Paul Robeson (Born to Be Free) (Black 47)

“Paul Robeson (Born to Be Free)” Sheet Music (pdf).
“Paul Robeson (Born to Be Free)” Karaoke (midi with lyrics).

Lyrics: Larry Kirwan.
Tune: Larry Kirwan.


You can wreck my name, vilify me, stretch me on the rack.
But I won’t bow down to any man, be he white or be he black.
Take away my passport; refuse to let me travel.
But I will not get down on my knees. You’re never gonna make me grovel.
There’s a lot more to democracy than havin’ a vote.
I’m the equal here of any man. Free my people; let them go.
These chains around my body are never gonna hold me.
And I refuse to be a slave in my own country.
The great are only great ’cause we’re down on our knees.
Rise up, my brothers and sisters. We were born to be free,
Born to be free!

You can call me a traitor, but I love my country.
And I will not sell it out because of your hypocrisy.
I refuse to hide behind the Fifth. I’ve no fear of honesty.
You always know exactly where I am, so why don’t you just come over here and get me?
You can tap my phone, but there’s one thing you’ll never hear
’Cause the drumbeat of freedom wasn’t meant for your slaves’ ears.
I’ll never turn my back on my comrades and my friends,
The poor and the dispossessed, the women and the men.
The great are only great ’cause we’re down on our knees.
Rise up, my brothers and sisters. We were born to be free,
Born to be free!

[spoken] “I stand here struggling for the rights of my people to be full citizens in this country. And they are not!”

Close your halls to stop me singin’. Close your minds to stop me speakin’.
Close your kitchens to stop me eatin’. Close your hotels to stop me sleepin’.
But I’ll never turn my back on my comrades and my friends,
The poor and the dispossessed, the women and the men.
The great are only great ’cause we’re down on our knees.
Rise up, my brothers and sisters. We were born to be free,
Born to be free!

These chains around my body are never gonna hold me.
And I refuse to be a slave in my own country.
The great are only great ’cause we’re down on our knees.
Rise up, my brothers and sisters. We were born to be free,
Born to be free!

[spoken] “I was born and bred in this America of ours. I want to love it. But we must have the courage to shout at the top of our voices about our injustices. And we must lay the blame right where it has belonged for over three hundred years of slavery and misery: Right here on our own doorstep.”

[spoken] “My father was a slave. And my people died to build this country. And I’m going to stay here and have a part of it just like you! And no fascist-minded people will drive me from it! Is that clear?”


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