Si Kahn’s Gone, Gonna Rise Again is a great American song, much covered. But there is just one absolutely definitive, great, recorded version. It’s not American!
If you were to hear many of the recorded versions of Gone, Gonna Rise Again – including, even, some by its author – you might well find the song a tad tedious, “worthy”, saccharine, preachy, bland, a suitable target for Tom Lehrer.
You would be dead wrong if you were to assume that Si Kahn is a smug, self-congralutory, armchair socialist “folkie”. He has in fact always “walked”, not just “talked” – a veteran organiser, activist, author and scholar…and he has written more than one superb song.
However, on recordings at least, Si is not his best songs’ best conveyor.
His original recording of Gone, Gonna Rise Again appeared in 1974, on Si’s debut LP, New Wood.
Nearly a quarter of a century later a Scotsman “owned” the song, with an uncanny solo version – much more intimate and “personal”, and at the same time immensely more powerful, vivid.
Here, the song’s greatness becomes inescapably evident:
The performance is on Dick Gaughan‘s 1998 album Redwood Cathedral; this is but one of a considerable number of examples of Gaughan’s uncanny ability to “get more out of a song” than has any other singer – its author included.