On this day in 1929 Martin Luther King, Jr was born. There's nothing I can say about MLK that hasn't already been expressed a million times over. Today I will simply say BLACK LIVES MATTER. The journey continues and the fight for equality carries on.
Until this country acknowledges and addresses the deeply rooted racism and classism woven into our system, true equality cannot be achieved. Until the majority of white people in this country realize institutionalized racism not only exists, but belongs to them and they need to actively help fix it, this cannot be fully changed. So, until then (or until we can throw balance of power off) we must keep pushing on, keep demanding change, keep organizing, keep recruiting people to get off of their couches and their devices and stand up for an ethical America, and allies need to keep persuading and coaxing the rest of the folks to see the truth.
The Record of the Day is by Chicago-based gospel and sometimes soul singer Shirley Wahls. It's an inspirational track released in the year following King's assassination. The words couldn't be more relevant today. Listen to this song. Watch "Eyes on the Prize". Go see "Selma" in the theater. Boycott the Oscars.
I thought that maybe I should pick up the tempo today with some Sunday morning music. As a young person I was introduced to this song by Sounds of Blackness, a gospel ensemble from my home state. You don't have to be religious to appreciate the universal message of this song. It's about hope and freedom.
"I'll Fly Away" was written in the 1920s by Albert E. Brumley while picking cotton in the fields of Oklahoma, or at least that's how the story goes. With one song Mr. Brumley has lifted millions of hearts for the better part of a century. What an amazing gift to give the world! Now combine a powerful song with powerful group and you get my Record of the Day.
No other musical act has carried me through more difficult times than the Staple Singers. Their 1965 version of "I'll Fly Away" features the pulsating, electric delta blues guitar of Pops Staples, which became a musical backdrop for the Civil Rights Movement. While this composition has been a staple (no pun intended) in both bluegrass and Black gospel, it's undeniable that with this particular song the meaning changes with context. In this modern era of entitlement and the search for fulfillment through the never ending acquisition of expensive yet disposable material gratification, it seems almost unbelievable that something so simple as one song could bring so much meaning to so many people.
And so, I suspect that if the most stubborn skeptic considered the impact of a group like the Staple Singers and a song like "I'll Fly Away", maybe even they could be convinced to believe in gifts from the divine.
*BONUS - If you need another dose of "I'll Fly Away" check out this version by the 5 Blind Boys of Alabama.
DJ Action Slacks
I'm excited to highlight some of my favorite records in a variety of genres (soul, R&B, classic country, rockabilly, oldies, garage rock, etc). These won't all necessarily be "dance" records per se. They will all be records that I believe deserve a special listen. I simply love good music, rare or not. Hopefully you will spend some time here and love music right along with me! Lets give this a shot!