Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reverend Joe Lowery's Invocation, The Blues & Big Bill Broonzy

In the closing seconds of the invocation, I and millions of others savored Joe Lowery's rap. It came across as the perfect cap, the high point of the proceedings, and Obama's bowed head and many others on the dais lifted into smiles as he prayed:

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right.
Lowery lifted his zinger from a 1948 hit song by fellow preacher and accomplished bluesman Big Bill Broonzy's "Black, Brown and White," and enlarged upon it with inclusion:
If you're black and gotta work for a living,
This is what they will say to you,
They say, "If you was white, you's all right,
If you was brown, stick around,
But as you's black, oh brother, get back, get back, get back"

I was in a place one night
They was all having fun
They was all buyin' beer and wine,
But they would not sell me none
They said, "If you was white, you's all right,
If you was brown, stick around,
But if you black, oh brother, get back, get back, get back."

I hepped built this country
And I fought for it, too
Now I guess that you can see
What a black man has to do
They says, "If you's white, you's all right,
If you's brown, stick around,
But if you black, oh brother, get back, get back, get back."
Broonzy also popularized the riff which would later serve as a rich quarry of American rock music, "Guitar Shuffle." I hope Mr. Lowery is listening to some iteration of it tonight, and that he's come down with the smilin' blues like the happiest man in town.


Vincent said...

If my beloved is anything to go by, and her beloved Jamaica, this invocation (which she quoted out to me yesterday) and the occasion which prompted it, are setting in motion a world-wide energy and joy, creating a win for all and not just one section of society.

There's a lot of difference between having to fight for recognition (where the fight never ends) and being legitimately crowned and acclaimed.

A. Peasant said...

That was the best part of the whole thing, and especially when he said, "Let all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen, say Amen, and Amen!" I would have loved to see the faces of w and his satanic cohorts at that particular moment.

MarcLord said...


it was joyously mind-blowing, and to have the ceremonies capped off by an eloquent hero of the civil rights movement was perfect. You're right, we all win, the architecture of hierarchy has a wrecking ball swinging towards it, and my best to your beloved.

MarcLord said...


Huh. Now that you mention it, I can't even remember if they were there for the closing prayer--they must have been, right?

I was glued to the TV until Dubya and Fuckya (Cheney) left. Even then, "Is that god-damned helicopter going to turn back and land," I wondered.

Still Life Living said...

Now, I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

A. Peasant said...

Video here of the crowd singing nah nah nah nah hey hey goodbye as the helicopter flew away with that assclown, geedub.

I'm sure there were sitting there for the benediction, and they must have been clenching their jaws knowing that millions and millions of people were invoking a tremendous blessing from Almighty God with each Amen, to surely undo their wicked deeds one way or another. Ha!!

MarcLord said...


rock on with your god self.

MarcLord said...


I went back and watched the whole thing on YouTube. During the intro to Lowery, Bush senior is caught by the camera giving the Obamas what can only be described as a hateful leer. Junior and Laura with heads bowed, eyes closed the whole time, Cheney not visible from the C-Span feed.

Will dig back up and post.

A. Peasant said...

The old one, he is the head of the octopus. That fits with the scraps one can find about the intelligence war going on behind the curtain.