"Spearhead" was the anti-side of the struggle against those who would divide Humankind into smaller and ever smaller boxes, and then assert superiority or inferiority for each of those boxes (the song "I'm Better Than You", in the Satiricon collection, sisters this).
"Brothers In Babylon" is the positive side. When I wrote it I had the crazy idea that it would make a great video, something in the style of that horrible yet wonderful Coca Cola advertisement from the early 1970s, which starts with a single voice (blonde, white, female, stereotype), and then extends into an entire cosmos containing every example of the range of human beings they could find, all of them singing "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing In Perfect Harmony", but in this case selling carbonated water with a flavouring as syrupy as the song. In my version...well, you can figure that out for yourself as you listen to the song. If you would like to see the Coke advert, click here.
Behind the writing of the song was Psalm 137, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept...How can I sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” - I wrote it for all those who dwelt in the Pale of Settlement, whether beyond Poland or beyond Pretoria back then, though there are plenty of other locations one could name today. It was supposed to have a reggae beat, but my rhythm got locked into calypso and refused to budge. A song against racial discrimination ought not to lay itself open to accusations of gender discrimination. I therefore dedicate it, most humbly, to all our sisters in Babylon.
The photo shows members of the Black Jews of South-Side Chicago reading Torah. Photo courtesy Temple Beth Shalom.
From Trenchtown to Jerusalem, from Africa to Rome
Trespassers and outcasts, exiled from our homes
But we still have our freedom, we make it in our songs
When they chain our hands together they make us brothers in Babylon
Hey mama don’t you weep, no more lamentations
Your trials and tribulations, we’ll turn them into songsHey sister don’t you grieve, no more hesitations
Your doubts and reservations, we'll sing ’em till they’re gone
We’ll be brothers in Babylon
Oppression and injustice, the white man thinks he’s king
He’ll bar and ban and break you, but he cannot stop us sing
Afraid and so uncertain, that prince alone beneath the sun
While we sit singing by the waters, brothers in Babylon
Once I had a strange dream, it woke me in the night
I dreamed my chains had turned to wings, I dreamed that I could fly
I soared beyond all hatred, hatred born of fear
Hatred born of ignorance and Babylon’s tears
Those ghettos that enclose you, that hide you from the sun
But we are brothers in Babylon, our song it will be sung
In the name of my religion and the colour of your flesh
We’ll be brothers in Babylon our song it will be blessed
You can find David Prashker at:
If you would like to include "Brothers In Babylon" in your repertoire, either for paid public performance or to record for commercial purposes, or if you would like to re-use the recordings attached to this blog-page for commercial purposes, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use of this song, and/or these recordings, for non-commercial purposes, is not simply permitted but invited.
Words and music by David Prashker
Copyright © 2014 David Prashker
All rights reserved
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