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Lyr Req: Elegy (Plain Black Boy) (Oscar Brown Jr)

10 Oct 98 - 12:59 AM (#41105)
Subject: Note to DWDITTY
From: Zorro

The only other thing I remember about the Oscar Brown album is another son called "Sam's Life." "Plain black boy" may have not been the title of the song I'm seekin' Your help will be appreciated


10 Oct 98 - 05:11 AM (#41117)
Subject: RE: Note to DWDITTY
From: DWDitty

Zorro,

SAM'S LIFE appears on "Between Heaven and Hell" circa 1961. The song you are seeking is called ELEGY (PLAIN BLACK BOY). It is a version of Gwendolyn Brooks' poem OF DEWITT WILLIAMS ON HIS WAY TO LINCOLN CEMETERY describing the "landmarks" of Southside Chicago life. "Drive him past the pool hall/drive him past the show/blind within his casket/yeah, but maybe he'll know"

I will try to transcribe all the words and post over the weekend. Thanks for bringing me back to, without a doubt, my all-time favorite artist.


10 Oct 98 - 06:50 AM (#41119)
Subject: RE: Note to DWDITTY
From: Zorro

Strange, when I woke up this AM the title "Between Heaven and Hell" came to me. If O.B. Jr. wrote the lyrics to the songs on that album he rates high with me too. Thanks for your trouble.


11 Oct 98 - 06:56 AM (#41212)
Subject: Lyr Add: ELEGY (PLAIN BLACK BOY) (Brooks/Brown)
From: DWDitty

Zorro,
I think these are pretty close. There are a couple of words I am guessing at. Feel free to change as you see fit.

ELEGY (PLAIN BLACK BOY) Words, Gwendolyn Brooks. Music, Oscar Brown, Jr.

He was born in Alabama, bred in Illinois
He was nothin' but a plain black boy
Swing Low, sweet chariot
Nothin' but a plain black boy

Drive him past the pool hall
Drive him past the show
Blind within his casket
But maybe he will know
Down through 47th Street
And underneath the L
Northwest corner of Prairie
That he loved so well
Swing Low, sweet, sweet chariot
Nothin' but a poor black boy

Intrum. - piano
Don't forget the dance halls
The Whirlwind and Savoy
Where he picked his women
And drank his liquid joy
Born in Alabama, bred in Illinois
He was nothin' but a poor black boy
Swing Low, sweet, sweet chariot
Nothin' but a poor black boy
(slower)Swing Low, sweet, sweet chariot
Nothin' but a poor black boy


11 Oct 98 - 07:47 AM (#41215)
Subject: RE: Note to DWDITTY
From: Zorro

Many THANKS, DWD.. I had that album at one time but have moved 2-3 times since and now someone else must have it. You are appreciated and I hope I can return the favor soon. Zorro


19 Jul 06 - 01:05 AM (#1786932)
Subject: Lyr Add: OF DE WITT WILLIAMS... (Gwendolyn Brooks)
From: Jim Dixon

Copied from PoetryFoundation.org:

OF DE WITT WILLIAMS ON HIS WAY TO LINCOLN CEMETERY
by Gwendolyn Brooks

He was born in Alabama.
He was bred in Illinois.
He was nothing but a
Plain black boy.

Swing low swing low sweet sweet chariot.
Nothing but a plain black boy.

Drive him past the Pool Hall.
Drive him past the Show.
Blind within his casket,
But maybe he will know.

Down through Forty-seventh Street:
Underneath the L,
And Northwest Corner, Prairie,
That he loved so well.

Don't forget the Dance Halls—
Warwick and Savoy,
Where he picked his women, where
He drank his liquid joy.

Born in Alabama.
Bred in Illinois.
He was nothing but a
Plain black boy.

Swing low swing low sweet sweet chariot.
Nothing but a plain black boy.

[Oscar Brown, Jr., set this poem to music and called it ELEGY (PLAIN BLACK BOY). It's on the album "Kicks! The Best of Oscar Brown, Jr."]