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Origins: Free at Last/I Thank God I'm Free at Last

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Dicho (Frank Staplin) 11 Feb 02 - 09:07 PM
Rolfyboy6 11 Feb 02 - 09:30 PM
masato sakurai 11 Feb 02 - 09:32 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 11 Feb 02 - 09:45 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 11 Feb 02 - 09:52 PM
masato sakurai 11 Feb 02 - 10:38 PM
Joe Offer 27 Apr 17 - 10:43 PM
Joe Offer 27 Apr 17 - 11:01 PM
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Subject: ADD: I THANK GOD I'M FREE AT LAST
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 09:07 PM

I THANK GOD I'M FREE AT LAST

CHORUS:
Free at las'- free at las'-
I thank God I'm free at las'-
Free at las'- free at las'-
I thank God I'm free at las'!

Way down yonder in de graveyard walk,
I thank God I'm free at las'-
Me an' my Jesus gwineter meet an' talk.-
I thank God I'm free at las'-
Free at las'- Free at las'-
O I thank God I'm free at las'!

On a my knees when the light passed by,
I thank God I'm free at las'-
Thought my soul would rise and fly,
I thank God I'm free at last.
Free at las'- free at las'-
I thank God I'm free at las'!

Some of these mornings, bright and fair,
I thank God I'm free at las'-
Goin' meet King Jesus in the air,
I thank God I'm free at las'.
Free at las'- free at las'-
I thank God I'm free at las'.

John W. Work, 1940, American Negro Songs and Spirituals, p. 197 with music.
The antecedent to several songs used in labor and equality demonstrations.
@religion @spiritual


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: I THANK GOD I'M FREE AT LAST
From: Rolfyboy6
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 09:30 PM

Thanks Dicho, several older women used to come out on the picket line in that frozen winter of '65 and they sang this song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: I THANK GOD I'M FREE AT LAST
From: masato sakurai
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 09:32 PM

This reminds me of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
~Masato


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: I THANK GOD I'M FREE AT LAST
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 09:45 PM

Lyr. Add: YOU SHALL BE FREE

Nigger be nigger, whatever he do:
Tie red ribbon 'round toe of his shoe,
Jerk his vest on over his coat,
Snatch his britches up 'round his throat,
Singin' high stepper, Lawd, you shall be free.

Great big nigger , settin' on log,
One eye on trigger, one eye on hog.
Gun say "blop!" hog said "sip!"
An' he jumped on de hog wid all his grip,
Singin' high-stepper, Lawd, you shall be free.

Shout to glory, Lawd, you shall be free!
Shout to glory, Lawd, you shall be free!
Shout, mourner, Lawd, you shall be free!
Shout when de good Lawd set you free!

I went down to hog-eye town,
Dey sot me down to table;
I et so much dat hog-eye grease,
'Till de grease run out my nabel.
Run 'long home, Miss Hog-eye,
Singin' high-stepper, Lawd, you shall be free.

Nigger an' rooster had a fight,
Rooster knock nigger clean out o' sight,
Nigger say "Rooster, dat's all right,
Meet you at hen-house do' tomorrow night,
Singin' high-stepper, Lawd, you shall be free.

Two barrels apples, three barrels cheese;
When I git to heaven, goin' shout on my knees,
Shout to glory, Lawd, you shall be free,
Shout to glory, mourner, you shall be free.

With the crokus sack you shall be free,
With the crokus sack you shall be free.
Shout to glory, Lawd, you shall be free,
When de good Lawd set you free.

A nigger went up town actin' a hoss;
De jedge he found him ten an' cost.
Shout, mourner, you shall be free,
When de good Lawd shall set you free!

