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Posts Tagged ‘Martin Luther King’

At number 13 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Revolution”. This is a great John Lennon rock ‘n’ roll song, but one with a message. In fact, for those of you who are not that familiar with The Beatles, there are two versions of “Revolution”. There is the rock ‘n’ roll version which was released as the B-side to the single “Hey Jude”, but there is also a slow, bluesy version on The Beatles’ White Album. In fact, the slow version was recorded before the fast version. They sound very different, so if you have not heard both I suggest you try to find the album version.

“Revolution” was inspired by current events. 1968 is often thought of as one of the years which has seen the most uprising and unrest of any year in the second half of the 20th Century. With the Vietnam War spiralling out of control, riots on the streets of Paris, unrest in Prague, the murder of Martin Luther King in April, and other world events, Lennon decided to write about them in “Revolution”. He had been political for a number of years, but was always prevented from saying what was on his mind by their manager Brian Epstein. With Epstein’s death in August 1967, Lennon felt the liberty to vent his views.

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At number 13 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Revolution”

Here are the lyrics to this fantastic song.

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out

Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can

But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait

Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright, al…

You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You’d better free your mind instead

But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow

Don’t you know know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright

Alright, alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright

This is a live studio performance of the fast version, from The Beatles’ VEVO channel, so hopefully it will not disappear. Enjoy!

dff

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Just over 7 years ago, in early 2009, I bought a CD of some of Robert Kennedy’s greatest speeches. Whilst his brother John F. Kennedy gave some memorable speeches, for me Bobby Kennedy possibly surpassed JFK with his eloquence. One of his most moving and wonderful speeches has been passing through my mind these last two weeks or so; with the senseless shootings of innocent black people by police in the United States, the killing of the five policemen by an assassin in Houston, the horrific terrorist attack in Nice on Bastille Day which has killed at least 84 people, many of them children, and the failed coup in Turkey with over 100 dead. And, just as I was putting this blog together yesterday, the shooting of 3 more police officers in Baton Rouge.

Robert Kennedy (RFK) served as Attonery General under his brother’s Prisidency, but in 1965 he entered the Senate as one of the senators for New York. On 16 March 1968, RFK announced that he would run for the presidency, and set about touring the USA to garner support for his campaign. On the evening of 4 April, he was due to give a speech in Indianapolis when he learnt en-route of the assassination of Martin Luther King. He broke the news to the gathered crowd, many of whom had not heard the news until Bobby Kennedy told them. He gave a very moving and powerful speech on that evening, and I may blog about that particular speech another time. 

But, today I am going to share the speech that he gave the day after MLK’s assassination, on 5 April 1968. The speech is entitled “The mindless menace of violence“, and it was delivered at the Cleveland Club in Ohio.

Kennedy toured the country as part of his campaign to become President of the United States, concentrating to a large part on some of the poorest communities in the country, where he met with dissaffected whites, blacks and latinos who had been left behind by the ‘American Dream’.

“this mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.”

It is quite a long speech, nearly 10 minutes long, but bear with it and I think you will be struck by its eloquence. Bobby Kennedy wrote the speech himself, putting it together in the hours after the horror of MLK’s assassination had sunk into his mind. 

The speech opens with these lines….

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity to speak briefly to you about this mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one – no matter where he lives or what he does – can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by his assassin’s bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people……

But, Bobby Kennedy was also deeply concerned with the economic disparities in the United States, and with the sickening racism which had profoundly disturbed him. He later goes on to say…

……

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man’s spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all. I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. 

Followed immediately by these words…

When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies – to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.

The entire text can be found here at the John F. Kennedy presidential library website.

There are several versions of this mesmerising speech on YouTube, but many seem to have had an annoying soundtrack of some music added. I feel the added music detracts from hearing Bobby Kennedy’s words, which are powerful enough and do not need any music to make them more dramatic. So, the version I have included here is just RFK’s incredible words.

What strikes me most when I hear or read these words of Bobby Kennedy is how little progress we have made. One could argue that we have digressed; there are more mass shootings now in the USA than in the 1960s when these words were spoken. There is more terrorism and conflict than ever. And, in the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump, we have a man who is the very antithesis of the wonderful ideals for which Bobby Kennedy stood.

