About "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)"Patty Griffin certainly isn't the first artist—and by no means the first folk singer-songwriter—to have penned a tune inspired by Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. But this song, from her 2007 album Children Running Through, has made waves throughout the music community.
It was inspired by King's "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech from 1968, which he delivered the day before he was assassinated. Griffin's arresting tribute to King is, arguably, most exquisitely performed by Griffin herself. However, a handful of other artists have chosen to cover it, to much critical acclaim.
About "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)" LyricsThe speech which inspired this tribute to peace and perserverence is a haunting one, not only because it was King's final speech, but also for the amount of dedication to the cause that it portrayed. He recognized that there was a possibility he would be assassinated, but kept to his main message: "The nation is sick, trouble is in the land, confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars." Later in the speech, he said "We are going on. We need all of you...either we go up together or we go down together." It is this statement from which Griffin pulled the inspiration for her pivotal lyrics:
Sometimes I feel I've never been nothing but tired
And I'll be walking until the day I expire
Sometimes I lay down, no more can I do
But then I go on again, because you asked me to.
Artists Who Have Recorded "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)"In addition to Griffin's own recording, Solomon Burke included it on his 2006 album Nashville, with Griffin singing backup. Pop star Kelly Clarkson has also worked the song into her repertoire after receiving numerous compliments from her performance of it during 2007's Idol Gives Back charity television show.
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Video of Kelly Clarkson performing "Up to the Mountain"