Thursday, October 19, 2006


The rebroadcast of the three-part documentary "Eyes on the Prize" - PBS's chronicle of the civil rights movement - inspired me to dig out some of my miscellaneous compilation CDs to fulfill a craving for 1960s gospel and spiritual music. (The documentary itself is full of great vocal spiritual music from the Smithsonian's Folkways collection.)

During that search, I found a Hear Music (that's the Starbucks brand) compilation called "Songs of the Spirit" that came out a few Christmas seasons ago. It's kind of a weird assortment of great traditional gospel/spiritual music and questionable folk and neo-folk songs.

But if anyone is looking for a good soundtrack to the civil rights movement, I would suggest some of these songs are a good place to start. I'll list the full track listing, with an * next to the traditional spirituals.

1. Abide with Me by Thelonius Monk Septet
2. In the Palm of Your Hand by Alison Kraus and Union Station
*3. People Get Ready by the Chambers Singers
4. The Long Day is Over by Norah Jones
5. Listen to the Shepherd by Jim Lauderdale, Ralph Stanley, and the Clinch Mountain Boys
*6. Freedom Road by the Blind Boys of Alabama
7. Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright
*8. Roll Jordan Roll by the Fairfield Four
*9. Weeping Mary by Word of Mouth Chorus
*10. Strength, Power and Love by the Soul Stirrers
*11. Amazing Grace by the Swan Silvertones
12. Orphan Girl by Gillian Welch
*13. None of Us Are Free by Solomon Burke
*14. Didn't It Rain by Mahalia Jackson
*15. Joy to the World by Pastor Patrinell Wright with the Total Experience Gospel Choir

Another song that came to mind during this documentary was "I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to Be Free" by Nina Simone, or really, any Nina Simone... including her Martin Luther King Suite.

Update: While you're at the Folkways Web site, download the 24 one-hour podcasts - a collection of old-time music, spoken word and sound recordings from the landmark project of American music.

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