This is a different kind of slave song compared to I Want to go Home whose premise is based on a labor slave wishing for freedom and to go back home. Follow The Drinking Gourd however is a song that arose from the Underground Railroad and I was taught that slaves would sing it to remember the path to freedom, the drinking gourd in this case is the big dipper constellation.
Eric Bibb’s performance of the piece features only himself as the vocals and the strumming of an acoustic guitar. I can tell the way he is playing the guitar that he has a set syncopated rhythm. The simplicity of the musical elements connotes to me a “folksy” vibe. I am certain that this song has been covered by a lot more people who have different renditions of it but I quite like his interpretation. Like the last song it has elements of spirituality but this song has a lot more hope to the tone.
This is not the first time I have listened to this song. It is popular as I feel it represents the journey and struggle of slaves trying to escape through the underground railroad. This is the first song of this series where the word “Freedom” is mentioned. Whereas I Want to Go Home was a song of suffering and longing this song actively encouraging those who chose to listen to pursue freedom and that is the main element that makes the song so impacting on many people.