role "We Shall Overcome" played in the civil rights, labor, and anti-war movements in America. And he traces the song's transformation into an international anthem. With its dramatic stories and memorable quotes, this saga of a famous piece of music offers a unique way of looking at social history.

Author's note, bibliography, source notes, index.

We Shall Overcome
A SONG THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
Stuart Stotts; Terrance Cummings...
Publication Date: 01/18/2010...

Age Range: 8-12 years
-snip-
At .57 in this video there is a photograph of diverse group of protestors with the crossed arm stance
The narrator says "“In 1960 “We Shall Overcome” spread like a tidal wave throughout the United States as the anthem for the civil rights movement.”

**
At 1:22 in this video there is a photograph of President Obama, Congressmen John Lewis, and others having their arms linked and holding hands while singing ["We Shall Overcome" ?]

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Example #3: Congressional Leaders Sing 'We Shall Overcome'



yazakchattiest Published on Jun 25, 2014
Media Research Center
http://www.mrc.org/
CNS News
http://www.cnsnew
-snip-
According to another video, this event commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

Fast forward two more years, on June 22, 2016 members of the United States Democratic Congressional delegation held a sit in on the House floor and sung "We Shall Overcome". The video isn't clear and I can't tell if they linked arms while singing that song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujER5HQ1s9o

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Example #4: 'We Shall Overcome' rings out at Charleston vigil

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8Y1dFzI0no

embedding not permitted

AFP news agency ,Published on Jun 20, 2015

The solemn verses of "We Shall Overcome" rings out in a college basketball arena at a vigil for the nine victims of a massacre at a historic African-American church.
-snip-
This is an integrated group of people. Everyone locks arms with the people next to them and sways from side to side while singing "We Shall Overcome".

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ADDENDUM:
I added this video for the history that it shares.
'We Shall Overcome' At The Center Of A Public Domain Dispute – Newsy



Newsy Published on Apr 14, 2016

The Library of Congress calls "We Shall Overcome" "the most powerful song of the 20th century," and now one group is claiming that the song should be owned by everyone.

Transcript:
"Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome someday," Joan Baez sings.
The Library of Congress calls "We Shall Overcome" "the most powerful song of the 20th century," and now one group is claiming that the song should be owned by everyone.

The We Shall Overcome Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the copyright of the song that's in the title of the organization, saying the song is "dedicated to public use and in the public domain."

Ludlow Music Inc., an imprint of The Richmond Organization, claims to have registered that copyright in 1960. But the lawsuit asserts it was never really Ludlow Music's to begin with.

"We Shall Overcome" contains lyrics similar to an African-American spiritual. One of the first printed versions of the song appeared in the United Mine Workers Journal in 1909.

That was later corroborated by folk singer Pete Seeger.
"It said we started every meeting with a prayer and singing that good ol' song, 'We Will Overcome,'" Seeger said in an interview with Pacifica Radio.

Seeger had also published the song in a newsletter intended to "create, promote and distribute songs of labor and the American people."

Some are comparing this lawsuit to another one centered on another popular song. Interestingly enough, the lawyers who worked to get "Happy Birthday" in the public domain are doing the same with "We Shall Overcome."
Along with the song being placed in the public domain, the "We Shall Overcome" lawsuit asks for Ludlow Music to return licensing fees it has collected from the song — which could be in the millions."..

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The Chambers Brothers- Wade In The Water" & Tony! Toni! Toné! - "Hey Little Walter"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases The Chambers Brothers' R&B song "Wade In The Water" that is inspired by the the African American Spiritual with that name.

This post also showcases Tony! Toni! Toné!'s song "Hey Little Walter" which was inspired by that Chambers Brothers song.

Information about these songs and lyrics for the Tony! Toni! Toné!Tone! song are also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to The Chambers Brothers and thanks to Tony! Toni! Toné! for their musical legacies. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of these two YouTube videos.

