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Last modified 6/18/17

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Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody—Joan Baez (Wildflowers)

Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round was originally an African American Gospel spiritual that probably arose around the turn of the 20th century,.  In the 1960s, it became an important song during the civil rights movement.  The author (or authors) is unknown.

Like many other civil rights songs,  Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round was sung in unison so those singing it knew in advance which verses were to be sung, and in which order.  Interestingly, the lyrics have always been rather fluid and in fact, the original title was even changed over time.  When it was written, the spiritual was called Don’t You Let Nobody Turn You Around and its earliest renditions were probably sung using a “call & response” pattern. In the protest-oriented versions, the line "walkin' into Glory land" or "walkin' into Heaven land" was replaced with the line, "marchin' into Freedom land".

The first known recording of the song was done in 1924 by the Dixie Jubilee Singers.  The Fairfield Four also recorded a version in 1947.  It was first printed with music in 1927 in Clarence Cameron White’s Forty Negro Spirituals.

During the summer of 1962, when demonstrations arose in Albany, Georgia, Reverend Ralph Abernathy brought the spiritual to the African American community at the Mount Zion Baptist Church.  Like the song We Shall Overcome,   Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round immediately caught on and became widely used in demonstrations throughout the decade.

Joan Baez has sung several versions of the song, including one with the lyrics, “Ain't gonna let that Henry Kissinger turn me around”, which she often used to protest the Vietnam War.

Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody

2Turn Me Around (2).mp3