Today's post is me, The Black Blogger going back quite a ways to one of the iconic songs of the early 1970s' Harry Hippie written by Jack Ford to celebrate the life of Harry Womack. Mr. Ford wrote the song but the singer Bobby Womack performed his magic when he sang it. I remember the song being released the year that I graduated from high school in 1972. It was during a period of time when the so-called hippie generation was causing a systemic shift in the culture of this nation. It was a time of turmoil in our nation and the beginning elements of black community destruction was beginning with the drug epidemic flooding our nation's urban cities. The song began initially as a calling out tune for the undercover black hippie movement that was circulating in west coast cities. Eventually the song became a memorial to Harry Womack after he was murdered by his girlfriend two years after the song was written. Today, I ask that we repurpose the song for the black community as it struggles to maintain some sort of morality as the urban murder rates continue to climb, the incarceration rates refuse to decline, the poverty levels continue to put an undue burden on the progress educationally, economically, psychologically and physically on a great percentage of our black brothers and sisters across this nation. So, so many of our sisters and brothers live lives without hope. They live life's caught in the snare of despair. They have no saving rope to pull them out from the web of depression. They look at those who live within their communities as targets rather than as comrades. So, I would like to repurpose Harry Hippie because to me it is one of the most powerful songs ever written. Some of the song's lines just continue to carry weight 47 years after those words were initially put to paper by Jack Ford.
Let's talk about those lines today as I repurpose Harry Hippie. I would love for a singer to rewrite some of the verses to bring them up to date because hippies no longer are prevalent in our nation. The hippies that live today are now in their late 60s'. 70s', and 80s in terms of age. The free love movement was capsized by the diseases of sexuality. The peace movement was destroyed by the Industrial Military Complex which includes military confrontations around the world, military armaments, military lobbyists, elected federal officials and by strategies that have kept many people in fear of the unknown. No longer are the streets filled with agitated white folks young in age with ideals of humanity. Nor or the streets filled with the air of revolution that feed the black militant movement of the late 60s' and early 70s'. Yet the issues that presented problems in our communities then still exist today. However, silence has overtaken rebellion in so many communities across the nation.
Everyone claims that they want the best things outta life. Ha, but not everyone wanna go through the toils and strife. I mean is that not a powerful opening to a song about one's life. How many of us know sisters and brothers who felt at once encumbered to believe in personal achievement. Yet after a number of failures that simply have given up. They simply have lost the will and the determination to succeed. I mean some have lost that will as early as the late teens never expecting to live beyond their middle 20s'. I like to help a man when he's down but I can't help him much when he's sleeping on the ground. Really, does that line speak volumes of so many of our brothers especially today. You may not see them sleeping on the ground but they are indeed damn sure down. If a man is down and doesn't want to get up. How in God's name can you keep him from being down. He's made the mental decision to stay in that state of nothingness. Then the line goes even more powerful. Sorry Harry, you're too much weight to carry around. We all want start off in life with the need to seek help from our mother's and father's. I believe that the majority of us start off with the need to help others. Yet, with so many of us down on the ground we become almost powerless to lift them up. We can't in the proverbial sense carry them around. So they stay down once down, never up. Then as the song ends Jack Ford writes this I'd like to help a man when he's down. But how can I help him if he's somewhere outta town. Damn, how many of our brothers and sisters have simply checked out? They have checked out into a seedy world of violence and community decay. These are the classmates that you once knew who had those bright eyes at the ages of 5,6, and 7 yet by the age of the 9 the brightness in their eyes was darkened by the life that was all around them, By the time you were living high school to elevate yourself intellectually in a college or university. They had started to become the brothers you avoided on your return home to the neighborhood. For you the hood was something to run away from. For them that same hood was a place for them manipulate, to castigate, to proliferate, to destroy. It was the place that had decided to lay down and never get up from. Then finally Jack Ford writes this gripping line. Sorry Harry, I think I am going to put you down.
We don't want to give up on anyone but we have given up on many. I had and you have. Hell, I've had people who I respected give up on me. But I was able to cultivate a personal self-belief that wouldn't allow me to give up on myself. We go through life and the joy we gather in life comes from when we see someone whom we thought was doomed but he/she has in Jack Ford's words becomes an old familiar face in a new place. That's what we need in our black communities we need whole bunches of familiar faces in new places of mentality and social uplift. So today I am asking so talented singer to repurpose and reengage the song Harry Hippie for the young people of this millennium. They need to hear these words sung with the passion and understanding that Bobby Womack sung this song with. I end with a partnering that must exist between brothers and sisters. You see in this song there was Mary Hippie, Harry's lady. She did everything she possibly could to bring food onto the table. She saw the life of the streets and could really tell a tale of what she encountered. What Mary wanted most was for Harry to help her put some food on the table. We must understand that teamwork leads to dreamwork which lifts you off the floor of despair and by God's good graces can take you anywhere. Let's look for the best in others, provide hope for the hopeless, create dreams for those who've stopped dreaming and ensure that brothers and sisters can provide a mental meal of empowerment to the young children in our communities. God Bless