Song for Jesse Owens

from by Paul Clingman

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about

When first released, back in 1973, this track became very well-known underground in South Africa, as a statement against racism and discrimination. It was banned on the state-owned national radio at the time. The song commemorates the achievement and meaning of the brilliant performance of Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he won four gold medals, and as a black athlete showed up the vicious and racist Nazi ideology.

lyrics

Song for Jesse Owens
Words and music (p) © Paul Clingman (SAMRO) 1973

Jesse, oh how you played the game
Jesse was the fire inside the flame
Jesse, you won out just the same
Jesse is more than a name

Taken from your home to a distant place
Never looking right or left, just thinking of the race
Knowing that the winning was all inside your heart
You were always first to finish and always last to start

Jesse, oh how you played the game
Jesse was the fire inside the flame
Jesse, you won out just the same
Jesse is more than a name

Moving through those millions like a bullet from a gun
Knocking down false statues every time you won
Spelling out your victory like clouds spell certain rain
You had everything to lose and the world so much to gain

Jesse, oh how you played the game
Jesse was the fire inside the flame
Jesse, you won out just the same
Jesse is more than a name

Standing high and straight and strong and crowned with a laurel wreath
You were walking high above although you knelt beneath
Smiling soft for strangers and conquering their land
You shook their hearts with victory thought they would not shake your hand

Jesse, oh how you played the game
Jesse was the fire inside the flame
Jesse, you won out just the same
Jesse is more than a name

Time has gone the world’s grown old in only thirty years
Though you smiled still men have had to cry such bitter tears
Still we try to stand up high and straight and strong as you
And remain alone and human is all we have to do

Jesse, oh how you played the game
Jesse was the fire inside the flame
Jesse, you won out just the same
Jesse is more than a name

credits

from Morning on the Line, released January 30, 2016

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about

Paul Clingman South Africa

I am Paul Clingman, singer-songwriter, artist and author based in South Africa. I was a pioneer in the development of African crossover music. My songs spring from the life of South Africa but echo at the wider horizon.

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