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Freedom: Songs from the Heart of America Box set

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Long annoyed with the dry, dusty nature of American history textbooks, author Joy Hakim set out to create a multivolume narrative that revolved around the deceptively simple idea of freedom. But as her books, the PBS series they spawned, and this, the show's soundtrack, have proven, it's a word whose meanings have been filtered through myriad historical, cultural, and political prisms. The three discs here span some 67 performances across 90 years of recording history, from WWI-era recordings of "Yankee Doodle" (who knew it had so many verses?) and Cohan's "Over There" through a dizzying array of folk, country, pop, R&B, and classical selections. And if it virtually ignores two decades of hip-hop and shortchanges nonvocal jazz (what's "freer" than Monk and Miles?), it's nonetheless an intriguing collection that delivers surprises and musical revelations on every disc.

Hoary American patriotic standards are cast in fresh light, while other worthy performances (a vibrant take on "Erie Canal" by Dan Zanes and Suzanne Vega; Booker T. & the MG's and Terence Trent D'Arby's soulful "A Change Is Gonna Come") are rescued from obscurity in a collection that seems to delight in trashing the narrow-minded marketing philosophy that has largely ghettoized American culture in recent years. Sousa, Seeger, Sly, and Simone are hardly the least of its charms. --Jerry McCulley

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free - Nina Simone
  2. America (My Country 'Tis Of Thee) - Washington Men's Camarata
  3. Yankee Doodle - The Broadway Quartet (feat. Charles Harrison)
  4. Because All Men Are Brothers - Peter, Paul & Mary w/ Dave Brubeck
  5. Simple Gifts - The New York Philharmonic
  6. The Star Spangled Banner - Duke Ellington
  7. Amazing Grace - Willie Nelson
  8. Erie Canal - Dan Zanes & Friends (feat. Suzanne Vega)
  9. New River Train - Louise Massey & The Westerners
  10. When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again - Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  11. Dixie - Gil Tanner's Skillet Lickers
  12. Follow The Drinking Gourd - Taj Mahal
  13. Oh Freedom - The Boys Choir Of Harlem
  14. The Battle Hymn of the Republic - Washington Men's Camarata
  15. Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier - Pamela Warrick Smith
  16. Shenandoah Lullabye - Jerry Garcia & David Grisman
  17. Healing Song #1 - Verdell Primeaux,Johnny Mike & Robert Attson
  18. Home On The Range - Gene Autry
  19. America The Beautiful - Keb' Mo'
  20. Can The Circle Be Unbroken - The Original Carter Family
  21. Semper Fidelis - The Goldman Band
  22. Stars and Stripes Forever! - New York Philharmonic

Disc: 2

  1. I'm On My Way (Live) - Mahalia Jackson
  2. In My Merry Oldsmobile - Les Brown & His Orchestra
  3. Keep Off The Grass - James P. Johnson
  4. Over There - Arthur Fields
  5. When The Moon Shines On The Moonshine - Bert Williams
  6. The Death Of Mother Jones - Gene Autry
  7. (What Did I Do To Be So) Black And Blue? - Louis Armstrong
  8. Hittin' The Ceiling - Smith Ballew
  9. Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? - Bing Crosby (w/ Lennie Hayton & His Orchestra)
  10. Dancing In The Dark - Ben Selvin & His Orchestra
  11. The Gold Diggers' Song - Dorsey Brothers Orchestra (w/ The Boswell Sisters)12. God Bless America - Kate Smith
  12. On The Trail - Pittsburgh Symphony Suite
  13. This Land Is Your Land - Woody Guthrie & Arlo Guthrie
  14. Union Maid - The Almanac Singers (w/ Pete Seeger & Woody Guthrie)
  15. Strange Fruit - Billie Holiday
  16. Trouble - Josh White
  17. Joe Hill - Paul Robeson
  18. We'll Meet Again - Peggy Lee (w/ Benny Goodman)
  19. Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition - Kay Kyser & His Orchestra
  20. The Freedom Train - Paul Weston Orchestra
  21. Atom And Evil - Golden Gate Quartet
  22. Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? - Count Basie & His Orchestra
  23. The Bourgeois Blues - Leadbelly
  24. Fanfare For The Common Man - London Symphony Orchestra

