The Creation Of An Anthem

We’re not usually open for business on Wednesdays here at Echoes In The Wind, but as I waited for the Texas Gal to head out for the day, I got to messing around with the Billboard Hot 100 from September 28, 1964, looking for fodder for a future post.

And I saw a title I’d not heard of before – not an infrequent occurrence – and did a little bit of looking. It’s a jazz piece, which explains a little of my ignorance; as many gaps as there are in my knowledge of pop, rock and soul, there are far more gaps in my knowledge of jazz. I did know the name of the main performer on the record: pianist Oscar Peterson, recording with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen as the Oscar Peterson Trio. The track is called “Hymn to Freedom.”

As the tune played at YouTube, I did some digging, and I found at Peterson’s website a brief memoir about the 1962 session that resulted in “Hymn to Freedom” and the trio’s album Night Train. The webpage was posted in 2002, about five-and-a-half years before Peterson passed on at the age of eighty-two, and it is interesting reading.

As I said above, I came across the listing of “Hymn to Freedom” in the Billboard Hot 100 from September 28, 1964, forty-seven years ago today. The record was bubbling under at No. 109. It stayed there one more week and then fell out of the chart. It probably deserved better.

(As indicated in the note at Peterson’s website, “Hymn to Freedom” had words added by Harriette Hamilton and became an anthem of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and later a piece frequently performed by youth choirs. Here’s a link to a performance of the song – with lyrics – by a children’s choir.)

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