Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

How this iconic Yiddish song became an anthem for Black Americans


Arielle Kaplan

What makes one person tick is totally subjective, but science confirms that people are hard-wired to respond to music. It lifts moods, eases pain and triggers powerful emotions.

Some songs become so popular that they transcend their original meaning. Take "I've Been Working on the Railroad" - today it's known as a popular children's folk song, but the origins of its lyrics lie in caricaturing Black dialect, and it makes light of the abusive and exploitive conditions endured by Black laborers. More recent examples include patriotic uses of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." - it's actu...

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