This is the last day of Black History Month and — obviously — black artists have made far too many contributions to American music to pick a single song that could fairly represent that fact. I briefly thought about using a song by Chuck Berry or Jimi Hendrix or Aretha Franklin or Whitney Houston … only to think about the countless other artists who created equally compelling music, changing the face of American culture along the way. So, choosing to celebrate the end of this important month with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” is not meant to downplay the contributions of any other artist … nor is it meant to argue that Gaye’s contributions to American music are somehow superior to those of his musical peers. I chose this song because Gaye was a wonderful artist who unquestionably changed music … like so many other black artists, living and dead … and because this particular song demands a higher standard from all of us, regardless of race. Arguably, the only way the world will improve is if we all address injustices and inequities head on. So, as we listen to Marvin Gaye on the final day of Black History Month, let’s move beyond his soothing voice and the fantastic instrumental performances and think deeply about the lyrical poetry. “You know we’ve got to find a way to bring some lovin’ here today.”
Tag Archives: music
When Rage Against the Machine wrote “Testify,” the band was pretty clearly thinking about the U.S. government’s willingness to sacrifice lives for political goals, including greater access to foreign oil. Although the circumstances of the song do not perfectly match details surrounding the horrifying death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the outrage seems more than appropriate. Today, declassified intelligence shows that the U.S. has long believed his assassination was ordered by the Saudi Crown Prince. Yet the U.S. government response was nil. “Testify.”
The FDA says that Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine appears to be safe and effective, paving the way toward availability of a third option. Considering all the bad news we’ve had in the last year, optimism seems appropriate, so I give you Howard Jones’ 1985 hit “Things Can Only Get Better.”
Today, America is reeling from news that the nation has lost about as many people to COVID-19 in one year as died in combat during the entirety of the first and second World Wars. This is staggering and heartbreaking, and no song can speak to the enormity of the moment. So, all I can do is choose one of the more beautiful rock songs ever written about loss, Better Than Ezra’s “A Lifetime.” The song is appropriate because it addresses the pain of loss while stressing the importance of honoring the wishes and memories of a deceased loved one. Here’s to the memory of those who have died and hope for better outcomes in coming months.
Big news in my feed today is that NASA’s Perseverance rover is on Mars and ready to search for ancient life. That said, Machine Gun Kelly’s “Concert for Aliens” seems an apt Song of the Day.