One of the best examples of the ironic, sharp, bitter wit of the Negro. The song is a parody of the "Thank God I'm Free At Last" type of song. The Negro was free by law but subject to severe limitations and ridicule. Only death would set him "free." The dress of the blackface minstrels is described in the first stanza. The second and fourth appear in several Negro children's and nonsense songs. Some of these songs have been preserved, but with the exception of those sung by prison farm inmates, have largely disappeared from use.
Odum, H. W. and Johnson, G. B., 1925 (1976), The Negro and His Songs, Negro Universities Press, pp. 233-234.
@Negro @protest


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: I THANK GOD I'M FREE AT LAST
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 09:52 PM

As Masato suggests, King's speeches often drew on old songs, only natural for a minister. I presume that there would be a compilation of his sermons and speeches, but I have not looked for it. It would be interesting to pick out other songs he drew on.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: I THANK GOD I'M FREE AT LAST
From: masato sakurai
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 10:38 PM

"Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" was his closing phrase (the text and MP3 recording are HERE). I have a CD (MLK: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Tapes, Jerden Records JRCD 7021), a video and a book analyzing Dr. King's speeches (not in front of me at present).

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: I Thank God I'm Free at Last
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Apr 17 - 10:43 PM

Free At Last

DESCRIPTION: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God a'mighty, I'm free at last!" "One of these mornings bright and fair, I'm gonna put on my wings and try the air." "Old Satan's mad because we're glad...." "I wonder what old Satan's grumblin' bout...."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1922 (Brown)
KEYWORDS: religious freedom nonballad floatingverses Devil
FOUND IN: US(SE,So)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
BrownIII 624, "Old Satan's Mad" (5 text, of which the short "A" text is probably "Free at Last"; "B" is a variation on "Down By the Riverside (Study War No More)"; "C" has the "Old Satan's Mad" stanza but a "climbing Zion's walls" chorus; D" is an unidentifiable fragment perhaps related to "I Belong to that Band; and "E" is also a fragment, perhaps of "Free At Last")
BrownSchinhanV 624, "Old Satan's Mad" (3 tunes plus text excerpts, with the "A" tune being this and the others uncertain)
Randolph 302, "The Devil's Mad and I Am Glad" (1 fragment, possibly this one)
Silber-CivWarFull, pp. 297-298, "Free at Last" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 368, "Free At Last" (1 text)

Roud #10974
RECORDINGS:
Dock Reed & Vera Hall Ward, "Free At Last" (on NFMAla2) (on Babylon)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "All My Sins Been Taken Away" (lyrics)
cf. "Hand Me Down My Walkin' Cane" (lyrics)
NOTES: The versions of this all seem rather fragmentary, and some may be floating bits of other songs. The line "Satan is mad and I am glad" seems to be about as characteristic of this song as anyrhing, but it also floats. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
File: FSWB368A

Go to the Ballad Search form
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Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
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The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

There are no lyrics for this song in the DT.

Here's a recording by the Blind Boys of Alabama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJbPKDmxkC4

And by Kim & Reggie Harris: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mPQ_hKhrTw

And here's The Waves of Joy of Charlotte NC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pW0e81nOl0


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Subject: ADD Version: Free at Last
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Apr 17 - 11:01 PM

FREE AT LAST

CHORUS
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God a'mighty, I'm free at last!
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God a'mighty, I'm free at last!


One of these mornings bright and fair,
Thank God a'mighty, I'm free at last!
I'm gonna put on my wings and try the air,
Thank God a'mighty, I'm free at last!

Old Satan's mad because we're glad,
Thank God a'mighty, we're free at last!
He missed a crowd he thought he had,
Thank God a'mighty, we're free at last!

I wonder what old Satan's grumblin''bout,
Thank God a'mighty, we're free at last!
'Cause he's chained in hell, and can't get out,
Thank God a'mighty, we're free at last!

Source: Folksinger's Wordbook (Silber & Silber, 1973) page 368


E             A       E
Free at last! Free at last!
A             E          B       E
Thank God a'mighty, I'm free at last!
E             A       E
Free at last! Free at last!
                         B       E
Thank God a'mighty, I'm free at last!

Verses:
E       A    E                   A
One of these mornings bright and fair,
B
Thank God a'mighty, I'm free at last!
          E
I'm gonna put on my wings and try the air,
A             E          B       E
Thank God a'mighty, I'm free at last!


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