In June, Prince‘s estate announced a new album of unreleased songs compiled of rehearsal recordings from the early ’80s entitled Piano & A Microphone would be released this fall, leading off the collection with the soulful single “Mary Don’t You Weep.” Shortly afterward, director Spike Lee scooped up the song for his recently-released, critically-acclaimed film Blackkklansman, out now via Focus Features. Now, Lee has released a video for the moving song featuring a montage of stunning shots from the film and behind-the-scenes footage, turning it into an ode to victims of racist violence.
The song “Mary Don’t You Weep” is a Negro Spiritual originating from before the Civil War, retelling the Biblical story of Mary of Bethany and her pleas to Jesus to raise her brother Lazarus from the dead. It also contains themes of liberation, with references to the Hebrews’ Exodus from Egypt and the rainbow covenant to Noah after the great flood, allowing it to be repurposed for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It was famously sung by the late Aretha Franklin for her 1972 album Amazing Grace. Here, Prince strips it down to simply his vocals and a gospel-influenced piano riff that doesn’t take a single iota of emotion away.
Piano & A Microphone also features an acoustic version of “Purple Rain” and a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case Of You.” It’s due September 21, 2018, via NPG and Warner Bros. Records. Pre-order it here.
Prince is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music.