Martin Luther King Jr Day inspires a lot of emotion, from frustration at the current state of racial conflict in America to hopes for a more peaceful future. This Music Monday is dedicated to the different ways we honor the late Dr. King’s memory.
Alicia Keys intended this song as a powerful statement about the racial violence taking place in Ferguson Missouri and around the country at that time. The lyrics evoke violence, conjuring images of fires, sirens, and smoke in the air, but the song also calls for hope. It calls on victims on all sides of the conflict to pray for a peaceful solution and a better tomorrow. There couldn’t be a better anthem for this age of conflict in which peaceful protests are often pushed into violence by a handful of malefactors on both sides.
At a time when tolerance and inclusiveness are at a distinct premium, there’s something incredibly moving about this video by Miki Smith and De’Lasha Singleton. Taking advantage of YouTube these two ladies have translated Keys song into ASL making it available to another community that is often marginalized, the hearing impaired. It’s a wonderful sentiment in a time when communities are polarized to see people using the medium of YouTube to reach and make this song more inclusive.
As powerful today as it was then — Nina Simone singing “Mississippi Goddamn.” Lord have mercy on this land of mine…
Possibly the only song that rivals that Michael Jackson song with everybody getting together to sing it (ditto Bono) is this one by Bob Dylan called “Blowing In The Wind.” Pretty much everybody on Earth knows it, if only for the opening refrain “How many roads must a man walk down…”
To me, this and John Lennon’s “Imagine” are the penultimate peace songs … also Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” CCR’s “Fortunate Son,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The USA … and all those other songs listed above. Okay, fine, there are a lot of songs about peace. There are probably a bunch of classics I forgot (like Kumbaya). The point is: there are a lot of people calling for peace. We should probably do something about that.
Lawrence Park covers “Glory” by John Legend and Common, from the movie “Selma,” wonderfully. The song is about attaining freedom in the world we currently live in. It speaks of the importance of movements and actions, such as the movement in Ferguson, and the action of Rosa Parks. Lawrence does an awesome job covering the song, and also weaves emotional pictures into his cover, thus making the song have a larger impact.
“Imagine” by John Lennon speaks to me as the ultimate song of peace, love, and unity. A few years back, Dave Days took the song and re-imagined is as a collaboration between himself, AJ Rafael, Tiffany Alvord, Amy Heidemann, Jess Delgado, and Sid Sriam. The result? A beautiful ballad, whose proceeds were put to good use and donated to charity.
Share this with your friends and recommend your own songs of remembrance in the comments below.