Kennedy’s Blues

Kennedy’s Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on JFK


Guido van Rijn presents a compilation and analysis of the many blues and gospel songs written about the inspirational president.

5a. Kennedy's BluesKennedy’s Blues: African American Blues and Gospel Songs on JFK collects in a single volume the blues and gospel songs written by African Americans about the presidency of John F. Kennedy and offers a close analysis of Kennedy’s hold upon the African American imagination. These blues and gospel songs have never been transcribed and analyzed in a systematic way, so this volume provides a hitherto untapped source on the perception of one of the most intriguing American presidents.

After eight years of Republican rule the young Democratic president received a warm welcome from African Americans. However, with the Cold War military draft and the slow pace of civil rights measures, inspiration temporarily gave way to impatience.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, the March on Washington, the groundbreaking civil rights bill–all found their way into blues and gospel songs. The many blues numbers devoted to the assassination and the president’s legacy are evidence of JFK’s near-canonization by African Americans. Blues historian Guido van Rijn shows that John F. Kennedy became a mythical hero to blues songwriters despite what was left unaccomplished

  • Format:                       Paperback
  • Publication Date:        August 2007
  • Price:                          25 Euros
  • Publisher:                   University Press of Mississippi
  • Series:                        American Made Music
  • Format:                       Hardback
  • Publication Date:        July 2010
  • Price:                          50 Euros
  • Publisher:                   University Press of Mississippi
  • Series:                        American Made Music

Product Details:

5b. Agram ABCD 2019Twenty-eight of the songs discussed in the text are available on a CD produced by Agram Blues (ABCD 2019) to accompany this book. Digitally remastered and featuring full liner notes by the author, the CD is a unique historical document of the Kennedy presidency.

Price:   10 Euros


  1. Wilbert Harrison – Drafted
  2. Big Joe WilliamsArmy Man Blues
  3. Teddy Reynolds – I Thought The War Was Over
  4. Jimmy Anderson – Draft Board Blue
  5. Bo Diddley – Mr. Khruschev
  6. Louisiana Red – Red’s Dream
  7. Lulu Reed & Freddy King – Do The President Twist
  8. Robert Parker – Twistin’ Out in Space
  9. Little Willie John – Mister Glenn
  10. Johnny Acey – I Go Into Orbit
  11. Howlin’ Wolf Jr. – Inflation Blues
  12. Emanuel Laskey – Welfare Cheese
  13. Freddy King – (The Welfare) Turns Its Back on You
  14. B.B. King – I’m Gonna Sit In Till You Give In
  15. Louisiana Red – Ride On Red, Ride On
  16. John Lee Hooker –  Birmingham Blues
  17. The Sensational Six of Birmingham, Ala – The Day The World Stood Still
  18. Dixie Nightingales – Assassination
  19. Perry Tillis – Kennedy Moan
  20. Mahalia Jackson – In the Summer of His Years
  21. Bro. Therman Ruth – That Awful Day in Dallas
  22. Otis Spann – Sad Day in Texas
  23. The Southern Bell Singers – The Tragedy of Kennedy
  24. The Birds of Harmony – Tribute To A Great President
  25. Ronda Mitchell & Mrs. Lovell – J.F. Kennedy’s Reservation
  26. Son House – President Kennedy
  27. The Jewel Gospel Singers – The Modern Joshua
  28.  Little Junior – Jackie Don’t You Weep