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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Views and Review : 'We Shall Overcome' by Pete Seeger

Ever since we learn words,to speak,to serve the primary purpose of communication,we also learn a major component of flow.And we learn what is statutory,and what flows,almost as instinctively.Learning,after all,comes along with learning the compliment of whatever is learnt.Music,as I think I have said somewhere earlier,is a flow itself.And this song is one of the first songs that I had learnt as a small kid,when I was either 5 or 6 years old.I didn't know who was Pete Seeger at that time,of course but I always had more to ask about the song because of a certain feeling of  déjà vu I have always had since a time I don't seem to remember,with people singing mellow 
tunes,the pictures in black and white but I don't,also remember if I ever had watched a video in English and in black and white except for Charlie Chaplin before that.A lot later,when I actually learnt about Pete Seeger,his voice,his life,his protest,his activism,I realised how you sometimes have to honour a song,how your feelings themselves act so compulsively to make you do it.Do I really need to explain any more of the emotional connection of mine with the song?

'We Shall Overcome' (Pete Seeger Version) Lyrics
(Credit : lyrics.wikia.com)

We shall overcome, 
We shall overcome, 
We shall overcome, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.

We'll walk hand in hand, 
We'll walk hand in hand, 
We'll walk hand in hand, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.

We shall live in peace, 
We shall live in peace, 
We shall live in peace, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.

We are not afraid, 
We are not afraid, 
We are not afraid, TODAY 

Oh, deep in my heart,
I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.

The whole wide world around
The whole wide world around
The whole wide world around some day

Oh, deep in my heart,
I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.


(Photograph Credit : Google Images)

About The Song
Credit : Wikipedia

"We Shall Overcome" is a protest song that became a key anthem of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. It is widely speculated that the title and structure of the song are derived from an early gospel song, "I'll Overcome Someday", by African-American composer Charles Albert Tindley (1851–1933). However, although there are lyrical similarities, the melodic, harmonic, rhythmic and lyrical structures of Tindley's hymn are radically different from that of "We Shall Overcome". In addition, there is no mention whatsoever of Rev. Tindley or his composition in either the 1960 and 1963 copyrights of "We Shall Overcome".


The song "We Will Overcome" was published in the September 1948 issue of People's Songs Bulletin (a publication of People's Songs, an organization of which Pete Seeger was the director and guiding spirit). It appeared in the bulletin as a contribution of and with an introduction by Zilphia Horton, then music director of the Highlander Folk School of Monteagle, Tennessee, an adult education school that trained union organizers. In it, she wrote that she had learned the song from members of the CIO Food and Tobacco Workers Union: "It was first sung in Charleston, S.C. ... Its strong emotional appeal and simple dignity never fails to hit people. It sort of stops them cold silent."It was her favorite song and she taught it to countless others, including Pete Seeger, who included it in his repertoire, as did many other activist singers, such as Frank Hamilton and Joe Glazer, who recorded it in 1950.

According to the late Pete Seeger, the song is thought to have become associated with the Civil Rights Movement from 1959, when Guy Carawan stepped in as song leader at Highlander, which was then focused on nonviolent civil rights activism. Seeger states the song quickly became the movement's unofficial anthem. Pete Seeger and other famous folksingers in the early 1960s, such as Joan Baez, sang the song at rallies, folk festivals, and concerts in the North and helped make it widely known. Since its rise to prominence, the song, and songs based on it, have been used in a variety of protests worldwide.

In a 2006 interview with Beliefnet.com interviewer, Wendy Schuman; Pete Seeger responded to the following question regarding the origin of "We Shall Overcome":

Wendy Schuman: "What's the origin of 'We Shall Overcome', the hymn of the Civil Rights Movement, which you popularized?"

Pete Seeger: "Nobody knows exactly who wrote the original. The original was faster." [Sings] "I'll be alright, I'll be alright, I'll be alright, someday ... deep in my heart I do not weep, I'll be alright someday." Or "deep in my heart I do believe." And other verses are "I'll wear the crown, I'll wear the crown," and "I'll be like Him, I'll be like Him" or "I'll overcome, I'll overcome".

Song Review

 I do not want to people think they are going to smash my head or feel pleasure in the thought of doing so.How come you even try to judge lyrics of 'We Shall Overcome'.Obviously,not kidding and not out of compulsion,lyrics here is absolutely perfect.The instrumentals used are minimal,this makes it sound even better.
The tune is apt.And the voice is one of my most favourite voices I have ever listened to (out of the thousands of songs I have listened to till date).I love Seeger's voice.It is a lovely combination of a baritone and a sweetly ringing,soft,sophisticated soprano.There is no thought of figuring out flaws with his singing or way of singing,either.Also,the movement it was primarily connected to and the subsequent movements in which the song was used as people's inspiration leaves no doubts that this is beyond perfect.

The scores are here -

Lyrics - 5/5
Instrumentals - 5/5
Melody - 5/5
The voice behind - 5/5



As a song - {(20/20 * 100)%} = 100%

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3 comments:

  1. The song is still relevant for a lot of people even in India.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The song is still relevant for a lot of people even in India.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes,we used to sing this even at school! And I think my parents did,too.A truly inspirational work,indeed.

      Delete

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