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PART #1: "WADE IN THE WATER"
INFORMATION ABOUT THE CHAMBERS BROTHERS
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chambers_Brothers
The Chambers Brothers are an American soul band... The group was part of the wave of new music that integrated American blues and gospel traditions with modern psychedelic and rock elements. Their music has been kept alive through heavy use in film soundtracks.

Originally from Carthage, Mississippi,[1] the Chambers Brothers first honed their skills as members of the choir in their Baptist church. This set up ended in 1952 when the eldest brother George was drafted into the Army. George relocated to Los Angeles after his discharge, and his brothers soon settled there as well. As a foursome, they began performing gospel and folk throughout the Southern California region in 1954, but they more or less remained unknown until appearing in New York City in 1965.[2]

Consisting of George (b. September 26, 1931) on washtub bass (later on Danelectro bass guitar), Lester (b. April 13, 1940) on harmonica, and Willie (b. March 3, 1938) and Joe (b. August 22, 1942) on guitar, the group started to venture outside the gospel circuit, playing at coffeehouses that booked folk acts... With the addition of Brian Keenan (January 28, 1943 – October 5, 1985) on drums, Dane took them on tour with her and introduced them to Pete Seeger, who helped put the Chambers Brothers on the bill of the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. One of the songs they performed, "I Got It", appeared on the Newport Folk Festival 1965 compilation LP, which was issued on the Vanguard label.[3]

They were becoming more accepted in the folk community, but, like many on the folk circuit, were looking to electrify their music and develop a more rock and roll sound...Shortly after appearing at Newport, the group released its debut album, People Get Ready...

The band scored its only major hit in the fall of 1968 with "Time Has Come Today", an 11-minute opus written by Joe and Willie Chambers and highlighted by echoing vocal effects and Keenan's drumming which gave the song a psychedelic feel. "Time Has Come Today" was edited for release as a single and spent five consecutive weeks in September/October at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, just missing the Top Ten."...

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SHOWCASE SOUND FILE: wade in the water [1968[



guillaimz, Uploaded on Jun 8, 2009

Chambers Brothers play "Wade in the Water" live in 1968 from the double-LP "Love, Peace, and Happiness"
-snip-
Click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Q6h1OCAuxg&t=309s for a 29 minute 1969 live performance video of The Chambers Brothers'"Wade In The Water"

Also, click https://genius.com/Jchambers-wade-in-the-water-lyrics for the complete lyrics to this song.

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PART #2:- "HEY LITTLE WALTER"
INFORMATION
From http://www.allmusic.com/song/little-walter-mt0003837916
"Song Review by Ed Hogan
Tony! Toni! Toné! members Dwayne Wiggins, Raphael Wiggins, and their cousin Timothy Christian were listening to the Chamber Brothers' take on "Wade in the Water" when they got the idea for "Little Walter." Raphael jokingly came up with a revision of a title singing "hey Little Walter." Producer Thomas McElroy heard the riff and began thinking how to build a song around it. The music video for the song featured Sinbad as the title character who was covertly a drug dealer. Produced by Foster & McElroy and co-written with Tony! Toni! Toné!, " Little Walter" went to number one on the R&B charts and number 87 pop in the summer of 1988. "Little Walter" began a chart run for the group that included three gold singles, four number one R&B singles, three Top Ten pop hits, one gold album -- Who -- two platinum albums -- The Revival and House of Music -- and one double-platinum album, Sons of Soul."

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SHOWCASE VIDEO: Tony Toni Tone "Little Walter" - Archive INA



Ina Talk Shows Published on May 6, 2014

Videoclip Tony Toni Tone "Little Walter" Images d'archive INA
Institut National de l'Audiovisuel


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LYRICS: HEY LITTLE WALTER
(written by Foster & McElroy & Tony! Toni! Toné!)

