The magnificent Louis Armstrong was born on this day in 1901, in New Orleans.
His well-known hit, ‘What a Wonderful World’, always makes me stop momentarily and think about the song’s simple message (as does, to a lesser extent, ‘We Have All the Time in the World’). Isn’t it a beautiful song?
A few examples of similarly thought-provoking lines:
“Hurricane Annie ripped the ceiling off a church and killed everyone inside
You turn on the telly and every other story is tellin’ you somebody died
A sister killed her baby ’cause she couldn’t afford to feed it
And yet we’re sending people to the moon” — Prince, ‘Sign o’ the Times’
“On the quilted battlefields of soldiers dazzling made of toy tin
The big bomb like a child’s hand could sweep them dead just so to win
For seagull, I don’t want your wings
I don’t want your freedom in a lie” — Donovan, ‘Ballad of a Crystal Man’
There are so many others that propel themselves to the forefront of my memory without requiring me to fumble for them: the Eagles’ ‘Long Road out of Eden’, the Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, Neil Young’s ‘Southern Man’, Marvin Gaye’s ‘Mercy Mercy Me’, a good two dozen (at least) by Bob Dylan…
Yet the one that graces the page today through the gift of YouTube is Michael Jackson’s ‘Man In the Mirror’. Whether or not you care for the Man or his Mirror, and I suspect that much of the world’s media-saturated population is by now sick to the back teeth of following, or trying to avoid following the vile, desperate frenzy that continues to surround his sad death, the line “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change” is a powerful one.
Anything that makes you think, please – from any artist you care to mention, but I’d like in addition an example from David’s and Pink Floyd’s considerable back catalogue. I’m thinking of ‘The Fletcher Memorial Home’ from 1983’s often over-looked and, in my opinion, under-rated ‘Final Cut’ album.
Oh, and if you’d rather keep the lyrics owner-less, I’m sure it would be an interesting experiment not to reveal who they were recorded, if not written, by. As well as a welcome test of memory for some of us, there’s a lot of snobbery in music and perhaps it would create surprised appreciation toward those acts that fans of a certain genre are, in ignorance, not expected to like. Would you agree?
A new video compilation featuring David with Amadou & Mariam, at the ‘hidden’ Crisis gig in May, is now on the site, by the way. Hope you enjoy it.