Music ’been always…   1 comment

music ’been always
a part of our history

Drums running rhythms cross country,
us singing in the language of the birds and trees
roaring with the lions,
humming with the bees
But that was long, long ago,
long before Jericho
Many a man’s come a-tumbling down
once the Word was said, and got around

There was magic and message always in the music —
we would talk in song,
passing the news along,
singing semaphore spirituals
“gon’ steal away, Jesus,
steal away home…”
and spiritual, we slipped away
training on the underground railroad

Now, spirituals we sang from slavery,
and you know slavery gives you the blues
It works the same
on every man,
no matter which name you use

The blues was a feelin’
then it became a sound
It wasn’t new,
weren’t no mystery
’cause music ’been always,
a part of our history

When I came along,
started working the trains,
the blues was growing,
Black folks was making gains
The blues came to the cities,
by road,
by rail
it grew hard like concrete,
they made it cold like steel,
but when we was playin’,
you knew it was real,
which music ’been always,
a part of our history

Rolling, running,
wheels ringing on the railroad,
songs rushing on the wind
As twin serpents of iron
snaking cross country,
pulsing arteries of iron energy,
breath of smoke & steam,
the click-clack clackety ricochet
kept the rhythm throughout the day

Horn and whistle wailed sweet jazz,
the train was a giant harmonica,
moaning the blues as it moved,
and through the night,
you could hear jazz giants playin’
blues masters prayin’ in the key of G
And all the while,
that engine kept chugging,
pulling us onward,
up that glory road,
pluming smoke and steam like a shiny saxophone

We used to get all the crew —
Prez, Bird, Dizzy, Monk
and of course, Cannonball
Fats, Satchmo, Fatha Hines,
Bessie Smith sending shivers down the line
The Duke and Count was royalty,
and we had Lester and Lucky
Miles and Morgan was always hornin’ in,
and with Mingus among us
kickin’ up a ruckus,
you’d look up, and it’d be morning

We took Dame Holiday, Dorothy D.,
sisters Sarah, Ella, Nina
& the only Lena Horne —
cross country by train they all were borne
singing              swinging               swaying
changing minds with their music
healing the blind with their music
kicking behinds with their music
— like magic,
which music ’been always,
a part of our history

But the last one I remember,
a young fella on horn,
’played like he hit the floor runnin’
a relentless rhinoceros,
blasting through mountains of silence
to explode
roaring out of dark tunnels,
man & horn as one, alone,
a wailing soprano saxophone,
changing minds with his music,
healing the blind with his music,
kicking behinds with his music,
as music ’been always,
a part of our history

Standing at the station,
his music made me see light in the distance,
his music was light bridging the distance,
it brought a shine to my eyes —
made my spirit smile
’cause then I knew my Trane had come in —
’Twas time for my ascension
training on the spiritual railroad

So you ask me now,
what’s to do,
what with this new music,
the Social Rag and you?

Son, a word can change your mind,
a song can change the world
ask the Beatles or Quincy Jones
Why not give it a whirl?

If you can make a difference,
and won’t,
who’s to say you wouldn’t have died today,
if you had just believed…
..but ya don’t!

Folks is finally waking up,
it’s the Lifeline Express!
The underground railroad is pullin’ out
The band’s on board,
and they’re playin’ your song
Are you goin’ to jus’ hang around,
or is you comin’ along?!



© 1987

One response to “Music ’been always…

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  1. “This train is bound for glory- Thiiis Traaaain”….- We should still be- “Roaring with the lions!”

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