Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Moses and Pharoah, Real Housewives and Us

So, I had lunch a few weeks ago with former PG colleague Monica Haynes (who now has her own firm, Mon Media), and she was expressing her disdain and disgust for the women on "The Real Housewives of..." um, whichever city it was. I know that there are several of those shows, and I've never seen any of them, so they all occupy the same non-space for me.

Anyway, as she expressed her distress at how these women conduct themselves, especially when they know so many people are watching them, she asked why anyone would do the stuff they do on TV, and then answered her own question: for money and celebrity.

And suddenly, I heard Roberta Flack's voice in my head, saying, "My people - let Pharoah go. You don't need his tricks. You don't need his trinkets."

Those lines are part a rap that Ms. Flack laid down on a song, "Go Up, Moses," that was on her 1971 album, "Quiet Fire." The song turns the spiritual/folk tune, "Go Down, Moses," on its head by opening with the chorus, "Go up, Moses, you've been down too long. Go up, Moses, sing your freedom song." And it closes with the aforementioned rap, not demanding of Pharoah, "Let my people go," but encouraging Black folks to "Let Pharoah go."

Monica wasn't familiar with the song, so I've been trying to find it online, and finally did, on a fascinating blog called "The B Side," dedicated to the flip sides of hit 45s from the heyday of vinyl. A big thank-you goes to blogger Red Kelly for putting "Go Up, Moses" in the spotlight.

I think it still packs a punch, and that it may be time for an updated version. Many of us still need to let Pharoah go.

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