Deep Cuts

Deep Cuts: MLK Songs

Martin_Luther_King_Jr_NYWTS_5This has been a two-fer week for me. Martin Luther King Day aligned with deadlines both here and on The Good Men Project, so the two of you who read me in both places are seeing some repeats.

I’m sorry, and to make it up to you I’ll change up this week’s playlist so that it doesn’t exactly match its predecessor on GMP. Here we go:

“MLK,” U2. I loved The Unforgettable Fire, but I hated “Pride (In the Name of Love).” The problem with that cut on that album was that it didn’t fit the atmospheric mood of the rest of the record. “Pride” felt like a hit single jammed onto an otherwise cohesive album. “MLK,” though, there’s your huckleberry:

“By the Time I Get to Arizona,” Public Enemy. The title is a funny riff on the Jimmy Webb classic “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” but there’s nothing funny about Arizona’s refusal to honor the federal Martin Luther King Day holiday. The state finally came around in 1992, but they weren’t the last to adopt: It took until 2000 for South Carolina to recognize MLK Day.

This is an audience video, but worth it for Chuck D’s intro.

“Why? (The King of Love is Dead),” Nina Simone. You’re going to want a tissue box nearby before you play this one. Recorded just days after Dr. King’s death, it’s a gut wrencher.

“Abraham, Martin, and John,” Moms Mabley. This cut was a hit for Dion, but this version by Moms Mabley is pretty sweet.

“A Dream,” Common. Dr. King’s speeches have been sampled in quite a few songs. This cut by Common was for the Freedom Riders soundtrack.

“Happy Birthday,” Stevie Wonder. Stevie recorded this during the push to have Dr. King’s birthday recognized as a national holiday.

“Blues for Martin Luther King,” Otis Spann. The cut on this playlist you’re least likely to know, and the one you’re most likely to dig. The great Otis Spann died in 1970 from liver cancer. He was only 40 years old.

What MLK songs are on your playlist? I’m listening.

photo public domain/Wikimedia Commons

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