It begins with piano riffs and drum. Prince’s dulcet falsetto pours out the first verse, then drops a register for verse two. It is, in a word, sublime. It is Prince at his most soulful, with the growls and runs that mark his genius.
The song: “Mary Don’t You Weep,” a gospel standard, a Negro spiritual, or a “slave song” that has rocked the ages, one that encapsulates our pain, but still rings out with hope.
Though it’s been covered by many, Prince’s version was heretofore unheard by the masses by Prince because it was unreleased.
But that all changed on Wednesday, when filmmaker Spike Lee released a video of the soaring song for the BlacKkKlansman movie, a film based on the real-life story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department, who courageously takes on the Ku Klux Klan.
Coincidentally, I had been listening to Aretha’s version of the song since her death, but this one is just as haunting.
Let the church say Amen.