Music Monday – “Free at Last”

Unless you’re living in a cave, you’ve probably heard of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most well-known civil rights leaders in the United States…even if you aren’t from the U.S.  Today is the U.S. federal holiday in celebration of his birthday.  As such, today’s Music Monday will focus on songs about him and his cause.

I first saw this video for Miri Ben-Ari’s “Symphony of Brotherhood” a few years ago while helping out with a MLK Day program.  Great song and video.

Roger Taylor said “The original words were actually about Martin Luther King, Jr.“, but that they got changed a bit by the rest of the group, Queen.  If you listen to the song, though, you can still hear a lot of the lines as originally written by Taylor about MLK and his hope for the future.

“I had a dream
When I was young
A dream of sweet illusion
A glimpse of hope and unity
And visions of one sweet union”

While U2 may have had a factual error in their lyrics (MLK was not shot in the early morning), it shows the global recognition and impact of King’s struggle and his vision that a band big into making political statements with their music chose to reference him in this song, as well as MLK, a lullaby to King on the album An Unforgettable Fire.

“Free at last,
they took your life,
they could not take your pride”

Finally, we have Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five with “The King” from the album On The Strength, released in 1988.  The song begins with a sampling from King’s “I Have A Dream Speech.”

“Listen to the words, see if you understand
the trials and tribulations of one black man
For the man who lived and died for the struggle and cause
let’s have a moment, a second, a silence, a pause”

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