This song is a cover of the Bruce Springsteen classic, but those expecting a faithful rendition will be on for a surprise. Meshach has adapted the lyrics to reflect the experiences of his race in America.
The first verse depicts how his ancestors were treated: “Born down in Jamestown, 1619 when I hit the ground…just a slave that been beat up too much, spent half my life covering up….”.
Musically, he reduces the song to simple blues changes, making you concentrate on the lyrics more closely. He sings in a distinctive, deep voice that brought to mind John Lee Hooker.
In the following harrowing and moving verses, he portrays being bullied at school, and returning home from war to face racial segregation: “Wore my blues on my way to vote at the poll, they greeted me with that old Jim Crow now…”.
Overall, this is an impressive artistic reinterpretation of a well-known song that Meshach very much makes his own. This is achieved through the authenticity of his performance, as well as the emotional weight of his lyrical adaptation which gives this version a lot more power and resonance.
I look forward to hearing more of his material.
– Alex Faulkner