Serpentine. Among them is "Alabama", a tribute to four children killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, an attack at a Birmingham, Alabama church by white supremacists. 0:05: God still has a way (of) bringing good (longer note for “good”) out of evil — they did not die in vain. He hated to be didactic or condescending. (I haven’t fit words for 0:42 to 1:20 yet. Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary (Original Soundtrack) John Coltrane. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiJ_0gp-T9A) Written by John Coltrane … I’m basing my analysis on Harwell’s article because, even though Coltrane probably saw the Times, it did not have as many quotes from Dr. King. Notice that you can see Alice Coltrane sitting in a chair on the left side of the screen.). Despite its title, only the first three tracks were recorded live at the Birdland club; the rest are studio tracks. 0:30: We must not despair (extra notes on “despair”), we must not become bitter. John Coltrane. well i heard mister young sing about her. Or did he simply always buy travel insurance — it was, and still is, an option on every flight — making it a coincidence that the only one we have a record of is this one? lord, i'm coming home to you It seems to me that, unlike “Psalm,” he might be embellishing some words with extra notes. Stay healthy and safe! Every song on the Ballads album, for instance, originally had lyrics. Watch the video for Alabama from John Coltrane's Ken Burns Jazz for free, and see the artwork, lyrics and similar artists. And for whatever reason, the recording is missing the first paragraph, as well as two paragraphs in the middle, where Dr. King addressed the bereaved families. Like the speech, “Alabama” shifts its tone from one of mourning to one of renewed determination for the struggle against racially motivated crimes. they pick me up when i'm feeling blue But we don’t have the texts. :lynard skynard A Love Supreme was still a year away. Check my website for updates on my research, performing and recording. ), 1:20: (Softly, mournfully — the band goes along with the rhythm that he conducts with his head). 4.7 out of 5 stars 5. That was the day that I decided I had to write about Coltrane. However, on the third piece, I distinctly hear Coltrane say on his saxophone “The drum thing” at the end of the opening (2:07) and closing (7:08). Check out Alabama (Live At Birdland Jazzclub, New York City, NY, 10/18/1963) by John Coltrane on Amazon Music. here i come alabama Because it’s difficult to fit the melody to the words, some people have said to me, “Maybe it’s not a syllabic setting — maybe it’s a vague impression of Dr. King’s speech. But one Hoyt Harwell wrote a more detailed report for the Associated Press (AP), the independent news cooperative that covers events for the many small newspapers (at that time about 1,800 of them) that couldn’t afford to employ a staff of reporters. And it may be the only time that he used someone else’s words — as far as we know, from this point on, whenever he used words to help compose a piece, they were words that he wrote himself. now we all did what we could do Ever since it became known, partly through my work, that on “Psalm,” Coltrane is reading his poem “A Love Supreme” on the saxophone, people have been trying to find words to other pieces of his. Studio 41 at 15 Vanderbilt Avenue, CBS studios at Grand Central Terminal. Dr. Clayborne Carson, in his collection of King’s speeches titled A Call to Conscience, notes that those portions were cut out of the original tape for a radio broadcast, and apparently discarded. We’ve covered a lot of ground in the previous two installments of our look into A Love Supreme. Besides “Psalm,” are there in fact other examples of Coltrane “speaking words” to us on the saxophone? Scrobble songs and get recommendations on other tracks and artists. The last three notes at 1:19 and 2:43 and 8:59 say “Attaining.” The last six notes at 2:54 and 10:30 say “Thank you Lord” and “Amen.” After that he plays freely — please listen carefully and notice the difference between his “chanting” and his free soloing. Admittedly, we don’t know which newspapers he saw, but in those two months he also had two separate weeks off, and I’m willing to bet that he came across this article himself while traveling or while at home in New York (in Manhattan then and now, there were shops that sold out-of-town newspapers), or a friend showed it to him or even mailed it to him. Install the free Online Radio Box application for your smartphone and listen to your favorite radio stations online - wherever you are! a southern man don't need him around anyhow Please understand, this could mean nothing, but I think it’s worth considering. On the TV performance he does the same. Without knowing the texts involved, how can one determine the likely relationship between text and music? (This appears on page 79 of Ashley’s 2002 book A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album.) But