Songs for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday

“Judge Not,” Bob Marley


Marley’s very first recorded single was released in 1961 and his message carries much wisdom for someone who sounds so very young: “Don't you look at me so smug / And say I'm going bad / Who are you to judge me / And the life that I live? / I know that I'm not perfect / And that I don't claim to be / So before you point your fingers / Be sure your hands are clean / Judge not / Before you judge yourself / Judge not / If you're not ready for judgement.”


“A Dream,” Common featuring Will.i.am.


Common and Will.I.Am sample MLK’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. The video is pretty damn cool, possibly better than the song itself.



"Pride (In the Name of Love),” U2


The second single off U2’s 1984 album, The Unforgettable Fire, is about MLK.


Via Wikipedia from Neil McCormick's bio, U2 by U2:


“The melody and the chords came out of a 1983 War Tour sound check in Hawaii. The song was originally intended to be about Ronald Reagan's pride in America's military power but writer Bono had been influenced by Stephen B. Oates's book Let The Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as by a biography of Malcolm X. These caused Bono to ponder the different sides of the civil rights campaigns, the violent and the non-violent. In subsequent years, Bono has expressed his dissatisfaction with the lyrics, which he describes, along with another Unforgettable Fire song “Bad” as being “left as simple sketches.” He blames this on being swayed by The Edge and producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who played down the need to develop the lyrics as they thought the impressionistic nature was more important to the songs' feeling, particularly when heard by non-English speakers.”


“Happy Birthday,” Stevie Wonder


Stevie Wonder busted out his tribute to Dr. King last night at P. Diddy’s BET Honors afterparty/Inauguration weekend celebration.


“How I Got Over,” Mahalia Jackson


Jackson belted out the song after Rev. Dr. King finished delivering his “I Have A Dream" speech. I wanted to end my list with some vintage video that was recorded during the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, but the embed function on this particular YouTube vid has been "disabled by request," so you'll just have to go directly to the site to check it out.


What songs did I miss? Please feel free to them out.

In honor of the good doctor’s day, I’ve compiled a list of songs either paying tribute to MLK or spreading a message I do believe he’d approve of.

“Power to the People,” Curtis Mayfield

“It is now the nation's turn / for all to be concerned / We can be freer still / it is the people's will / And bring back the power for the people / that's all we ask in our country dear / the sick and the hungry are unable / protect them and those who may live in fear.”

“Motherless Child,” Richie Havens, the Woodstock 1969 version.

Havens sings straight from the heart, his face almost pained when he bellows “Freedom” over and over again.

“Black or White,” Michael Jackson

Jackson promotes racial harmony with a John Landis-directed video that features a young and adorably rebellious post-Home Alone Macaulay Culkin.

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