Hall’s rendition of “Another man done gone” is so haunting in describing the casualness in the killing of black men for minor (if any) infractions. New Orleans Soul Queen Irma Thomas recorded a version/remake of it on her 2006 Grammy-winning album, “After The Storm” chronicling the trauma and wretchedness of the Hurricane Katrina disaster aftermath. I’ve posted the original and the remake below. Folk singer Odetta and folk band Our Griffin also recorded versions, as well as Johnny Cash and many other musicians over the years.
Please pass this post along if it so moves you and let us all contribute to our collective healing of the trauma of the horrific violence of the past and present in our country and world. Let us love each other and have reverence for human life. #BLACKLIVESMATTER
Every generation talks about the dearth of genuine, good music being made by “real musicians” as compared to days gone by. However, I find that premise a fallacy. When I was a kid, I just had to dig a little deeper to hear some great music being made (usually being played way left of the dial on college radio), and I escaped the vapid pop of the day. Today is no different. I present to you some talented, soulful, creative, real-deal musicians making real-deal music. Hailing from Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Alabama respectively, Sturgill Simpson, John Fullbright, and Jason Isbell are some of the most lauded roots musicians making music today.
Sturgill Simpson has been gaining a lot of popularly lately with his old-school country sounds and soulful vocals. He recently played an NPR Tiny Desk concert and was nominated for a Grammy Awards for best Americana album for his Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. His sound harkens back to the likes of Waylon Jennings while still sounding new and original. (I found out that I am not the only one that makes that comparison). Here he is with “Life of Sin”:
John Fullbright was born and raised on a 80-acre farm in Oklahoma. His debut album, From the Ground Up, was an homage to the farm house he grew up in and it was nominated for a Grammy in 2013. He was a critical success. And his latest album, Songs has also been well-received. Here is “Gawd Above” from the first album:
Jason Isbell, a former band member of southern rock band Drive-By Truckers, made one of the most acclaimed albums of 2013. After several solo albums, Jason Isbell hit big with his fourth solo album, Southeastern. This song really choked me up. Here is “Traveling alone”:
One of the most inspiring yet haunting voices I’ve ever heard is that of the legendary Mahalia Jackson. There are a few others that are in that pantheon with her in my mind including Celia Cruz, Ella Fitzgerald, and Aretha Franklin. But there is something so powerful and other wordly in Mahalia’s sound. I cannot put words to it, perhaps it is the hand of God. I can’t recall when I first heard her voice, I believe it was my junior high best friend’s vinyl record of hers. Yes we were unusual 80s pre-teens listening to old blues and gospel in our California rooms. It was surreal and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck as a bit of fear pulsed through me as I heard a direct line to the Divine.
It seems appropriate that Mahalia was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, the birthplace of some of the best American music that has ever existed. She came from a challenging upbringing like so many blues singers that were her contemporaries. She found her solace and hope in the church and singing the songs of the Lord. According to Wikipedia:
“Mahalia Jackson… became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and was heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist… She recorded about 30 albums (mostly for Columbia Records) during her career…’I sing God’s music because it makes me feel free,’ Jackson once said about her choice of gospel, adding, ‘It gives me hope. With the blues, when you finish, you still have the blues.'”
Here she is with a classic, Summertime/Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child:
Here is the haunting and inspiring, Lord Don’t Move The Mountain, covered dozens of times since:
Here is a particularly emotional video of Mahalia singing at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral. Simply stunning and tragic: