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The Best Songs: Sometimes I feel like a motherless child

The Negro spiritual, Motherless Child Blues is a Negro Spiritual that turned into “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” (or simply “Motherless Child”) .

The song dates back to the era of slavery in the United States when it was common practice to sell children of slaves away from their parents. An early performance of the song dates back as far as the 1870s by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Like many traditional songs, it has many variations and has been recorded many times.

The song is clearly an expression of pain and despair as it conveys the hopelessness of a child who has been torn from his or her parents. Under one interpretation, the repetitive singing of the word “sometimes” offers a measure of hope, as it suggests that at least “sometimes” I do not feel like a motherless child.

Although the plaintive words can be interpreted literally, they were much more likely metaphoric. The “motherless child” could be a slave separated from and yearning for his African homeland, a slave suffering “a long ways from home”—home being heaven—or most likely both. (- wikipedia)

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