Saturday, October 5, 2013

Goin' Home

When I was a child, my parents listened to Classical Music every weekend.  We had a stereo that was a lovely dark Danish wood and it allowed for several albums to be put one on top of the other.  The mechanism would allow one to fall and the needle would swing smoothly in and lightly begin to prick the sound from the record.  When that album finished, another would fall, and so the entire day would be filled with beautiful music.

One of my favorites was Dvorak's New World Symphony.  I was astonished to learn that the composer was Eastern European for he had absolutely captured the sounds of America in his Symphony.  There are bits of negro spiritual as well as folk music and raw powerful tones that capture the youth and majesty of the American land from the Chesapeake to the Rocky Mountains, from the cotton fields of the South to the endless skies of the Great Plains, as well as the American pioneer spirit of the westward movement.

One of the negro spirituals that was incorporated is "Goin' Home".  The tune is achingly lovely, and the lyrics?  For one who is a believer in Jesus Christ, who knows that heaven is at the end of the road of this life, the lyrics are even more beautiful than their melody.

Lawrence Tibbett, the singer in this video, was an Operatic singer as well as a performer in plays.  His voice was absolutely magnificent.  The tone is rich as dark, smooth chocolate, and it is pure and clear.

Back in the 1920's and the 1930's when Lawrence Tibbett was popular, it was not accepted for black people to perform in white venues.  How sad that is because, as wonderful as Mr Tibbett's voice is, I could also imagine Paul Robeson singing this song.  Paul Robeson is another post, however, because his voice is even more rich and thick and visceral than Lawrence Tibbett's.   So, for productions such as "Porgy and Bess", Gershwin's black opera, Lawrence Tibbett and his white female costar, as well as a completely white cast, performed the entire thing.  Not quite authentic, but that's how it was. 

Here are the lyrics to "Goin Home"

"Goin' Home"

Goin' home
Goin' home
I'm a goin’ home,
quiet like, some still day
I'm just goin’ home

It's not far
Just close by
through an open door
work all done
care laid by
goin’ to fear no more

mother's there
expecting me
father's waitin’ too
lot's of folk
gathered there
all the friends I knew
all the friends I knew

home, home

I’m goin’ home.

Nothin's loss nor gain
no more fret nor pain
no more stumblin on the way
no more longing for the day
going to roam no more

that morning star lights the way
restless dreams all done
shadows gone
break o’ day
real life just begun

There’s no break

Ain’t no end

Just a livin’ on

Wide awake with a smile

Goin’ on and on

goin home
goin home
I'm just goin home

It’s not far

Just close by

Through an open door.

I’m just goin home.

When he sings "it's not far, just close by, through an open door", it gives me chills.  Now that my father has passed over, of course I listened to this and immediately thought of him.  No more pain or sorrow, no more being chained to a chair and unable to think clearly.  His mother, his father, all the friends he knew......the things we all look back on with nostalgia and longing as we get older.  The days when we could run and play outside without a care in the world. 

I hope you enjoy this beautiful rendition by Lawrence Tibbett and the original negro spiritual lyrics. 


Anonymous said...

Susan, five years ago tonight I sang lyrics of this song to my mother as she lay in hospice in a coma, an hour before she passed. Thank you for your post

Susan Humeston said...

You were very strong to be able to sing that to her as she left here......