This song is a tribute to those involved in the battle for civil rights. The title refers to Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last verse in the song refers to "Bobby" - JFK's brother, Robert Kennedy. Everyone mentioned in the song has died ("has anybody here seen my old friend...") and this is symbolized by their progression over a hill.
This has been covered by the Brothers Four, Ray Charles, Kenny Rogers, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Mahalia Jackson, and Moms Mabley
This was written by the rockabilly singer Dick Holler (who also wrote the novelty hit "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron"). Dion had just recovered from heroin addiction and was offered this as a possible comeback song. It made it to #4 on the Hot 100 and reestablished Dion in the music business.
Bob Dylan performed this on his 1980-81 tour.
Initially, Dion detested the song, but he has since come to understand its legacy, telling one interviewer, "I realized that what these four guys had in common was a dream... It was like they had the courage to believe that a state of love really can exist."
Dion claimed to have received over 4,000 letters thanking him for recording this song.
P.S. As I was googling facts about this song, I came upon a post from a cabdriver back in 2010. It really touched me. I thought I would share it.
I was in the thrift store just the other day, they always have a pretty good oldies channel on the PA. And the radio played ďAbraham, Martin, and JohnĒ.
I was a teenager when the song was a hit. It has to have been at least 20 years since Iíd last heard it.
Granted, Iím an incorrigible romantic. But Iíd swear, by the third verse there wasnít a dry eye in the house. There were a lot of people in the place. Mostly Mexicans and Asians, for what itís worth. It got pretty quiet.
Nothing there but the song. After all these years.
You know, itís one of those lyrics thatís so simple and direct, such an idealization, that itís easy to dismiss it as sappy. But I dunno, maybe itís the deliveryÖit still knocks me over, just like it did when I was a junior high school kid in the 1960s, with a feathered cap, and a wooden sword.
cabdriver - 12 years ago
Jan. 31, 2010