Hey little Walter
Hey little Walter
Walter listen
Hey little Wal


ter
Something's gonna getcha little Walter

Got myself a roommate, and Walter was his name
He liked to play strange games
He had a certain hobby, he always liked to do
He thought it was so cool
He started making money, but couldn't pay the rent
It didn't make too much sense
So I tried to ask him nicely, when he planned to pay
He said, "I doubt it'll be today"

Hey little Walter
Hey little Walter
Walter listen
Hey little Walter
Something's gonna getcha little Walter

Started coming up with clothes I could not buy
And some I could not fine
Taking girls to dinner, two at a time
I didn't pay no mind
When I saw him driving a brand new fancy car
I knew he'd gone too far
So when I tried again to ask him to pay today
Walter said, "Today? No Way"

Hey little Walter
Hey little Walter
Walter listen
Hey little Walter
Something's gonna getcha little Walter

Things were getting serious, I had to set him straight
My landlord could not wait
I sat him down and told him, he played me for a fool
'Cause I knew the things you do
Things start getting nasty, we broke into fight
I thought it would be short, but it lasted half the night
By the time we were finished, there was a knock at the door
When Walter went to open it, he was blown to the floor

Hey little Walter
Hey little Walter
Walter listen
Hey little Walter
Something's gonna getcha little Walter

Hey little Walter
Hey little Walter
Walter listen
Hey little Walter
Something's gonna getcha little Walter

Hey little Walter
Hey little Walter
Walter listen
Hey little Walter
Something's gonna getcha little Walter

Source: https://genius.com/Tony-toni-tone-little-walter-lyrics

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Mt. Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church Praise Team (Bahama)- Celebration Medley (with lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases a Soca music infused praise and worship medley by the Mt. Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church Praise Team (Nassau, Bahamas).

My attempt at transcribing the songs in this medley is also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for religious, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the composers of these songs, the arranger of this medley, Lead singer Nadene Moss and the Mt. Tabor Praise Team. Thanks also to thanks to the publisher of this YouTube video.
-snip-
This post is dedicated to United States President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and their families.

Thank you.

In the midst of these difficult times and the difficulties that are likely to come, I celebrate your accomplishments and your positive role models.

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SHOWCASE EXAMPLE: Celebration Medley (Bishop Neil C. Ellis & The Mt. Tabor Praise Team)



butterfacekiss Uploaded on Jan 21, 2011

Live Recording September 2008, at the Mt. Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church in Nassau, Bahamas. Powerful song of praise and celebration flavored with a touch of Bahamian sound. Perfect for a praise & worship team, group or choir for congregational worship. It is one of the most loved congregational song Mt. Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church
-snip-
Bishop Neil C. Ellis introduced the Praise Team with these words:
"We are a people who will have celebration
In the midst of preparation
on our way to earn a best station".

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LYRICS: CELEBRATION MEDLEY
(as sung by the Mt. Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church Praise Team, 2008)

[Note: This is my attempt at transcribing this praise and worship medley. I believe that this medley is made up of at least four songs, lines of which might be repeated after each other. I've included the approximate times of the beginning of the second, third, and fourth song in brackets after what I think is those song's first lines in this medley and made a space between one song and the next even though those songs flow together without any breaks.

Additions and corrections are welcome.]

Praise Team - Oooh-ah- oh
Everybody celebrate
Lead -Come on, everybody celebrate
Praise Team -Oooh-ah- oh
Everybody celebrate
Lead- Wave your hands and celebrate
Praise Team - Oooh-ah- oh
Wave of glory celebrate
Lead - Say yeah
Praise Team - Oooh-ah- oh
Everybody celebrate
Lead -Let’s celebrate
Say ooh-oh
Praise Team - Oooh-ah-oh
It’s a wave of glory celebrate
Lead: It’s a wave of glory!
Come on, kingdom minded people, celebrate
Praise Team - kingdom minded people
????
Lead - Come on kingdom minded people
it’s time to celebrate
Celebrate!
Praise Team -Oooh-ah- oh
Everybody celebrate
Lead: It’s time to celebrate
It’s time to celebrate
Praise Team -Oooh-ah- oh
Everybody celebrate
Lead: Celebrate! Celebrate!
Praise Team - Ooh ah -oh
Wave of glory, celebrate!
Celebrate! Celebrate!

