Redartz: Nobody enjoys a fun, swinging song more than I. Be it Rock, Pop, Dance, or whatever, a bit of fluff music is always a welcome thing. Nevertheless, there are times when one might want more from a song than a good beat. Popular music history is filled with singers, songwriters and bands who have used the stage as a soapbox. From the folk of Woodie Guthrie to the punk of the Clash, many great tunes have filled the airwaves with thought-provoking, cautionary, introspective, or even sometimes angry lyrics.
In High School, I listened to protest songs from the 60's alongside then-current acts like ABBA and Wings. In college I sat around late nights with other art students (man, those Bohemian days of yore) listening to, and discussing, the musical proclamations from the Police , Heaven 17 and U2. In more recent years I've discovered so much more meaningful musings from the worlds of blues, jazz, and soul. It continues to be a most rewarding exploration.
You're probably waiting with great anticipation for a few examples. Well, wait no more; here are three songs which have moved, inspired, and engaged me: one from before our Bronze age, one from the Bronze, and one from after the Bronze (just to cover all the bases, you know).
Sam Cooke; "A Change is Gonna Come"
I'd known Sam Cooke only from his pop songs (which were great). Upon hearing this for the first time, I was mentally staggered. Which is more powerful, the lyrics or Cooke's heart wrenching performance? Impossible to tell, but this song still chills me to the very soul.
Three Dog Night: "Out in the Country"
This song got to me (and still does) on a very personal level. TDN seemed to be singing for me: "...Out where the rivers like to run, I stand alone and take back somethin' worth rememberin'." In my youth, when I was hurting or upset, I sought the refuge of the woods, away from people. Nature remains a source of healing, and this song evokes that well.
Michael Jackson: "Earth Song"
MJ's greatest song, in my opinion. Rarely has this world's painful afflictions been so effectively skewered. As the video shows, the suffering is borne by, and the hope rests upon, the ordinary people all over. I can never hear this, or watch this video, without being brought to tears. Agonizingly amazing.
All these songs, and these performances, hit me deeply. But it's a good hit, and it's an impact that is good for the soul. They make me think, make me feel, make me want to try to make the world a little better. It may be naive or corny, but our world sure needs a little prompting to it's better nature.
And now, it's time for your input. What songs, what performers, have truly moved you; pushed you, made you sit and think in the dark? Let's hear about the music that hits close to home for you...