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Posts Tagged ‘Mahalia Jackson’

It’s Easter, again. Since I have never had a religion, Christian or otherwise, even as a child, the holiday probably doesn’t hold the same significance for me than it might for many of you. But I do know and enjoy many of the stories and lesson of the religions.

Among them all, the Resurrection is certainly one of the most potent, even if only in symbolic terms. The idea of rebirth and redemption is a powerful concept, one that many of us who have wronged in the past seek in our own lives.

I am hoping for such a resurrection in this country, one that sees us returning to a code of ethics and a rule of law which finds no one above it. One that places what is best for the most of us over what is best for a chosen few and where we seek to help the neediest rather than the most fortunate among us. One that holds those who hide behind lies and falsehoods responsible for their words and actions. One where those who represent us in our government understand their obligation to serve country rather than party or moneyed interests.

Is that too much to ask?

Maybe. But it sures seems that we, as a nation, are at a point where such a restoration of honor and sanity is sorely needed. Hopefully, the findings revealed this past week will set us on the path to such a thing.

Anyway, for this Easter Sunday, I have selected a song that doesn’t really have anything to do with the day. It’s Nobody Knows (The Trouble I’ve Seen) performed by the great Sam Cooke. It’s a different interpretation of the African-American spiritual that came from the slave era and it soars. I am also sharing the magnificent Mahalia Jackson which has a second gear that is truly uplifting. And that fits this day, doesn’t it?

Hope you have a good day.


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Silent Night

Mystery of the Unseen

Slowly on the mend and in my weakness somehow let some useless trivia find its way into my head. It seems that the song Silent Night is the most recorded holiday song of all time, having been recorded 137,315 times.

Maybe it’s because I don’t feel great but all I can think is “ugh.”

The reaction has nothing to do with the song itself. It’s a lovely song and there are worse songs that could occupy its spot as the number one holiday song. Imagine 137,000 versions of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer— I don’t think I would ever feel well again.

It just feels like 137,000 versions of any song might be a few too many.

As it is, you could start listening to versions of Silent Night this morning and you would still be listening to them a year from now, even if the asylum you’re in lets you listen to it around the clock.

So, let’s hope for a hiatus on future versions of the song. But before shutting the door on listening to it, give a look and a listen to what I think is a definitive version from the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. This is a wonderful performance and her face is as expressive as the music and lyrics.

 

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Georges Rouault- Crucifixion 1939

Georges Rouault- Crucifixion 1939

I can’t say that I am a religious person, religion never being much of a part of my upbringing.  I never attended a single Easter service and pretty much thought of the day in terms of chocolate Easter bunnies and colored eggs in my youth.  But I respected the traditions and stories of the Bible and of the other religions as I picked them up through the years and understood the solemnity and importance of faith, even if my own was sometimes lacking.  That being said, I thought I might play a little music this morning that had to do with the fact that it is Easter Sunday.

I have always been drawn to and moved by the passion and conviction of the great gospel songs especially when performed by those with the talent and conviction to match the  material, such as  Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and all so many others.  Sam Cooke, one of the greatest  pop and R & B stars of the 50’s and early 60’s, was also a great gospel singer.  I loved his voice and  could listen to him sing the phone book but when he sang the gospel, it was often magic. Here’s his version of Were You There ( When They Crucified My Lord), which is an old plantation spiritual that fits in with the day and,  performed by Sam Cooke is as I said, magic .

Hope you have a great Sunday.

 

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The official dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial is set for today in Washington, DC.  When thinking about King, the thing that always comes to mind for me is a sense of a grand dignity that demnded respect even from those who stood in direct opposition to the things for which he stood.  It manifested itself in a steadfast and calm manner that really evoked the righteousness of his cause.  At least, that’s what comes to my mind.  Qualities that we all should aspire to, especially those who choose public service as a career.

I came across this wonderful version of the gospel song, Lord Don’t Move the Mountain, by the great Mahalia Jackson that really seemed to fit the day and the occasion.  I was not raised with religion or faith as large parts of my life but I am moved by the faith that is evident in the power of Mahalia Jackson’s singing on this song and several others.  Like I wrote of King above, there is a grand dignity to it.

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