Thursday Inspiration #115 People Got to Be Free

Respond to this challenge, by either by using the prompt word free, or going with the above picture, or by means of the song ‘People Got to Be Free’, or by going with another song by The Rascals, or anything else that you think fits.  The Rascals recorded ‘People Got to Be Free’ on their 1969 album Freedom Suite and the single went to #1 on the US chart and it became their last #1 hit.  This was their fifth studio album and it was a double album, which was sort of a concept album, including songs about assassinations and police actions at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  The first popular double album came out three years earlier in 1966 with Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, which was soon followed by The Mothers of Invention’s debut album Freak Out!.  1968 was a big year for the double album with The Beatles’ releasing their White Album, The Animals Love Is, Cream Wheels of Fire, Donovan A Gift from a Flower to a Garden, The Jimi Hendrix Experience Electric Ladyland, and Santana Live At The Fillmore.  By 1969, the double albums became mainstream with the Bee Gees Odessa, Chicago The Chicago Transit Authority, Grateful Dead Live/Dead, Small Faces The Autumn Stone, Muddy Waters Fathers and Sons, and The Who Tommy.

The Young Rascals were formed in 1965 from Garfield, New Jersey, by keyboardist Felix Cavaliere and vocalist Eddie Brigati, along with drummer Dino Danelli and guitarist Gene Cornish.  Cavaliere, Brigati and Cornish left the group Joey Dee and the Starliters who are best known for their hit ‘Peppermint Twist’ and the fact that before The Beatles opened for them before they got big.   Felix, Eddie and Dino recruited Danelli was working with The Unbeatables to form The Young Rascals.  “Young” was prefixed to the Rascals’ name, because the name “Rascals” was already registered to an all-harmonica group that formed in the 1920s playing the vaudeville circuit called Borrah Minevitch and His Harmonica Rascals.  When the boys from Jersey reached their late 20s, the “Young” was dropped.

Felix and Eddie were the lead singers in this blue-eyed soul group, and also the two principal songwriters for the Rascals, who together changed the direction of pop music in 1965.  They were the first white-only act to be signed by Atlantic Records and they were made up of three Italians and an Irishman.  The Rascals have 17 Top-20 hits, seven Top-10 hits and three No. 1 hits and from 1965 through 1969, The Rascals were one of the best-selling groups on the pop charts.  They scored with classic chart entries as the #1 hit ‘Good Lovin’’, #1 ‘Groovin’’, #3 ‘A Beautiful Morning’, #4 ‘How Can I Be Sure’, #10 ‘A Girl Like You’, #16 ‘I’ve Been Lonely Too Long’, and this #1 ‘People Got to Be Free’.  These hits were marked by such a distinctive mix of R&B and rock, and romance and social consciousness, that in 1997, The Rascals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Rascals were doing some shows in the South, in places like Tampa and Orlando traveling by themselves without a Dick Clark representative and their tour bus broke down near Fort Pierce, which is about half way between Orlando and Miami.  They ran into some rednecks with rebel flags who caused them problems, telling them that they couldn’t figure out if they were boys or girls and I am guessing because they had long hair.  The police were reluctant to help them and a bunch of people on motorcycles were threatening them.  After playing a series of jobs in the South during this Dick Clark tour, Cavaliere was determined to do something and shortly after they released ‘People Got to be Free’.  Felix announced a new appearance policy, where the Rascals wouldn’t perform at any more shows that didn’t include at least one black act.  This became a permanent financial sacrifice for the group and the Rascals wanted to “Shout it from the mountains on down to the sea/people everywhere just got to be free”.  Unlike most other acts of the era, The Rascals didn’t just sing about ideas and ideals in which they believed, they employed these values and they took a stand on Civil Rights.

The band fell apart in the early 1970s and their lyrics about racial integration may have had something to do with that, along with their insistence to have an African-American act playing with them on their concert bills and them trying to dabble in psychedelic music.  They did the right thing by taking a political stand on racial issues, forcing people to confront prejudice, but they sacrificed a good portion of their own career by doing this.  This song represents freedom in every sense for the 60s and it symbolizes the civil rights movement and the hippie counter-culture and movement away from the norm.  ‘People Got to Be Free’ was inspired by the April 4, 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., a tragic event where a champion of freedom was lost.  At this time, controversy was sparking up over Vietnam as well, so this song could be used to demonstrate how people all over just want to be free as opposed to being under communist rule.

Hear the shoutin’ from the mountains on out to the sea
No two ways about it, people have to be free (they gotta be free)
Ask me my opinion, my opinion will be
Natural situation for a man to be free

13 thoughts on “Thursday Inspiration #115 People Got to Be Free

    1. Yes they recorded some good songs and I found them to be an interesting band. The Song Lyric Sunday theme this week is American music, which is any song played by an American group and if you want to get in on the fun this should be an easy challenge as there is a lot of music to choose from.

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      1. They are kinda of forgotten….them and the Lovin Spoonful.
        I will if I can Jim…I’ve been working most of the time at night in the past few weeks…moving every server we have to the cloud on Microsoft…huge undertaking.

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