LONDON ANTI-SLAVERY RESEARCH PROJECT
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Follow The Drinking Gourd:
The song known as “Follow the Drinking Gourd”is widely believed to be a song that provided slaves in America information to help escape slavery in the south and secretly move to freedom in the North. This is a very good example of a song that was used to help slaves escape freedom during the time of the American Civil War. This song would be first published in 1928 and its written record was established in 1947. (Joe Bresler, Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Cultural History).
An example of the subliminal messages is the section of the song where it mentions “The river bank makes a mighty good road, The dead trees show you the way. Left foot, peg foot, traveling on Follow the Drinking Gourd.” What this section of the song means is firstly, the river bank refers to the Tombigee river in Mississippi, the term “left foot, peg foot” refers to the dead trees along the river or the term “peg foot” relates to one named peg foot who could have left their mark on the trees (Follow the Drinking Gourd, Black Studies Center). Overall these clues in this song would have helped the slaves in the south flee to safer areas in the north.
Follow the Drinking Gourd. 2010, http://bsc.chadwyck.com.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/search/displayIibpCitation.do?SearchEngine=Opentext&area=iibp&id=00399746
Bresler, Joel. “Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Cultural History.” Yearbook for Traditional Music. Vol. 39 (2007), pg. 211-212
Get off the Track:
This song by The Hutchinson Family Singers was used as a form of campaign against the ideologies of pro-slavery in America and to promote anti-slavery views. In their song “Get off the Tracks”, the lyrics explain that one must get on the “car of freedom” or “get off the tracks” because one will get run over by the car of Emancipation. The Hutchinson Family Singers wanted to unify the notion of anti-slavery through their song.
Gac, Scott. Singing for Freedom: The Hutchinson Family Singers and the Nineteenth-Century Culture of Antebellum Reform. Michigan: Yale University Press, 2007
Metal music can be used to speak out against oppression and against harsh conditions in society as highlighted in the documentary Global Metal. This element of free speech is now applied to the elements of anti-slavery in the song Get Off The Track, which in result creates an extreme metal cover of this song.
Dunn, Sam., MacFayden, Scot. Global Metal. Documentary. Directed/performed by Sam Dunn. (2007; Bergen International Film Festival, Warner Home Video, Seville Pictures, 2008), DVD.
Follow The Drinking Gourd produced and sung by Ira Lehtovaara
Get Off The Track produced and sung by Ira Lehtovaara
Get Off The Track Metal Version: Vocals, bass, guitar - Ira Lehtovaara
Drum programming - Marcello Cannata
Research by Ira Lehtovaara