Allow me to use this playlist to ramble a little about Martin Luther King, and King day.
It’s rare that I get excited about a playlist as I’m making it, but this was one of those playlists. I gave a deep and abiding love for so much music that comes out of the African-American tradition, and playing it on MLK day seems a good way to celebrate that. (As a musician, I stand on the shoulders of many of these musicians, one literally; Michael Cain was my teacher, and one of my important mentors)
As part of my own preparation to teach on King Day, I went back and reread most of his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” I recommend it. I would highlight his obvious frustration and anger with “moderates” in both the white and black communities of the time, who sympathize with the ambitions of the Civil Rights movement, but refuse to speak and act against its opponents. Power only listens to direct action; an important reminder for our time. In the yoga world, I bow to Seane Corn, a teacher who has certainly taken her yoga practice and teaching into the realm of direct action in many ways, and to everyone I know who uses their yoga as a tool for real social change.
Improvisation 3:57 Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band Season Of Changes
Alpha And Omega 1:29 Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band Season Of Changes
Soldier of Love 5:57 Sade Soldier of Love
Dreamer 4:32 K’naan Troubadour
Black Man 8:28 Stevie Wonder Songs In The Key Of Life
Funky Drummer 9:15 James Brown In The Jungle Groove
Spiritual High Part 3 5:16 Moodswings (album unknown, includes audio of the “Dream” speech)
Get By 3:47 Talib Kweli Quality
Red China Blues 4:09 Miles Davis Get Up With It
Could You Be Loved 3:57 Bob Marley & The Wailers Africa Unite: The Singles Collection
Right On 7:32 Marvin Gaye What’s Going On
Lift Every Voice and Sing 8:16 Orrin Evans Live In Jackson, Mississippi “White Boy You Don’t Know Nothin’ Bout No Barbeque”
Fellowship 3:14 Me’Shell Ndegéocello Comfort Woman
Red Rock Rain 4:56 Michael Cain Circa
At the bottom of the post is a video a friend in NYC posted on her facebook page for MLK day: ten quotes from MLK you’ve may never have heard. These days it’s easy to whitewash (pun only vaguely intended) King’s body of work; he would shudder at this. I’m delighted that we have a black president and the last two administrations (yup, even under Bush II) have probably seen the most visibly diverse political leadership in our history. But if you study the last five years of King’s activism, we haven’t made much progress in the areas that consumed him: povery, income inequality, and our nation’s dreadful march torward militarism. Best to listen again.