Ode To A Black Man

Album: Solo In Soho (1980)


  • In this bass-heavy rocker, Phil Lynott celebrates black leaders and cultural icons, shouting out Martin Luther King, Muhammed Ali, Bob Marley, Robert Mugabe, Robert Johnson and Jimi Hendrix. But oddly, he throws shade on Stevie Wonder, making these snide references:

    I don't want no songs for plants
    Wonder released an album in 1979 called Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants.

    I want liberty living in the city
    A reference to Wonder's song "Living for the City."

    Wonder may not have been known for his activism at the time, but he would be soon: Less than a year after Lynott released this song, Wonder led a rally in Washington, D.C. to push Martin Luther King's birthday as a national holiday.
  • Lynott, was the son of a white Catholic single mother at a time when even mere illegitimacy was taboo. His father was from the West Indies. Phil spent time between Manchester and Dublin, moving in mostly white circles, but he identified as black, as is clear in this song.
  • This was part of Phil Lynott's first solo album, Solo In Soho. At the time, the was still active in his group Thin Lizzy, which was more popular than ever.
  • "Ode To A Black Man" was released as the B-side of a song called "King's Call," which is not a tribute to Martin Luther King, but to Elvis Presley. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • That's Huey Lewis, who had recently formed Huey Lewis and the News, on harmonica.

Comments: 1

  • Alpha from Washington, DcWow! When you refer to his upbringing, "comfortable" in what way? Unless you grew up as an Afro in a Euro community I doubt seriously you can judge exactly how comfortable the brother was. Also "doing what he damn well pleased" is a far cry from the fact that he was a drug addict, which by the way is a disease. And unless you've spoken with Stevie Wonder directly you probably shouldn't claim to know what he would or wouldn't take to kindly about. The line was funny but apparently was beyond your sense of humor. This so called "song fact" is nothing but opinion with the only exception being the amount of time the song lasts. What does "inspite of the title" mean anyway?
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Lita Ford

Lita FordSongwriter Interviews

Lita talks about how they wrote songs in The Runaways, and how she feels about her biggest hit being written by somebody else.


QueenFact or Fiction

Scaramouch, a hoople and a superhero soundtrack - see if you can spot the real Queen stories.

Women Who Rock

Women Who RockSong Writing

Evelyn McDonnell, editor of the book Women Who Rock, on why the Supremes are just as important as Bob Dylan.

Graduation Songs

Graduation SongsFact or Fiction

Have you got the smarts to know which of these graduation song stories are real?

Rush: Album by Album - A Conversation With Martin Popoff

Rush: Album by Album - A Conversation With Martin PopoffSong Writing

A talk with Martin Popoff about his latest book on Rush and how he assessed the thousands of albums he reviewed.

Andy McClusky of OMD

Andy McClusky of OMDSongwriter Interviews

Known in America for the hit "If You Leave," OMD is a huge influence on modern electronic music.