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Morning Song – Mississippi Goddam

December 8, 2015

(One in a series of songs that Rolling Stone left out of its 2013 “reader’s poll” of the “10 best protest songs of all time”.)

It’s not as if Rolling Stone has no institutional memory.  After all, its founder is still  (48 years later) the magazine’s publisher.

And it’s not like Black women haven’t written great protest songs in the rock and roll era.  (With all due respect to Barry McGuire and Stephen Stills, nobody was singing their songs in the streets at the end of the historic Selma-to-Montgomery march; and the authorities weren’t banning their songs the way Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam” was banned in the 1960s.)  And yet, there was no room for Nina Simone—or any other woman—on Rolling Stone’s reader’s list of top protest songs.

Simone wrote “Mississippi Godddam” in an incandescent blaze of fury after the assassination of Medgar Evers and the 16th St. Baptist Church bombing. As comedian-activist Dick Gregory later said, “If you look at all the suffering black folks went through, not one black man would dare say ‘Mississippi Goddam.’ We all wanted to say it. She said it.

Oh, but this whole country is full of lies;
You’re all gonna die and die like flies;
I don’t trust you any more;
You keep on saying, “Go slow! Go slow!”

You don’t have to live next to me;
Just give me my equality;
Everybody knows about Mississippi;
Everybody knows about Alabama;
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam!

Now that’s a protest song.

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From → Music

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