Thursday, November 22, 2012

40 Year Itch : Thanksgiving at Sing Sing

There was a riot at Sing Sing Prison but it was a riot of music, emotion, enthusiasm and good feelings. What a day. What a concert!
-Jerry Oster, New York Daily News

On Thanksgiving Day in 1972, Joan Baez her sister Mimi Farina, B B King, The Voices of East Harlem and comedian Jimmy Walker performed at the maximum security prison Sing Sing in New York State. Joan Baez opened with " I Shall Be Released". Then her sister joined her for a duet of the Spanish song "Viva Mi Patria Bolivia". Finally Baez sang her own  "Prison Trilogy" with the chorus "And we're gonna raze, raze the prisons/To the ground".

Then it was blues giant B B King's turn. He performed three numbers : "How Blue Can You Get?", "Someone Really Loves You" and "I Think You're Cheatin' On Me Baby".


A documentary called Sing Sing Thanksgiving, released in 1972, intercuts the performances with inmate interviews.

The concert must have gone pretty well. A few week later an almost completely unknown musician, just signed to Columbia Records, performed a two hour show with his pick up band at the Sing Sing chapel. His name was Bruce Springsteen. He let Clarence Clemons sing the Buddy Miles tune "Them Changes" and pretty much stuck to covers. Of the audience, Springsteen said "They're tough dudes. They got nobody to impress at all. It was good that they liked us."

No comments:

Post a Comment