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May 21

Aretha Franklin’s Remarkable Version of “Mary Don’t You Weep”

Aretha Franklin‘s rendition of “Mary Don’t You Weep” may have not been the best of all its recordings, but her soulful and powerful rendition of the song gave life to it. Franklin always gives 100% of her self to the songs she sang, and that’s why many people adore her music. Her version of “Mary Don’t You Weep” is immaculate, and we can’t get enough of it.

Aretha Franklin Mary Don't You Weep The Swan Silvetones
Aretha Franklin performing at the New Orleans Jazz Festival/ Photo by Leon Morris/Getty Images

“Mary Don’t You Weep” Background

The traditional gospel song is known by many names, “Mary Don’t You Weep,” “O Mary Don’t You Weep,” and “Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep, Don’t You Mourn.” Whatever the title is, all have the same meaning and message to the song. It was written during the American Civil War. Many believed that it was written by slaves as a song to comfort them in their tragic lives. The first known recording of the song was in 1915 by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. They brought life to the song and made it known to singers from different genres of music.

“Mary Don’t You Weep” was based on both the Old and New Testament of the Bible. The story was derived from Mary, who was begging Jesus to raise her dead brother, Lazarus, from the dead. The other story is about the Pharaoh’s army who were drowned in the Red Sea. These stories, combined, brought life to a song that shows us hope in life. The raising of the dead and the eradication of one’s enemy has taught us that God will never forsake us. He will forever guide us and save us. His undying love for us will serve as our strength in life.

Aretha Franklin’s Live Recording and Amazing Grace Album

If most artists recorded the song in a studio and made some changes to make it sound perfect, Franklin recorded it the other way. She made a version where she sang it live. And here, you can hear how perfect her voice is. “Mary Don’t You Weep” became one of the recordings from her album Amazing Grace in 1972. The album sold about two million copies, leading to being platinum-certified by RIAA in 1992. Furthermore, she won the Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance in 1973.

Here’s Aretha Franklin’s live version.

The Best Version

The best-known rendition of this spiritual song was recorded by The Swan Silvertones in 1958. Their cover of the song was inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry. What makes their version unique is that a part of the song was changed by the lead singer.

Here’s the rendition of The Swan Silvertones.


Tags

Aretha Franklin, Mary Don't You Weep, The Swan Silvestones


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