Lead: Let me hear you shout! [1:41]
I can’t hear you.
Let us celebrate in this place.
Whoo!
Here we go, Praise Team.
Come on!
Praise Team: Let us celebrate
The Lord
Lead - Yeah, I feel like celebrating.
Oh, yeah. I feel like celebrating
Praise Team: I feel like celebrating
The Lord
Lead- Oh-oh
Lead: See what the Lord has done for us [1:41]
See what ah mighty God He is.
Lead: See what the Lord has done for us
See what ah mighty -
Everybody, everybody say
Praise Team - See what the Lord has done for us
See what ah mighty God He is.
Lead- Take a look and see
Praise Team - See what the Lord has done for us
See what ah mighty God He is.
Lead- Oh now.
Praise Team - See what the Lord has done for us
Lead -Everybody look and see.
Praise Team – See what ah mighty God He is.
Lead- Do you see
Praise Team – See what ah mighty God He is.
Lead -What do yah see?
Praise Team – The walls came tumbling
Lead- What do yah see
Praise Team – The walls came tumbling
Lead- What do you see
Praise Team – The walls came tumbling down
so the we can go in
Lead – I believe!
Praise Team – The walls came tumbling
Lead- What do yah see
Praise Team – The walls came tumbling
Lead- Let’s receive it
Praise Team – The walls came tumbling down
so that we can go in
Lead -Come on!
Praise Team – Let us celebrate
The Lord
Lead- Come on, come on, come on
Come on, come on
Let us celebrate
Praise Team -Let us celebrate
The Lord
Lead- Come on!

We are dancing the shackles free [around 3:13 ]
Dancing the shackles free.
Praising the Lord
In one accord
dancing the shackles-
Everybody free at last!
Praise Team -Dancing the shackles free
Lead: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah
Praise Team- Dancing the shackles free
Lead- Oh praising
Praise Team- Praising the Lord
Lead- Come on and lift your hands
Lead- Whoo!
Praise Team- In one accord
Lead- Come on everybody
Praise Team: Dancing the shackles free
Lead- Weeell, I am free now
Praise Team – I am free
Lead- Oh, Lord I’m so free
Praise Team- I am free
Lead- Well I am free
Praise Team – I am free
Lead- No more chains holding me
Praise Team- I am free
Lead- Let us celebrate!
Praise Team- Let us celebrate
Lead- Come on, come on, come on, come on
Come on, come on
Praise Team - Lead us celebrate The Lord
Lead- Come on
I feel like
Running
Jumping
Praise the Lord
For what He has done for me.
Oh, Lord.
He set my spirit free!
Praise Team – I feel like
Running
Leader - Skipping
Praise Team -Jumping
Lead- Heey!
Praise Team -Praise the Lord
Lead- For what He has done for me.
Praise Team – For what He has done for me.
Lead- He has set me
Praise Team – He has set my spirit free
Lead- Say it again
Praise Team – I feel like
Running
Lead- Jumping
Praise Team- Jumping
Lead- Oh now!
Praise Team – Praise The Lord
Lead- Hey!
Praise Team- For what He has done
Lead- Grab your neighbor by the hand
Praise Team -For me
Lead - Oh yeah, yeah, yeah
Praise Team- Let us celebrate the Lord
Lead- I feel like having a party
Praise Team- Let us celebrate
Lead- Oh let us
Praise Team- Let us celebrate the Lord

Lead – Oh oh, Glory glory Lord [5:14]
Oh, we give you glory Lord
Glory Lord
You’re ah mighty God
Somebody lift your voice and say
Praise Team- Glory, glory Lord
Lead- We give You glory
Praise Team- We give You glory Lord
Lead- Ooooh!
Praise Team- Glory, glory
You are ah mighty God
Lead- You are a mighty God
Praise Team- You are a mighty God
Lead- You are a mighty God
Praise Team- You are a mighty God
Lead- You are a mighty God
Praise Team- You are a mighty God
Lead- You are a mighty God
Praise Team- You are a mighty God

