Soundtracks of Cinema: ‘Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali’

Blood Brothers Soundtrack - Every Song in the 2021 Netflix Documentary

The Blood Brothers soundtrack incorporates music from Duke Ellington, Curtis Mayfield and Bob Marley. This info article details how the featured songs are used in the 2021 Netflix documentary. Visit the Soundtracks of Cinema section for more Vague Visages music guides.

Directed by Marcus A. Clarke (Unsolved Mysteries), Blood Brothers explores the three-year friendship between Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. The documentary includes testimonies from friends who observed the relationship during the 60s, and also from family members who recall telling conversations with the subjects. Blood Brothers keeps the focus on archival footage and interviews; however, a select group of well-known tracks deepen the impact of key moments, while a jazz-themed score plays under various sociopolitical scenes that explain how and why Ali developed a bond with Malcolm X. Here’s all seven of the featured songs in Blood Brothers.

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Blood Brothers Soundtrack: Every Song in the 2021 Netflix Documentary About Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali

Blood Brothers Soundtrack - Every Song in the 2021 Netflix Documentary

  • “We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue” by Curtis Mayfield (00:21:00): The Blood Brothers soundtrack song plays as Cassius Clay (Ali) returns home to Louisville, Kentucky after the 1960 Olympics. The sequence underlines the societal concept that Black athletes of the time “should be seen and not heard.” Mayfield’s song about segregation thematically aligns with Ali’s willingness to speak out.
  • “Pusherman” by Curtis Mayfield (00:52:00): Clay (Ali) arrives in Miami for his 1964 championship bout against Sonny Liston. Black icons such as Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X all stay at the Hampton House and visit with Clay, the new heavyweight champ. (This historic meeting is fictionalized in the 2020 Amazon Prime movie One Night in Miami.) The Blood Brothers soundtrack song released eight years later but captures Ali’s bravado while dominating his sport.
  • “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley (01:04:00): Malcolm X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, speaks about a photograph taken of Ali and Malcolm X at the United Nations building in New York City. Her father believed that it “captured the imagination, and the support, of the entire dark world.” Marley’s beloved song scores archival footage of Ali arriving in Africa and meeting with locals. Meanwhile, Malcolm X contemplates his future as a leader.

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The Blood Brothers soundtrack also includes:

  • “Celestial Blues” by Rahsaan Roland Kirk
  • “I’m Gonna Leave You by Yourself” by Eddie Harris
  • “Indigo Echoes” by Duke Ellington
  • “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Stan Endicott

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.