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John Coltrane

I didn’t get a chance to post my traditional tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. yesterday. So instead I thought to post about a piece of music inspired by a tragic event and a sermon given by Dr. King after these events. The song is called “Alabama” and written by John Coltrane.

Alabama, by John Coltrane

Martin Luther King addressed a crowd of mourners at the funeral service for Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, and Cynthia Diane Wesley in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on September 18. A separate service was held for the fourth victim, Carole Robertson. He delivered a moving speech, a Eulogy for the Martyred Children. Coltrane may have had Martin Luther King’s eulogy in mind when performing the piece. Both Coltrane’s music and King’s words are passionate and mournful, and lack bitterness and hatred. Similar to King’s speech where he transforms from mourning into determination for the struggle against racism, there is a point in the tune where Elvin Jones switches from a very quite accompaniment into a crescendo of toms and cymbals played with mallets.

This song is not about mourning. This song to about one simple goal, learning to love one another.

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