Lead- You are a mighty God
Praise Team- You are a mighty God
Lead- You are a mighty God
Praise Team- You are a mighty God
Lead- Say “mighty”
Praise Team- mighty
Lead- Say “mighty”
Praise Team- mighty
Lead- Say “mighty”
Praise Team- mighty
Lead- Say “mighty”
Praise Team- mighty
Lead- Say “mighty”, “mighty”, “mighty”, “mighty”, “mighty”
Praise Team- “Mighty”, “mighty”, “mighty”, “mighty”, “mighty”
Lead- He’s massive, massive, massive, massive, massive
Praise Team - Massive, massive, massive, massive, massive
Lead- He is “mighty”, “mighty”, “mighty”, “mighty”, “mighty”
Praise Team- “Mighty”, “mighty”, “mighty”, “mighty”, “mighty”
Lead- He’s massive, massive, massive, massive, massive
Praise Team - Massive, massive, massive, massive, massive
Lead -You are a mighty God
Praise Team- You are a mighty God
Lead -You are a mighty God
Praise Team- You are a mighty God
Lead -You are a mighty God
Praise Team- You are a mighty God

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Example Of the 1930s Blues Song "Mr. Tyree" (with partial lyrics & selected comments about song collector Lawrence Gellet

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases a sound file of "Mr. Tyree", a 1930s prison Blues recording featuring an African American singer and an African American guitarist. This song was included in the 1930s vinyl recording Negro Songs of Protest* by [White American song collector] Lawrence Gellert.

My partial transcription of "Mr. Tyree" is also included in this post.

The Addendum to this post includes a review of Bruce M. Confort's 2013 book about Lawrence Gellet and excerpts of comments that were published on Mudcat [folk music] discussion forum about Lawrence Gellet and the term "Negro protest" (as it pertains to the African American songs in Lawrence Gellet's collection.)

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the composer of this Blues song, the singer and guitarist who were recorded performing it, and the collector of this song. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of this YouTube sound file.
-snip-
Since at least the late 1960s, the referent "Negro" has been retired and largely replaced with the formal referent "African American" and/or the (often considered) less formal referent Black (as in Black American).

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SHOWCASE EXAMPLE: Unknown Singer/Guitarist - Mr. Tyree (1930s)



lupine22 Published on Aug 26, 2012

An unknown prisoner at Bellwood Prison Camp, Atlanta, Georgia, performing "Mr. Tyree," as recorded by Lawrence Gellert sometime in the mid-1930s.
-snip-
Here are two comments from this sound file's discussion thread:
mary cigarettes, 2012
"he's flipping good and swinging too....those photos are amazing."

**
xXPanzerStalkerXx, 2013
"This is most likely inmate Jesse Wadley. According to "Red River Blues" (book) Bellwood Prison Camp, where Lomax recorded Jesse Wadley, is probably now Federal Prison Farm No 1, in the southeast of the city."
-snip-
I think that "the city" refers to Atlanta, Georgia.
-snip-
From Google Books Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast By Bruce Bastin
Page 66
“Tyree was a little loved guard, to whom the convicts requests "Mr. Tyree, please let my pardon go/ if you let me out of Bellwood/I won’t return no mo’”. "
-snip-
This passage implies that the guitarist wasn't the same man who was singing this song.

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PARTIAL LYRICS: MR. TYREE
(1930s prison song, unknown composer/s)

....Mr. Tyree, please let my pardon go*
If you let me out of Bellwood, I won’t return no mo’.

Tyree Tyree, don’t work my woman so hard
Tyree Tyree, don’t work my woman so hard
Said she’s nothing but a piano player
Work like she never had a job.

Early this morning at the break of day
Take my.....
And carry it all away
Cause every time....

Tyree Tyree please don’t be so mean
Lawd, you the worse ole prison guard
Worse that I ever seen.

....

Mr Tyree, please let my pardon go*
And if you let me out of Bellwood
I won’t return no mo’

.....
Mr Tyree, please give let my pardon go*
And if you would let me out of here
I won’t return no mo’"....
-snip-
*This line is given as "please let my pardon go" in the Red River Blues book. However, I thought I heard "please give me my pardon to go".

I've not found any transcription of this Blues song online. Additions and corrections are very welcome.

