1960s Protest Music Abraham, Martin, and John – Dion

1.) Who is the artist? Dion

2.) What is the name of the Song? “Abraham, Martin and John”

3.) When was it recorded/released? 1968

4.) What other (if any) famous songs do they sing? “A Teenager in Love” (1959), “Runaround Sue” (1961), “The Wanderer” (1961-62), “Ruby Baby” (1963)

5.) What do you think the lyrics of the song mean? (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDOmf5ER0-M)

  • Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham? This line alludes to Abraham Lincoln.
  • Can you tell me where he's gone? What happened to Lincoln? (asked rhetorically)
  • He freed a lot of people, Alludes to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution
  • But it seems the good die young, Lincoln, a good man, was assassinated at age 56 (not “young”, but a shortened life)
  • But I just looked around and he's gone. Lincoln is dead, and this line mourns what happened to him.
  • Has anybody here seen my old friend John? This line alludes to John F. Kennedy.
  • Can you tell me where he's gone? Again, a rhetorical device meant to call attention to the untimeliness of his death
  • He freed a lot of people, Alludes to the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • But it seems the good die young, JFK was assassinated at age 46, which is not very old
  • But I just looked around and he's gone. This line also mourns the loss of JFK.
  • Has anybody here seen my old friend Martin? This line alludes to Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Can you tell me where he's gone? Once again, a rhetorical device used to call attention to the untimely death of a great leader
  • He freed a lot of people, MLK was obviously a major leader of the civil rights movement
  • But it seems the good die young, MLK was 39 years old when he was assassinated
  • But I just looked around and he's gone. Again, a line of mourning
  • Didn't you love the things that they stood for? Freedom and justice are important to us, and those are the things these people fought for
  • Didn't they try to find some good for you and me? They worked for good causes that benefited many people
  • And we'll be free.
  • Someday soon, it's gonna be
  • One day. Someday, we will achieve what these leaders worked for
  • Has anybody here seen my old friend Bobby? This line refers to Robert Kennedy
  • Can you tell me where he's gone? Same rhetorical device as before
  • I thought I saw him walkin'
  • Up over the hill,
  • With Abraham, Martin and John. This song was released the same year that Robert Kennedy was assassinated, so he has gone the same way as the other three leaders mentioned in the song (over the hill being a metaphor for death)

6.) How do they relate to or reflect the time period? The lyrics reflect the time period because this song was from the 1960s, a very tumultuous decade. They contain a message about the civil rights movement, which was a prominent matter at the time.

7.) What is taking place in history when the song was recorded or popular? This song was released the same year that Robert Kennedy was assassinated, and in the same decade as the assassinations of JFK and MLK. The civil rights movement was also a huge deal at the time.

8.) What was the overall inspiration and message of the lyrics of the song? The lyrics of this song reflect the sadness caused by the deaths of these leaders who worked for civil rights, but also the hope that one day, the cause that they worked for will be won.

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