here’s the answer: I found that excerpts of the speech were quoted in many newspapers around the USA on Sept. 19, 1963, the day after the funeral. None of the other lines of the text fit so well to the music. As I’ve already noted, that’s the way John was. But Coltrane moved around so much that he could easily have seen one of the hundreds of papers that carried Harwell’s piece. All of this should not be a surprise. The melody is supposedly based on the speech patterns of Martin Luther King, Jr's eulogy. It was written in response to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing on September 15, 1963, an attack by the Ku Klux Klan in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four African-American girls. In 2020, many people who had previously been silent finally had enough and made themselves heard, on the streets and online. Alabama (John Coltrane song) "Alabama" is a composition written by John Coltrane that appears on his album Live at Birdland (1963). This concludes my Deep Dive series at WBGO, as I turn my focus to shorter, more informal pieces that I’ll post elsewhere online. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes and was at the forefront of free jazz. And as we’ll see, “Alabama” is the top candidate for that. lord, i'm coming home to you In 2020, many people who had previously been silent finally had enough and made themselves heard, on the streets and online. And the style of the piece absolutely does sound like a recitation. Let’s start there. Thanks to youtube, however, you can still hear him perform. Live at Birdland is an album by jazz musician John Coltrane, released in January 1964 by Impulse! No Comments; 0 Tags; Moonlight and magnolia, starlight in your hair All the world a dream come true Did it really happen, was I really there, was I really there with you? lord, i'm coming home to you In general, when Coltrane is playing fast notes, or quick little embellishments, we can assume that he’s not thinking of words. So I began to listen again, and immediately I heard Coltrane start by saying: “They did not die in vain”! The John Coltrane Quartet’s “Alabama” is a strange song, incongruous with the rest of the album on which it appears. I should add, in response to some questions, that I had heard the piece many times before that day in 1978 when I suddenly understood the last movement and decided to write about it. "Alabama" is a song written by John Coltrane that appears on his album Live at Birdland. There are also pieces somewhere between the above two options: music that follows the mood or flow or phraseology of the words — but that makes no attempt to represent the words one syllable at a time, nor breaks into full-blown song. and they've been known to pick a song or two For example, as in “Psalm,” the music can be a syllabic setting of the poem. The evidence that they worked from notes is that they came up with slightly different versions of what Dr. King said. :lynard skynard. and i think its a sin, yes But after that, the style is not the chanting style. Blue Train (Expanded Edition) John Coltrane. sweet home alabama As I continued to listen with fresh ears, I thought I heard him jumping around to different parts of the article, and even repeating some phrases. (We know what he said because we have his written text.) And of course, it’s possible that John added some words of his own, or slightly reworded things. I’m certain that Coltrane is chanting a text here, even though I haven’t fully figured it out yet. In this era when it has been necessary to affirm that Black Lives Matter, John Coltrane’s powerful piece “Alabama” feels more relevant and urgent than ever. John Coltrane, photographed in his backyard in Queens, New York in 1963. The video below shows the John Coltrane Quartet playing “Alabama.” In fact, we might call these “Pieces with Hidden Texts.”, When our late friend Delorme asked John about poems, his full response was, “…certain pieces on the album Crescent are also poems, like ‘Wise One,’ ‘Lonnie’s Lament,’ ‘The Drum Thing.’”. It was written in response to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing on September 15, 1963, an attack by the Ku Klux Klan in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four girls. Of course, The New York Times and other major papers had their own reports, and typically they quoted two or three sentences of Dr. King’s eulogy. After all, this was very likely the first time that he set words to a saxophone line. He’s also a pianist whose latest album — Transcendent, a collaboration with guitarist Ray Suhy — is out on Sunnyside Records. sweet home alabama Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube. where the skies are so blue Is it worthwhile hunting around to find the poem that inspired “Wise One”? This is the longest that I ever wrote but certain pieces on the album Crescent are also poems… I sometimes proceed in this manner because it’s a good approach to musical composition.”. Alabama (Live At Birdland Jazzclub, New York City, NY, 10/18/1963) John Coltrane. I also suspect that one reason the opening of the tenor solo on “Acknowledgement” is similar from take to take is that he had words in mind, say, from 0:59 to 1:15 on the original album version. well, i heard ole neil put her down I hope you can live with this unfinished resolution about “Alabama.” You can be sure that I’ll continue to think about and research this profound piece of music. In fact, I thought we’d only need two, but whenever I take a Deep Dive, I always come up with “pearls” I hadn’t anticipated. He did not tell anyone in the studio, including the members of his legendary quartet McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison, what the tune is about. He said that he liked to write his own poems, and he meant it. Well, John’s pianist McCoy Tyner, whom we lost this year, once told Ashley Kahn that the rhythms of the piece were based on the rhythms of a speech by Dr. King that John saw printed in a newspaper. “Wise One” and “Lonnie’s Lament” are both beautiful ballads, actually quite similar in mood. In this era when it has been necessary to affirm that Black Lives Matter, John Coltrane’s powerful piece “Alabama” feels more relevant and urgent than ever. Well, there is surely enough there to work with, and he had two months to think about it, work on it, and reorder the excerpts. Third, it seems that if and when it was broadcast, it was many years later, most likely, not even during Dr. King’s all-too-short lifetime, but excerpted in the many radio and film documentaries that came later. lord they get me off so much Between that day and the recording, he performed in Cleveland and New York City, toured Europe, and performed in Philadelphia. The latter appeared in many papers, but I chose to reproduce the one from High Point, N.C., the city where Coltrane grew up; his family moved there when he was an infant. Lewis Porter is the author of acclaimed books on John Coltrane, Lester Young and jazz history, and has taught at institutions including Rutgers and The New School. $7.99. Was he concerned that there might be more violence to come? Coltrane, a genius from jazz’s golden age, died in 1967 at the age of 40. It winds its way toward a theme but always stops just short, repeatedly approaching something like coherence only to turn away at the last moment. $9.49. That is not at all what is going on in “Psalm.”, Pieces Inspired by Words: The late French journalist Michel Delorme, having seen Coltrane’s poem in the liner notes to A Love Supreme, asked, “Do you often write poems?” Coltrane replied (in my translation): “From time to time; I try. $1.29. That’s as far as I’ve gotten at the moment. And, on a later album, “Attaining” is perhaps the closest to “Psalm” of any piece I know. where the skies are so blue ,qq 40884815, Download John Coltrane - Alabama free mp3, a southern man don't need him around anyhow, and they've been known to pick a song or two, LOCOMOTION - ENHANCED CD VERSION;1996 DIGITAL REMASTER, MY FAVORITE THINGS (LIVE AT THE HALF NOTE '63), STORM (EUROVISION 2019 - ESTONIA / KARAOKE VERSION), ONLY TO BE WITH YOU (LIVE AT HARMONIE BONN, 20.10.2005). Just this past June, Ismail Muhammad, a critic from Oakland, Calif., wrote in The Paris Review that he totally “gets” the saxophone scream at the end of the recording: “Sometimes, you’d rather scream and storm than have to explain anything at all.”. Personally, I do — why discount what he said? But Coltrane’s message comes through loud and clear. 0:15: (The) innocent blood of these little girls may well serve as a redemptive (low notes) force for this city. I too would like to believe that Tyner was right about this. I’m not yet certain how he rearranged the words. now watergate does not bother me Then the sound of John Coltrane’s saxophone writhes on top: mournful, melismatic, menacing. i miss alabamy once again The lyrical, wide ranging melody of “Wise One,” to choose one example, is nothing like the chanting back and forth on a few notes found in “Psalm,” and he plays it differently the second time (starting at 1:37). Also, it sounds to me like Coltrane is chanting something on “Song of Praise,” at the beginning on the short 1964 version that was issued years later (significantly, recorded at the same sessions as most of Crescent), and on the originally released version from 3:40 to 5:40 (the theme statement after the long bass solo, on The John Coltrane Quartet Plays). Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane was deeply affected by the crime and recorded Alabama just a few months afterward, along with the members of his quartet, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones. The Gentle Side Of John Coltrane John Coltrane. Or a poem can indeed become the lyrics for a song. sweet home alabama 2), A Deep Dive into John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme' by His Biographer, Lewis Porter (Pt. now muscle shoals has got the swampers sweet home alabama This is interesting! Probably not, for two significant reasons: First, as we’ll explore here, “Alabama” is the only known instance where Coltrane took someone else’s poem or text and played it on his saxophone. See the first half of the Times article and compare it with Harwell’s story. And the entire sax part sounds like a chant. 4.9 out of 5 stars 38. Since then, people have been searching without success for a text that will fit the melody in that way. well, i hope neil young will remember Stream ad-free or purchase CD's and MP3s now on Amazon.com. Although originally issued on the long player Live At Birdland (1963), “Alabama” is one of two sides (the other being “Your Lady”) from a mid-November, 1963 studio session. yea, yea montgomery's got the answer I take it that Coltrane means he likes to “proceed” from the poem to the music — that is, to write the poem first, as he did for “Psalm.” And he finds that to be a “good approach” to composing, because instead of abstractly poking around and waiting for a melody to hit you, a poem can lead in several ways to a piece of music. A Deep Dive into an immortal song, recorded 57 years ago. Unless Coltrane’s son, the noted saxophonist Ravi, discovers clearly titled, handwritten pieces of paper with these poems, we will never ever know all the words Coltrane had in mind for these pieces. But in hunting for words to Coltrane’s compositions, people have often confused three different musical situations: Songs with Lyrics, Pieces Inspired by Words, and Pieces with Hidden Texts. In short, I think we need to forget about the theory that Coltrane “learned” the speech from the radio. The answer is simple: by listening! John William Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. sweet home alabama. In fact, he never even told anyone that the piece was a response to the sick and brutal Birmingham bombing of Sept. 15, though it seems obvious — why else would a piece be named “Alabama” so close to that heinous and criminal event? It might seem that instrumental music, lacking words, would not be the most effective medium for a statement of outrage. | Source: Getty Images. lord, i'm coming home to you sweet home alabama tell the truth My book John Coltrane: His Life and Music begins with A Love Supreme. Well, first of all, do we believe Tyner or not? (In fact, I wonder if Coltrane was more shaken up by the news of the bombing than he let on. On Monday, Sept. 16, 1963, the day after the bombing, he mailed a $100,000 Mutual of Omaha Travel Accident Insurance Policy to his mother in Philadelphia, before taking off on a flight to his next gig in Cleveland. Then again, he only had these isolated quotes, not the full text of the speech, so it was up to him to make them into something coherent. What do we know about its genesis, and why is there this pervasive opinion that it has a hidden text? So what does this say about the claim that Coltrane based “Alabama” on Dr. King’s words? He was in Buffalo, N.Y., on the day of the bombing. John Coltrane - tenor sax McCoy Tyner - piano Jimmy Garrison - bass Elvin Jones - drums "Alabama" is a tribute to four children killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, an attack at a Birmingham, Alabama church by white supremecists on September 15, 1963. Listen online to John Coltrane - Alabama and see which albums it appears on. So the fact that he recorded a piece called “Alabama” soon after the ghastly 1963 church bombing in Birmingham shows that he too had enough. The third and fourth phrases are entirely composed of the notes Bb, C, D and Eb, played up and down, in and out, with C repeated at the end. Coltrane is a saxophonist best known for writing and recording the song, "Alabama" which spoke to people's hearts following a devastating event sparked by racism. big wheels keep on turning. But please don’t waste your time trying to fit existing poems to this music. sweet home alabama The critic Francis Davis spoke with Tyner and Jones and learned that Coltrane did not tell them the inspiration for the piece, or even its name, when they recorded it in the studio on Nov. 18, 1963. Recording session on March 4, 1963. Inserted into Coltrane’s 1964 album Live at Birdland, it’s a studio track that confounds the virtuosic post-bop bliss of the album’s first three tracks, live recordings that include a jittery rendition of Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro Blue.”. A Deep Dive into an immortal song, recorded 57 years ago. well i heard mister young sing about her The band played five takes of the moving piece of music, of which the last one found its way into … Song information for Alabama - John Coltrane on AllMusic. On the afternoon of November 18, 1963 John Coltrane went into Rudy Van Gelder’s Studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ and recorded the tune Alabama. carry me home to see my kin. One day in 1978, I “heard” Coltrane reciting the poem in Part IV, “Psalm,” and it blew my mind. The answer is Yes! For their help with this post, I would like to thank the following kind people: Meghan Weaver, Research Assistant at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University; Steve Rowland, co-producer (with Larry Abrams) of the award-winning 5-hour radio series Tell Me How Long Trane’s Been Gone; and Medd Typ Persson for our discussion. And his article has more substantial quotes. On this tragic date, four members of the Ku Klux Klan planted at least fifteen sticks of dynamite … Stream ad-free or purchase CD's and MP3s now on Amazon.com. Playing in this extremely limited range is not singing a melody; it’s chanting, unmistakably. sweet home alabama 'Alabama' is a composition written by John Coltrane that appears on his album Live at Birdland (1963). i miss alabamy once again. sweet home alabama in birmingham they love the governor So, let’s add “The Drum Thing,” “Attaining,” “Song of Praise” and possibly “Acknowledgement” to the list of pieces where Coltrane chants his poetry on the saxophone. If I’m right, this and only this article — not a complete transcript, not an audio recording — is what Coltrane had access to in the two months between the funeral on Sept. 18 and the recording of “Alabama” on Nov. 18. But what about “Alabama”? and the governor's true So Tyner knew before Dec. 7 that this was a response to the bombing in Birmingham on Sept. 15 — and it’s easy to imagine him talking with John about it, and learning that it was based on a newspaper report of Dr. King’s moving eulogy for the four murdered girls. John Coltrane’s Civil Rights elegy “Alabama” first appeared on Live at Birdland (1964), though it was recorded in Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on November 18, 1963 – three months after the dramatic events surrounding the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing of September 15, 1963. Songs with Lyrics are the most straightforward. John Coltrane composed Alabama as a reflection on Dr Martin Luther King's eulogy for four little African-American girls murdered by the KKK in Birmingham Alabama on Sep 15,1963. This is followed by the improvisation, marked by Garrison’s walking bass. And if it were just a vague impression, why not embellish it, add a note here and there, as he always did on every ballad he ever played? where the skies are so blue John Coltrane quotes God breathes through us so completely... so gently we hardly feel it... yet, it is our everything. sweet home alabama For just one example, notice that the first phrase ends with three Cs (at 0:11). does your conscience bother you Harwell had written a few more paragraphs at the end, describing the funeral, but not all papers included that part, and anyway that part had no additional quotations from Dr. King. big wheels keep on turning Pieces with Hidden Texts: The third category concerns pieces that involve “reading” some words, like “Psalm,” with a one-syllable-at-a-time chanting style. The reporters wrote down what they heard: in those days, taking quick notes, sometimes using the “shorthand” system, was required. John Coltrane - tenor sax McCoy Tyner - piano Jimmy Garrison - bass Elvin Jones - drums "Alabama" is a tribute to four children killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, an attack at a Birmingham, Alabama church by white supremecists on September 15, 1963. So even though we don’t know the text of “Wise One” — and as we’ll see shortly, according to Coltrane, there was one — we can feel sure in saying it’s not a syllabic setting of a poem. The poem had to be personal to him, to be truly one with the music he was writing — not from someone else’s experience. But I don’t think that’s significant. John Coltrane. This is a section of Steve Rowland's radio documentary "Tell Me How Long Trane's Been Gone". singing songs about the southland While he wasn’t known as an overtly political artist, he played in a number of civil rights benefit events and at anti-war rallies. Coltrane was inspired by Martin Luther King’s speech, delivered in the church sanctuary three days after the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, and patterned his saxophone playing on it. lordy The album's original … Coltrane was a man who chose to keep his political opinions to himself; he once famously declined to give an opinion when pressed about hearing Malcolm X speak. The piece is approximately five minutes in length. I also heard him adding notes at the ends of some phrases. singing songs about the southland. Check out Alabama by John Coltrane on Amazon Music. where the skies are so blue oh sweet home baby But he transcended the protest music of the 1960s. Records. McCoy Tyner and John Coltrane at New Jersey's Van Gelder studios in 1963. Credit Joe Alper / Joe Alper Photo Collection LLC, Chuck Stewart / Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, A Deep Dive into John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme' by His Biographer, Lewis Porter (Pt. 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