Thursday, February 10, 2011

Black History: Follow The Drinking Gourd



During slavery, music and song was as important to African-Americans as any other necessity of life.  Folks used song to ease the burden of long, hard days of working from dusk til dawn, and to hope for better days to come.  Song was also used for practical reasons as well like to communicate something to others in the field, or more importantly, to tell each other how to escape to freedom.



Follow The Drinking Gourd was exactly that, a map to freedom disguised in a song.  Although a drinking gourd is a hollowed out gourd that was used for passing around drinking water to slaves, it's meaning in the song was the Big Dipper.  This group of stars would guide slaves to freedom in the north.

Here are the words to this famous slave song:

Follow The Drinking Gourd

When the sun comes back and the first quail calls,
Follow the drinking gourd.
For the old man is a-waiting for to 
carry you to freedom
If you follow the drinking gourd.

Follow the drinking gourd,
Follow the drinking gourd,
For the old man is a-waiting for to
carry you to freedom
If you follow the drinking gourd.

The river ends between two hills,
Follow the drinking gourd.
There's another river on the other side,
Follow the drinking gourd.

Follow the drinking gourd, 
Follow the drinking gourd, 
For the old man is a-waiting for to
carry you to freedom
If you follow the drinking gourd. 

I was looking around on You Tube and found this awesome rendition of the song by the Ishmel Sisters, it's a little long, but well worth six minutes of your time.  These girls are amazing!

Have an outstanding Thursday and thanks for stopping by!






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