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Arts & Culture

'Why Am I Treated So Bad' Special On Mountain Stage

Pops Staples, Rhiannon Giddens, Mavis Staples and Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers perform on <em>Mountain Stage</em>.
Pops Staples, Rhiannon Giddens, Mavis Staples and Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers perform on <em>Mountain Stage</em>.

'Why Am I Treated So Bad' is part of a special episode of Mountain Stage, featuring songs reflecting the struggles of African Americans, from slavery to freedom marches to today's Black Lives Matter movement.

We begin with the song that gave our episode its name. The late Roebuck "Pops" Staples was the patriarch of The Staple Singers, who in the 1960s accompanied Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., while campaigning for civil rights. Pops wrote "Why Am I Treated So Bad?" and says in his introduction to the song, performed on Mountain Stage in the early '90s, that King called it "my song." Pops's daughter Mavis, who carries The Staple Singers' torch to this day, follows with her upbeat version of her father's song "Freedom Highway."

Next, Rhiannon Giddens performs "Julie," which is drawn from a slave narrative about an enslaved woman, whose slavemaster's wife sold her children and hid the bounty. The a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock give a vibrant performance of "Another Man Broke His Word," with their unmistakable rhythm and harmony. Rock and roll mainstays Drive-By Truckers deliver some brutal honesty on "What It Means," which Patterson Hood wrote about injustices endured as recently as eight years ago and still exist today. The set closes with vocalist Paula Cole's rendition of Bob Dylan's 1964 song "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," released on Dylan's 1964 album The Times They Are a-Changin',and included on Cole's 2017 release, Ballads.

Set List

  • Pops Staples, "Why Am I Treated So Bad?"
  • Mavis Staples, "Freedom Highway"
  • Rhiannon Giddens, "Julie"
  • Sweet Honey in the Rock, "Another Man Broke His Word"
  • Drive-By Truckers, "What It Means"
  • Paula Cole, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll"
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