In the late 1940s, Dick Blakeslee, then a student at the University of Chicago, wrote
“Passing Through”, an exceedingly simple, hopeful and politically committed song. The
lyrics breathed the heady atmosphere of political liberalism and optimism that followed
Allied victory in World War II and preceded the McCarthy era and Cold War freeze. In
1948, a hundred flowers bloomed and “Passing Through” epitomized this.
I saw Jesus on the cross on a hill called Calvary
“Do you hate mankind for what they done to you?”
He said, “Talk of love not hate, things to do – it’s getting late.
I’ve so little time and I’m only passing through.”
Passing through, passing through.
Sometimes happy, sometimes blue,
glad that I ran into you.
Tell the people that you saw me passing through.
I saw Adam leave the Garden with an apple in his hand,
I said “Now you’re out, what are you going to do?”
“Plant some crops and pray for rain, maybe raise a little cane.
I’m an orphan now, and I’m only passing through.”
I was with Washington at Valley Forge, shivering in the snow.
I said, “How come the men here suffer like they do?”
“Men will suffer, men will fight, even die for what is right
even though they know they’re only passing through”
I was with Franklin Roosevelt’s side on the night before he died.
He said, “One world must come out of World War Two” (ah, the fool)
“Yankee, Russian, white or tan,” he said, “A man is still a man.
We’re all on one road, and we’re only passing through.”
“I rode with old Abe Lincoln on that train to Gettysburg
I said: “What are we gonna do?”
He said: “All men must be unconditonally free
Or there is no reason to be passing through.”