**
For what it's worth, the male name "Tyree" is pronounced TIE (rhyming with the English words "lie" "my" etc) and ree (rhyming with the English word "me").

It seems to me that, since at least the 1970s, the name "Tyree" has largely been considered a "Black" (i.e. African American) name. However, note that the man with the name "Tyree" in this song is the prison guard, who in the 1930s South would likely to have been White.

Also, my sense is contemporaneously, that the name "Tyree" is usually pronounced with the accent on the second syllable (i.e. tie-REE).

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ADDENDUM: A BOOK REVIEW OF AND COMMENTARY ABOUT SONG COLLECTOR LAWRENCE GELLET
From https://books.google.com/books?id=B2mqs_FvabIC African American Folksong and American Cultural Politics: The Lawrence Gellert Story by Bruce M. Conforth, Scarecrow Press, May 16, 2013 - Music - 298 pages
"In African American Folksong and American Cultural Politics: The Lawrence Gellert Story, scholar and musician Bruce Conforth tells the story of one of the most unusual collections of African American folk music ever amassed—and the remarkable story of the man who produced it: Lawrence Gellert. Compiled between the World Wars, Gellert's recordings were immediately adopted by the American Left as the voice of the true American proletariat, with the songs—largely variants of traditional work songs or blues—dubbed by the Left as "songs of protest." As both the songs and Gellert’s standing itself turned into propaganda weapons of left-wing agitators, Gellert experienced a meteoric rise within the circles of left-wing organizations and the American Communist party. But such success proved ephemeral, with Gellert contributing to his own neglect by steadfastly refusing to release information about where and from whom he had collected his recordings. Later scholars, as a result, would skip over his closely held, largely inaccessible research, with some asserting Gellert’s work had been doctored for political purposes. And to a certain extent they were correct. Conforth reveals how Gellert at least "assisted" in the creation of some of his more political material. But hidden behind the few protest songs that Gellert allowed to become public was a vast body of legitimate African America folksongs—enough to rival the work of any of his contemporary collectors.

Had Gellert granted access to all his material, scholars would have quickly seen that it comprised an incredibly complete and diverse collection of all African American song genres: work songs, blues, chants, spirituals, as well as the largest body of African American folktales about Irish Americans (what were referred to as "One Time I'shman" tales). It also included vast swaths of African American oral literature collected by Gellert as part of the Federal Writers' Project.

In African American Folksong and American Cultural Politics, Conforth brings to light for the first time the entire body of work collected by Lawrence Gellert, establishing his place, and the place for the material he collected, within the pages of American folk song scholarship. In addition to shedding new light on the concept of "protest music" within African American folk music, Conforth discusses the unique relationship of the American Left to this music and how personal psychology and the demands of the American Communist party would come to ruin Gellert’s life.

African American Folksong and American Cultural Politics will appeal to students and scholars in the fields of American social and political history, African American studies, the history of American folk music, and ethnomusicology."

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From http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=122790
Subject: RE: Negro Songs of Protest: Lawrence Gellert
From: GUEST,Steven Garabedian
Date: 13 Oct 15 - 12:34 AM
... In his book (p.118), [Bruce] Conforth highlights as primary evidence a 1935 [Lawrence] Gellert article published in the leftwing journal "Music Vanguard." He employs this evidence to further assert his ongoing position that Gellert had no interest in politics and was simply willing to allow the left to use his material in order to build a name for himself. Conforth relates some of the details of the 12-page piece by Gellert and stresses that -- aside from the title "Negro Songs of Protest," which was applied by leftwing editors apart from Gellert's own hand -- Gellert himself, as author, never uses the word "protest" once in the published article text. But, I have and know this same article well, and the primary evidence reads otherwise. Gellert includes the word "protest" in his prose at least three times, quite directly. He also uses the words "revolt" and "insurrection," for instance, to refer to black vernacular song tradition in his time and before. I agree with Conforth that the title "Negro Songs of Protest" likely came from Mike Gold at "New Masses" starting in 1930. But, I disagree that Gellert wasn't a willing participant of genuine conviction in the movement culture of the Old Left. I submit that Gellert used the word "protest" in this article because, like his leftwing editors at "New Masses" and "Music Vanguard," he meant it and he cared.

