Where are the MLK songs?

My friend Per over at Computer Style loves loves loves his reggae, especially (gasp!) dancehall.  I can’t blame him, though–with some of the mixes he’s made for me, he makes a pretty good case for the argument that dancehall revitalized reggae after it was getting stale towards the end of the 70’s.  Or something like that.  He could explain it better than I.

 Anyway, we got to talking about the themes of MLK day and how very few songs (with notable exceptions) have chronicled that day, whether in soul music, punk, reggae, or any other genre notable for admiring heroes of freedom and giving a voice to hope.  And even though the last hour of MLK day has come and went (I spent the holiday hiking in the desert, rather than taking it to the streets), I wonder why there are so few such songs.  Perhaps it’s because King was a reverend, and despite the religious convictions of the early rockers, it’s just not hip to give a eulogy for a man of the cloth, since heaven knows they think we’re all just a bunch of drugged-out Satan worshippers.  Perhaps it is because so much of King’s dream has been eroded by a couple decades of evil fuckers in the White House who don’t care about black people, a do-nothing Congress that slashes funds, and states where they celebrate Robert E. Lee day on the same day as MLK?

I dunno.  But until a couple years back there was one man touring the planet with a hit about King, at least in part.  I wish I could find his powerful performance from the Tonight Show, recorded just a few days after some friends and I met this man at a (ecccccch!) Blonde Redhead show, but it was very moving and very, very drunken.  And then he died very expectedly thereafter!  Joe Strummer, we’ll miss you.

Well, until people get off their ass and stop making songs about how bad-assed they are for shopping, at least we’ll have a few songs, like this one:

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