Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No More Auction Block For Me

(Another Passover Hymn)

In college, I took a course entitled Blacks and Jews in American Cultural History. During the class, I encountered a Spiritual from around the time of the Civil War which was later recorded by the likes of Paul Robeson and Bob Dylan — “No More Auction Block”. I personally prefer Bob Dylan's version (which can be found in "The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3" or bought on iTunes); he actually took the music from No More Auction Block and later turned it into the basis for Blowin’ In The Wind.


no more auction block for me
no more no more
no more auction block for me
many thousand gone


The song seems to be from the point of view of a recently-freed slave, mourning all those many human beings who were oppressed, tortured, and dehumanized, but didn't live long enough to see freedom.

The stanzas of the song are very simple. The basic pattern above is repeated, with a different reference to slavery replacing the words auction block. In searching the internet for recordings and lyrics listings, I found the following variants: “master call”   “pint of salt”   “driver's lash”   “whiplash”   “peck of corn”   “mistress' call”   “hundred lash”

Ever since I learned this song, I've wanted to sing it at the Seder. Now you can, too. And it's definitely possible to apply the tune to passages in the Haggada, such as Dayeinu.

A version similar to Bob Dylan's:



Paul Robeson's classic version:



A slower, meditative-sounding version:



1 Comments:

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12/09/2011 2:54 AM  

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