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Selma Song - Right! Right! (Len Chandler)

11 Jan 98 - 11:32 PM (#19083)
Subject: Selma March Song
From: Bo

I just watched show called Impact on CNN about a black white confrontation in Selma Alabama. Portions of the show had a march in the audio that I would love to know all the words to.

Something like:

Pick em up and lay em down, right, right, Pick em up and lay em down, right, right, All the way from selma town right, right.

Other references to the town include "Bloody Sunday" (the name given the event in the papers) "The Edmund Pettus Bridge" (the bridge where white police officers beat the marchers).

Anything people know of in the folk record would be appreciated,


12 Jan 98 - 12:50 AM (#19086)
Subject: RE: Selma Song
From: Joe Offer

Hmmm. Not sure if I understand what you're looking for, Bo. Sing Out! published a songbook by Guy & Candie Carawan called "Sing For Freedom," which is quite good, and Smithsonian Folkways came out with a companion CD with the same name. There's a 2-disc set from Folk Era called "Freedom is a Constant Struggle - Songs of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement," which is mostly white folksingers of the 60's singing songs about the civil rights movement. Smithsonian Folkways recently released a 2-CD set with lots of live recordings from civil rights events. All of these are very good. That should at least give you an idea of what's available.
-Joe Offer-

12 Jan 98 - 12:59 AM (#19087)
Subject: RE: Selma Song
From: Bo

28 Feb 12 - 01:37 PM (#3314672)
Subject: RE: Selma Song
From: GUEST,Mandi

I recently heard that same song that Bo was talking about. It is called Right, Right. I do not, however, know who it is by and i would love to know. If you have any info please let me know.


28 Feb 12 - 01:42 PM (#3314676)
Subject: RE: Selma Song
From: GUEST,999

The song was written by Len Chandler.

28 Feb 12 - 01:47 PM (#3314678)
Subject: RE: Selma Song
From: GUEST,999

I don't know how to copy it.,+right,+right,+Pick+em+up+and+lay+

28 Feb 12 - 04:56 PM (#3314784)
Subject: ADD: Right! Right! (Len Chandler)
From: Joe Offer

Ah, I had the right book in my 1998 post, but didn't know the title of the song and didn't find it. Good job, 999!

(Len Chandler)

Pick 'em up and lay 'em down Right! Right!
Pick 'em up and lay 'em down Right! Right!
Pick 'em up and lay 'em down Right! Right!
All the way from Selma town. Right! Right!

Oh the mud was deep, Right! Right!
The hills were steep, Right, etc.
Now we've made some level ground
Let Wallace hear the sound

I've been walking so long
I've put blisters on the street
Well I caught the Freedom fever
And it settled in my feet

Did the rain come down
Well I thought I would drown
Then I thought of Sheriff Jim
Something said you'd better swim

Jim Letherer's* leg got left
But he's still in the fight
Been walking day and night
Jim's left leg is all right

I been walking so long
I got blisters on my feet
Make me want to skip a beat
I been walking so long
My feet done turn to wheels
I don't think no more of riding
I disremember how it feels
Is freedom all.....
Right! Right!

Copyright 1965 by Fall River Music.

Notes from Len Chandler: *There was a guy named Jim Letherer who had one leg. He went all the way. There was a picture of us in the NY Times and it said something about the last leg of the march. Jim said, "Hey, Len, make me a verse."

We were marching along and some old Army guys were calling cadence -- Hup, hip, to your your left, right, left. I started thinking that left isn't a thing that we want to get. I mean we want to keep up...we want to go along...we want to go to Montgomery which is not getting left. Right is an affirmative statement, so I said whey don't we accent on the right foot. And so a-right, right, and then you can put together verses and the answers from the group would be right...right...right. And so I started singing...
-Len Chandler-

from Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Songs of the Freedom Movement, by Guy and Candie Carawan (Oak Publications, 1968), page 159

MIDI available on request.

Note: in 1990, Sing Out! published a book titled Sing For Freedom: The story of the Civil Rights Movement through its songs, edited and compiled by Guy and Candie Carawan. This newer book includes the entire text of Freedom Is a Constant Struggle, plus the 1963 Oak Publications book titled We Shall Overcome: Songs of the Southern Freedom Movement, also by Guy and Candie Carawan. "Right! Right!" appears on page 259 of the newer book.

28 Feb 12 - 05:03 PM (#3314792)
Subject: RE: Selma Song - Right! Right! (Len Chandler)
From: GUEST,999

Great, Joe. I knew it was Len's because I heard him sing it at Gerde's way back. If you'd be so kind, HOW do you copy PDF so it can show up on Mudcat? Then I'll do that and stop making youse guys do all the hard work. Message would be fine, but for a few others as well as me, on this thread would be even better.

28 Feb 12 - 05:50 PM (#3314800)
Subject: RE: Selma Song - Right! Right! (Len Chandler)
From: Joe Offer

Hi, 999 -
The page you linked to was not a PDF, since the book is still under copyright protection. Your only option in that case is to type out the entire text....except that I had the book, so I scanned and OCR'd it.
If you have a PDF, you can sometimes use Adobe reader to copy the text directly out of the file and paste into Mudcat, but it doesn't usually work that easily. I often copy an image of the excerpt and past it ("paste page" command) into Microsoft Office Document Imaging, and then OCR it.
But back to the song - I've never heard it and couldn't find a recording or YouTube of this. I don't imaging my transcribing a MIDI would do it justice. This page says the song was performed by Lula Joe Williams on the PBS American Experience program titled Soundtrack for a Revolution. I ordered that DVD from Hope it has the song in its entirety.


28 Feb 12 - 06:11 PM (#3314809)
Subject: RE: Selma Song - Right! Right! (Len Chandler)
From: GUEST,999

Thank you very much, Joe. I will be in touch via MC message to tell you a few stories that I think you will enjoy.

Joanne Crabtree, a Mudcat member, knows much more about Len than I ever did, and I have a few stories to say myself, mostly second-hand in my case, but not wrong. He chewed me out the first time we ever met.

Len was like that, and after all these years I still think Foster was a great songwriter.


28 Feb 12 - 07:08 PM (#3314822)
Subject: RE: Selma Song - Right! Right! (Len Chandler)
From: Joe Offer

You're in good company, 999.

I think Stephen Foster was a great songwriter, too - and John Roberts chewed me out royally for that....


28 Feb 12 - 07:47 PM (#3314842)
Subject: RE: Selma Song - Right! Right! (Len Chandler)
From: Bill D

FYI- about getting a (C&P version) of a text from such a page.

Although it is a wee bit tedious, you can do a screen capture.. (I use MWSnap (free..and great). Then you can print the image and finally, do an OCR of the printed text....if you are set up to do OCR.\

Often, the image may be all one needs, but a LONG text is easier to OCR.