Listen to this track by singer-songwriter and musical collaboration stylist Elvis Costello, and go-to New Orleans piano-man and songwriter Allen Toussaint. It’s “Freedom For the Stallion”, a gospel-tinged song re-interpreted here as a key track on their 2006 Joe Henry-produced collaborative album River In Reverse.
This album brought together the two artists, plus Elvis’ backing band The Imposters, guitarist Anthony “A.B” Brown, and the Crescent City Horns. The song is an older tune by Toussaint, recorded by acts that include Lee Dorsey, The Hues Corporation, and Three Dog Night. Even Bob Dylan had a shot at it.
This widespread coverage of the song may be because it’s such a succinct lament of the state of the world, a true protest song, with a genuine message that is all-too relevant as much today (if not more so) as it was when it was written.
The arrangement here ramps up the gospel feel on it, and Costello’s voice is plaintive and very connected to the material, a pleading prayer for justice in a world where the greedy and the heartless profit, while others suffer the effects. .
In 2006, the song was in a very specific context, although no less grave than it is today. Read more