I have never argued that all of Gellert's field archive is all protest, and I have never argued that only protest blues is the real blues or the only blues that matters. I have never defined "protest" as necessarily supporting only formal leftwing organizing campaigns, causes, or people, and I have never argued, as Conforth presents it in his book, that the blues in the Gellert collection are "anticapitalist." The songs I highlight show resentment toward exploitation under a racialized system of capitalism; that's what I argue in my writing. I never go so far as to say they are "anticapitalist."....

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Subject: RE: Negro Songs of Protest: Lawrence Gellert
From: GUEST,Bruce Conforth
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 11:24 AM

Since there has been some discussion, and Steve Garabedian's critique of my book (which I just recently learned about) I thought I should respond.

...I never stated that Gellert was never a sincere radical. The case I made, and the evidence is quite clear, was that Gellert did not start to collect songs for political reasons. He stated that many times. He was interested in the natural beauty and cultural aesthetics of the music. It wasn't until his brother Hugo and Mike Gold alerted him to the idea that this music could be used as a great propaganda tool that he then began to collect the material for that purpose, and, as his fame in left-wing circles grew he took advantage of that position...

Garabedian did not have the advantage of interviewing Gellert's brothers - Hugo or Otto. I did. They both were quite adamant that Larry was never much of a joiner, that he was never involved in leftist or union organizing, and that he was more prone to leave the scene when situations got tense than to stick around and fight. They had no reason to lie about this or to "protect" their brother. Hugo had already appeared as a "witness" in Warren Beatty's epic movie "Reds." They happily accepted the left-wing, even Communist associations of the family. But they were quite clear that Larry had no initial interest in politics (he wanted to be an actor) and never was involved in organizing or other left-wing activities except to show up when there was an organized protest. Even then he was quick to leave if the situation became too dicey. Gellert even admitted this himself in his own letters. He often said that he wasn't interested in politics and didn't want to be around when there was trouble. The people who knew him in the South - his first great love Alice Lightner, and others also recounted how apolitical Larry was until his brother Hugo and Mike Gold more or less cajoled him into collecting songs they could use for leftist propaganda. It is quite simple: Larry saw this as an opportunity to create an identity for himself and to stand out as a separate entity from his brothers. The more he did this the more he began to buy into his own creation until he created himself anew - as an expert in Negro songs of protest. Gellert was nothing if not a chameleon who could reinvent himself to adapt to any situation that would bring him some notoriety. This is not to take anything away from the totality of his collected material and its importance, merely to say that Gellert had very personal reasons for doing what he did and they really did not have much to do with an overt sense of political affiliation.

...I never said that even the songs Gellert did not fabricate did not employ a sense of identity, and perhaps even protest. But I do maintain, and not in a derogatory way, that Garabedian's work is revisionist apologetics for the failure of much 1960s blues scholarship to ignore the political element of the music and culture. This intention is understandable, but he swings the political pendulum too far to the left, especially since there is concrete proof that Gellert did fabricate his more political pieces.

And it still fascinates me that Garebedian, in his article or dissertation, never once cited the admonition of the great scholar Lawrence Levine that:
"There has been an unfortunate if understandable tendency in our political age to conceive of protest in almost exclusively political and institutional terms. This group consciousness and a firm sense of the self have been confused with political consciousness... To state that black song constituted a form of black protest and resistance does not mean that it led to, or even called for, any tangible or specific actions... but rather (was a way)Negroes... could assert their own individuality, aspirations, and sense of being."

But what is most important, and what Garabedian does not mention in his criticism,is one of the main points I try to make in my book: the VAST majority of songs Gellert collected had nothing to do with his kind of protest. They were traditional blues, spirituals, and folk songs, and it is this great mass of folk song and folk LORE (stories, proverbs, sayings, vernacular speech) that makes Gellert's collection so important - not the few protest songs, fabricated or not."....

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