On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, I had a few things on my mind. Fortunately, I can take a nap because the ever-reliable and brilliant Bill Maher did some heavy, and quite humorous, lifting last night:
Every time I hear the crack of a whip,
My blood runs cold.
I remember on the slave ship,
How they brutalized our very souls.
Today they say that we are free,
Only to be chained in poverty.
Good God, I think it’s illiteracy;
It’s only a machine that makes money…
Bob Marley and the Wailers: “Slave Driver”:
Burning Spear: “Slavery Days”:
Send my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the world…
This line, from “Open up the Gate” crystallizes the powerful consciousness the Congos are tapping into here: in one line they capture the essence of both the Old Testament and Repatriation—from slaves to immigrants to artists. It is spoken (quoted) as the voice of God (literally), but more, the voice of memory, summarizing the story of our time on this planet. (More here.)
The Congos: “Open Up The Gate”:
Anyone in the know already knows two things: no self-respecting fan of music can tolerate the absence of Two Sevens Clash from their collections, and Joseph Hill’s voice is enough to make even the most recalcitrant atheist at least contemplate the possibility of a higher power. A single line from any Culture song makes it abundantly, wonderfully apparent that Joseph Hill was put on this earth, above all other things, to sing. (More here.)
Culture: “Chiney Man”:
Linton Kwesi Johnson: “Bass Culture”: