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On My Journey: Paul Robeson's Independent Recordings

On My Journey: Paul Robeson's Independent Recordings


A 20th century renaissance man, Paul Robeson was an actor, singer, writer, scholar, activist, and intellectual with a degree from the Columbia University law school. He also suffered no fools, and his outspoken views on racism and McCarthyism eventually led to his blacklisting in the 1950s, a situation Robeson met with characteristic dignity and resilience. When no label would record him, he started his own imprint, Othello Records, and recorded some 100 tracks and released three LPs (Robeson Sings, Solid Rock, and Let Freedom Ring) between 1954 and 1958, generally to spare piano accompaniment by either Lawrence Brown or Alan Booth. Eventually Monitor Records picked up some of these tracks for a pair of LPs in 1958, Favorite Songs and Encore Robeson, which became the first dents in Robeson's situation on the blacklist, which was smashed entirely when Vanguard Records picked him up a year later. Throughout this period, Robeson found himself being harassed by the U.S. government in myriad ways, but he responded with diligence, determination, and the kind of personal grace that Senator McCarthy could only dream about. Now these independent recordings, most of them produced by Robeson's son Paul Robeson, Jr. and many recorded in friends' apartments, are fittingly a part of the Smithsonian/Folkways catalog, and a generous sampling of them is included here. Robeson's deep voice and theatrical singing style sound quaint at first, but as he tackles these traditional spirituals and folk songs, most of which concern themselves with faith, hope, and freedom, the full range of this man's vision becomes clear: one love, one world, as Bob Marley would put it over a decade later. Among the highlights here are versions of Dvor?k's "Songs My Mother Taught Me," the powerful and majestic "Takin' Names," a probably definitive "Joe Hill," and a resonant take on "No More Auction Block for Me," a song that became the melodic template for "We Shall Overcome," and speeded up, for Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," plus a wonderful version of "Hammer Song" done with the harmonica-and-guitar team of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. Robeson's performing style and approach clearly belong to the early 20th century, but his convictions, vision, and unerring and diligent activism place him intellectually at the close of it. Robeson blazed the path that Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, and many others would follow in the 1960s, and truthfully, provides a road map for 21st century agitators like Rage Against the Machine. A true American treasure and icon, Paul Robeson's work belongs at Smithsonian/Folkways, which will always keep it available and in print. ~ Steve Leggett, Rovi

  • Condition: --
    HPB condition ratings
    • New: Mint condition or still sealed (SS). Absolutely perfect in every way. New.
    • Fine/Like New (EX): No defects, little sign of use, well cared for. Plays perfectly. Close to new. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. Could be an unopened promotional or cut item. Sometimes called: mint-minus.
    • Very Good (VG): Will show some signs that it was played and otherwise handled by a previous owner who took good care of it.
    • Good (G): Attractive and well cared for, but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, scuffing or scratching, but will play almost perfectly. For vinyl: barely detectable crackles or pops.
    • Fair (FR): This item is in okay condition. For vinyl: good is not so good and the record may have low level crackles or pops when playing. CD: one or more tracks may skip.
    • Poor (P): Obviously well-worn and handled. Most vinyl collectors will not buy good or below, but some tracks on CD or vinyl will play.
    Conditions Guide
  • Format: Compact Disc
  • Sold by: --
  • Label: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
  • UPC: 093074017821
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Track listings

  • 1. On Mah Journey Now, Mount Zion
  • 2. Scandalize My Name
  • 3. Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel?
  • 4. Kaddish
  • 5. Climbing Jacob's Ladder, Spiritual
  • 6. Songs My Mother Taught Me
  • 7. Minstrel Boy, Folk Song, The
  • 8. Orphan, The (Sirotka), Song For Voice & Piano
  • 9. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
  • 10. Vi Azoi Lebt Der Keyser
  • 11. Witness
  • 12. Hammer Song
  • 13. Water Me From The Lime Rock
  • 14. Break Bread Together, Spiritual
  • 15. Amazing Grace
  • 16. Shlof, Mein Kind (Sleep, My Child), Traditional Song
  • 17. Over The Sea To Skye (A.K.A. The Skye Boat Song)
  • 18. Wanderer, Folk Song
  • 19. This Little Light Of Mine, Spiritual
  • 20. Stand Still, Jordan
  • 21. Takin' Names
  • 22. Dans Le Printemps De Mes Ann‚Es, Song For Voice & Piano
  • 23. Passing By
  • 24. Mistress Mine
  • 25. Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal
  • 26. Li'l Gal
  • 27. Kevin Barry
  • 28. Zog Nit Keynmol (Song Of The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising)
  • 29. Joe Hill, Folk Song
  • 30. Zvornost (Freedom), Folk Song
  • 31. Bear The Burden In The Heat Of The Day
  • 32. No More Auction Block For Me, Folk Song
 
HPB condition ratings
  • New: Item is brand new, unused and unmarked, in flawless condition.
  • Fine/Like New (F): No defects, little usage. May show remainder marks. Older books may show minor flaws.
  • Very Good (VG): Shows some signs of wear and is no longer fresh. Attractive. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Good (G): Average used book with all pages present. Possible loose bindings, highlighting, cocked spine or torn dust jackets. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Fair (FR): Obviously well-worn, but no text pages missing. May be without endpapers or title page. Markings do not interfere with readability. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Poor (P): All text is legible but may be soiled and have binding defects. Reading copies and binding copies fall into this category. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: Mint condition or still sealed (SS). Absolutely perfect in every way. New.
  • Fine/Like New (EX): No defects, little sign of use, well cared for. Plays perfectly. Close to new. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. Could be an unopened promotional or cut item. Sometimes called: mint-minus.
  • Very Good (VG): Will show some signs that it was played and otherwise handled by a previous owner who took good care of it.
  • Good (G): Attractive and well cared for, but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, scuffing or scratching, but will play almost perfectly. For vinyl: barely detectable crackles or pops.
  • Fair (FR): This item is in okay condition. For vinyl: good is not so good and the record may have low level crackles or pops when playing. CD: one or more tracks may skip.
  • Poor (P): Obviously well-worn and handled. Most vinyl collectors will not buy good or below, but some tracks on CD or vinyl will play.
Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: This movie is unopened and brand new.
  • Fine/Like New (EX): Near new. No defects, little sign of use. Plays perfectly. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. No skipping; no fuzzy or snowy frames in VHS.
  • Very Good (VG): Attractive and well cared for but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, but will play almost perfectly. For VHS: barely detectable distortion or very few fuzzy or snowy frames.
  • Good (G): This item is in okay condition and basically works well. There may be some minor distortion on VHS tape; slight scratching or wear on DVD.
  • Fair (FR): Basically plays, but may be obviously well-worn with some scratching or tape distortion.
  • Poor (P): Disc or tape is intact, but may be scratched or stretched. There may be skips or distortion or product defects.
Conditions Guide
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