Monday, January 19, 2009

‘Abraham, Martin and John’

Today was a first for UBM-TV. I posted a video clip of a song I do not like. (Now embedded below.)

I know that “Abraham, Martin and John” is an American pop classic. Dion had a major hit with it in 1968, and the tune has been recorded by Harry Belafonte, Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Mahalia Jackson, Eartha Kitt, Kenny Rogers... even Moms Mabley.

Am I the only one who thinks “Abraham, Martin and John” is a bad song? Mawkish and dull? Emotionally cheap?

17 comments:

Mon-sewer Paul Regret said...

No, you aren't the only one.

Jeff said...

Is it really considered an American pop classic?

It's a terrible song. But if you want to find a classic, unsung rock song, seek out the flip side - "Daddy Rollin' (In Your Arms). Now that is some serious, classic rock 'n roll.

Undercover Black Man said...

Is it really considered an American pop classic?

Well, if it keeps getting recorded by A-list pop singers, I think that makes it a classic. Or maybe the word I want is "standard."

Kellybelle said...

Yeah, I guess it is a little sappy. No sappier than Garth Brooks singing American Pie at the InaugFest, though. And I was so Obamanated I sang along at the top oh my lungs to the horror of my loved ones.

I guess if you were aroud in the '60s for all that hope deferred it stirs ya. We're too young to understand.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ I think there's also a longstanding debate about whether "American Pie" is a good song or a horrible song. I've always liked it.

quirkychick said...

When I hear it I feel manipulated.

I love American Pie probably because I was about 10 when it was played on the radio and I knew all the words. I still do!

Geneva Girl said...

Moms Mabley?!? No, I'm with you. That song isn't so hot. The way he started the song, though, I thought he was going to sing Jean, the theme to the movie The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

On the other hand, I LOVE American Pie! That's a happy childhood memory. We used to sing that at the top of our lungs on the playground.

John B. said...

A local paper once had a poll, "Hell's Hit Parade," about the worst songs ever recorded. "Abraham, Martin & John" was on the list. So was Elvis's "In The Ghetto" and Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey."

Undercover Black Man said...

On the other hand, I LOVE American Pie! ... We used to sing that at the top of our lungs on the playground.

My heart breaks for the lost era when everybody listened to the Top 40.

Undercover Black Man said...

A local paper once had a poll, "Hell's Hit Parade," about the worst songs ever recorded. "Abraham, Martin & John" was on the list.

You know what, John B.? "Mr. Bojangles" is a song I sometimes confuse in my mind with "Abraham, Martin & John." Like for instance... I could've sworn Sammy Davis, Jr. recorded "Abraham, Martin and John." (He never did.)

Thing about it is... I think "Mr. Bojangles" is a great pop song. Some might say it's just as schmaltzy as "AM&J"... but it touches me.

And Sammy killed with it.

Anonymous said...

UnderCoverBlackMan,

You're kinda cute. LOL.

*random comment-quota for the day...now filled*

John B. said...

Also, I'm not sure Moms Mabely ever recorded "Abraham, Martin & John, but I remember seeing her sing it on "The Smothers Brothers Show."

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Moms did indeed record it, John B. Her single reached the Top 40 in 1969.

(Joel Whitburn's "Top R&B Singles" is my friend.)

phx said...

Not as good as The Wanderer, for sure.

Jack J. said...

I think you're the point of the song. The message is what matters and in that song, the message is everything, sappy or not.

It's a remembrance of leaders that were murdered (or to some, sacrificed) while fighting for our rights.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Oh, is that what the song is about jack? Okay, it makes sense now. I didn't know which Abraham, Martin and John he was talking about.

:-|

But seriously, the point of any song is to be a good song. And this just ain't.

timothyjamaal said...

I just heard Dion's version. It was good. Smokey's was a-ight. Couldn't find Ray's version but the sample I heard sounds like he took it to church. But Marvin's version... OMG... his version was far different because he didn't include the extra verse that came before the "has anybody here seen Bobby?" verse and instead of saying "he's up there with Abraham, Martin & John", he said "they're all gone". His version was very solemn compared to the other versions. You feel their loss with Marvin's version IMHO.