Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Odetta R.I.P.

“O, Freedom” sang Odetta on the radio this morning, part of an old interview they re-used for her obituary on NPR this morning. That deep voice, so redolent of the tormented history of America. She was one of the great voices of the civil rights movement, so I’m glad she lived long enough to see a black man elected president (even if he is a centrist weenie). Then they played a bit of her singing “Amazing Grace” and I started to weep. Like one of Pavlov’s dogs… I unfailingly break down at folk songs. Last week, I cried during a PBS documentary about Pete Seeger, while he was singing “Michael Row the Boat Ashore.” My late mother, influenced by Joan Baez, used to sing this song, so there’s that, but it’s more than that. It’s the high lonesome strain of what’s best about this country, and the terrible, mighty struggles that have gotten us to where we are. In one of the volumes of Taylor Branch’s monumental trilogy about M.L. King, Jr., and his times, he quotes somebody, I forget who (Bob Moses?), singing in a Mississippi jail after being arrested for the practice of democracy, “Mississippi’s the next to go, hallelujah.”

3 comments:

Haiku575 said...

"Amazing Grace" gets me every time too. I love reading your posts, BK Bachelor.

apt pupil said...

Yeah, your posts make me cry.

M.Thew said...

I write the blogs that make the young girls cry.