Sunday, March 3, 2013

Protest Song

Nina Simone - Mississippi G****m

The name of this tune is Mississippi G****m
And I mean every word of it
Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi G****m [x2]
Can't you see it
Can't you feel it
It's all in the air
I can't stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer
Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi G****m
This is a show tune
But the show hasn't been written for it, yet
Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day's gonna be my last
Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don't belong here
I don't belong there
I've even stopped believing in prayer
Don't tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I've been there so I know
They keep on saying "Go slow!"
But that's just the trouble
"do it slow"
Washing the windows
"do it slow"
Picking the cotton
"do it slow"
You're just plain rotten
"do it slow"
You're too d**n lazy
"do it slow"
The thinking's crazy
"do it slow"
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don't know
I don't know
Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi G****m
I made you thought I was kiddin'
Picket lines
School boy cots
They try to say it's a communist plot
All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me
Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you'd stop calling me Sister Sadie
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!"
But that's just the trouble
"do it slow"
"do it slow"
Mass participation
"do it slow"
"do it slow"
Do things gradually
"do it slow"
But bring more tragedy
"do it slow"
Why don't you see it
Why don't you feel it
I don't know
I don't know
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 G****m
That's it!

I chose this song because it is a very inspirational tune, with some even calling it the “most effective American protest song.” This song was conceived in response to the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four African-American girls and to the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers, killed by the Klu Klux Klan. Evers was the NAACP field secretary in Mississippi. This song protests the discrimination in America during the Civil Rights movement. When this song was made, Nina Simone was a civil rights activist, strongly fighting for the equal rights of her fellow African Americans. The injustices that plagued the United States during the 1900’s were killing Simone’s people and directly affecting her life as she says that she thought everyday was going to be her last. This tune is a very straight-forward one, as Simone doesn’t hide anything or use any symbols to cover up what she really feels: “Oh but this whole country is full of lies/You’re all gonna die and die like flies/I don't trust you anymore.” She also directly addressed certain states such as Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi in the lines: “Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi G****m.” On this record, she criticizes the common argument at the time that civil rights activists and African Americans should "go slow" and make changes in the United States little by little: “Keep on sayin' 'go slow' do things gradually would bring more tragedy. Why don't you see it? Why don't you feel it? I don't know, I don't know.” This anger-filled tune was so controversial that it was banned in many states, including the ones it attacked. Regarded as one of her most popular protest songs, it became a civil rights activist anthem. Simone’s message was simple and clear: “You don't have to live next to me, just give me my equality!”


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