Disc: 3

  1. The Times They Are A-Changin' - Bob Dylan
  2. America - Chita Rivera, Marilyn Cooper & Reri Grist
  3. A Change Is Gonna Come - Terence Trent D'Arby & Booker T & The MG's
  4. We Shall Overcome - Mahalia Jackson
  5. Dancing In The Street - Martha And The Vandellas
  6. If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song) - Pete Seeger
  7. This Little Light Of Mine (Live) - The Freedom Singers
  8. Chimes Of Freedom (Live) - Bruce Springsteen
  9. People Get Ready - The Impressions
  10. America - Simon & Garfunkel
  11. Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Us 'Round - Sweet Honey In The Rock
  12. Stand! - Sly & The Family Stone
  13. Freedom - Richie Havens
  14. Goodnight Saigon - Billy Joel
  15. Wake Up Everybody - Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
  16. Fight The Power - The Isley Brothers
  17. Song Of The Patriot - Johnny Cash (w/ Marty Robbins)
  18. Hard Times - James Taylor
  19. Open Letter (To A Landord) - Living Colour
  20. Someday We'll All Be Free - Donny Hathaway


Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 10, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B00007FOGP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,506 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 18, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I thought this was going to be yet another predictable compilation of traditional freedom songs.Thankfully,it's not. It's by far the best holiday gift I could ever imagine giving-great songs-great range of artists, doing songs both well known and unknown.I never heard Nina Simone's "I wish I knew how it would feel to be Free" and it's fantastic. Same holds true for Dave Brubeck's version of "Because all Men Are Brothers." In this time of forced patriotis,this compilation offers a creative and memorable collection of songs that are stirring-not sappy, fun and not forced-for listeners of all ages. Where else could you find Duke Ellington,Bruce Springsteen, Suzanne Vega and Mahalia Jackson..Billie Holiday, Woody and Arlo Guthrie,Bob Dylan, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Johnny Cash and Jerry Garcia?? It's amazing that such great music is finaly put together in one boxed set. I can't wait to see the tv version on which the cds are based.
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By A Customer on December 18, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I thought this was going to be yet another predictable compilation of traditional freedom songs.Thankfully,it's not. It's by far the best holiday gift I could ever imagine giving-great songs-great range of artists, doing songs both well known and unknown.I never heard Nina Simone's "I wish I knew how it would feel to be Free" and it's fantastic. Same holds true for Dave Brubeck's version of "Because all Men Are Brothers." In this time of forced patriotis,this compilation offers a creative and memorable collection of songs that are stirring-not sappy, fun and not forced-for listeners of all ages. Where else could you find Duke Ellington,Bruce Springsteen, Suzanne Vega and Mahalia Jackson..Billie Holiday, Woody and Arlo Guthrie,Bob Dylan, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Johnny Cash and Jerry Garcia?? It's amazing that such great music is finaly put together in one boxed set. I can't wait to see the tv version on which the cds are based.
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Format: Audio CD
If you're going to spend some rather serious bucks on a compilation CD, you could do a lot worse than this! It takes us on a multidimensional, multigenerational trip through some of the plateaus of American music from the first half of the 20th century, on. I guess Columbia is trying to catch up with Sony on these all encompassing compilations, and if so, more power to them. This recording touches so many bases and appeals to so many different sensibilities, fans of different genres, etc. that it would be impossible to cover it in under 2,000 words. I'm far too lazy to attempt that, amyway. Suffice it to say that there isn't a bad cut on the CD and that the compilers actually took some thought into arranging the thing.

As it's nearing 4th of July this year and our country is not in the best of shape (OK, maybe I'm spending too much time looking in the mirror after my showers this summer!), this CD collection should come as a refreshing and fulfilling reminder of what American music is all about, and why we should remember why it's still a vital, freedom loving country, with room for differing styles, tastes, etc!

BEK
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