I would say “enjoy” this video, but I am not sure that one can enjoy this speech. It is moving, harrowing, thought-provoking, upsetting, but also uplifting. To think that RFK was himself assassinated within a few months of giving this speech, it only adds poignancy to his words and highlights even more the truth and sadness of the mindless menace of violence

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I am currently in the United States, and today is Martin Luther King day, a Federal holiday. MLK day is always the third Monday in January, and is to celebrate the birthday and life of one of America’s most important public figures.  King was born on January 15, so the 3rd Monday in January is always near his birthday.

The holiday was made a Federal holiday by President Reagan in 1983, and it was celebrated for the first time as a Federal holiday in 1986 (although some states were already celebrating it). The signing by Reagan creating the MLK day was after many years of campaigning, and the song I have decided to include today by Stevie Wonder was part of that campaign.

Martin Luther King at the March on Washington in 1963, where he gave his famous "I have a dream" speech.

Martin Luther King at the March on Washington in 1963, where he gave his famous “I have a dream” speech.

You know it doesn’t make much sense
There ought to be a law against
Anyone who takes offense
At a day in your celebration
Cause we all know in our minds
That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you
And I’m sure you would agree
It couldn’t fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

I just never understood
How a man who died for good
Could not have a day that would
Be set aside for his recognition
Because it should never be
Just because some cannot see
The dream as clear as he
that they should make it become an illusion
And we all know everything
That he stood for time will bring
For in peace our hearts will sing
Thanks to Martin Luther King

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

Why has there never been a holiday
Where peace is celebrated
all throughout the world

The time is overdue
For people like me and you
Who know the way to truth
Is love and unity to all God’s children
It should be a great event
And the whole day should be spent
In full remembrance
Of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people
So let us all begin
We know that love can win
Let it out don’t hold it in
Sing it loud as you can

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Ooh yeah
Happy birthday…

We know the key to unify all people
Is in the dream that you had so long ago
That lives in all of the hearts of people
That believe in unity
We’ll make the dream become a reality
I know we will
Because our hearts tell us so

Here is the video of this wonderful song. Enjoy!

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Today I thought I would share this wonderfully tender song by Stevie Wonder – “Lately”. It is from his 1981 album “Hotter than July” which I have on vinyl and have transferred to mp3 format so that I can listen to it on the move.



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The album also includes the song “Happy Birthday”, which I will blog about in the future, but probably “Lately” is my favourite song on an album which has several great songs. To me it speaks of a suspicion in the songwriter’s mind that his partner is being unfaithful to him, but I know that is not the only interpretation of the song.


Lately, I have had the strangest feeling
With no vivid reason here to find
Yet the thought of losing you’s been hanging
’round my mind

Far more frequently you’re wearing perfume
With you say no special place to go
But when I ask will you be coming back soon
You don’t know, never know

Well, I’m a man of many wishes
Hope my premonition misses
But what I really feel my eyes won’t let me hide
‘Cause they always start to cry
‘Cause this time could mean goodbye

Lately I’ve been staring in the mirror
Very slowly picking me apart
Trying to tell myself I have no reason
with your heart

Just the other night while you were sleeping
I vaguely heard you whisper someone’s name
But when I ask you of the thoughts your keeping
You just say nothing’s changed

Well, I’m a man of many wishes
I hope my premonition misses
But what I really feel my eyes won’t let me hide
‘Cause they always start to cry
‘Cause this time could mean goodbye, goodbye

Oh, I’m a man of many wishes
I hope my premonition misses
But what I really feel my eyes won’t let me hide
‘Cause they always start to cry
‘Cause this time could mean goodbye.

Here is the song, a live version as I could not find the “studio version” on YouTube.




Which is your favourite song on “hotter than July”?

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Back in late August I wrote a series of blogs on Martin Luther King, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his “I have a dream” speech (here, here and here). At the time I said I would write more about his assassination in April, as he was killed on the 4th of April 1968 in Memphis Tennessee. Unfortunately I don’t have the time this week to do the post proper justice, so I will leave it for another time. Instead, I am sharing this wonderful live performance of U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, which is one of their several tribute songs to Martin Luther King.



The back cover of the sleeve for U2's single "Pride (In The Name Of Love)"

The back cover of the sleeve for U2’s single “Pride (In The Name Of Love)”



The lyrics of the song are

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come here to justify
One man to overthrow
In the name of love!
One man in the name of love
In the name of love!
What more? In the name of love!

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resists
One man washed on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love!
What more? In the name of love!

…nobody like you…there’s nobody like you…

Mmm…mmm…mmm…
Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love!
What more in the name of love…


The particular performance I have included here is from their movie “Rattle and Hum”. Enjoy!





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