The Death Of Emmett Till / Alabama

John Coltrane recorded "Alabama" on November 18, 1963, just two months after the racially-motivated Birmingham church bombing that killed four girls and injured several other people. I've always loved the hellfire kind of protest as demonstrated, to some extent, by Dylan's "Death of Emmett Till" because sometimes rage and explicit statement are the only appropriate responses to a terrible event. But Coltrane's track works on a different level aesthetically, presenting the bombing as a human tragedy, one that everybody civilised enough to feel can understand, while never disengaging from condemnation of the perpetrators. Music is subjective but to borrow a phrase from Dylan, I hear "tears of rage [and] tears of grief" in the track.


Bruce Hodder said…
By the way, isn't Dylan's track excellent? Not one of his better known ones but it bristles with power like the later "Hurricane".
Bruce Hodder said…
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