We love music and Black music and as we approach this all- important election, I’ve been thinking about the role it’s played to motivate us to do the right thing. Without picking up a book (not that I’m encouraging that) we can look back at our album, eight-track, cassette, cd collections and iTunes libraries to get a historic look at our fight for equality (We Shall Not be Moved and We Shall Overcome, various artists), succeeding against the odds (How I Got Over, Mahalia Jackson), the impact of the Vietnam War (War, What is it Good For, Edwin Starr), Black pride(Say it Loud, James Brown), Blaxploitation, (Super Fly, Curtis Mayfield), chaos in America (What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye), push for a national holiday for MLK (Happy Birthday, Stevie Wonder), more chaos (Wake Up Everybody, Teddy Pendergrass), the effort to end hunger (We Are the World, various artists ) and love for our country (Whitney’s Star Spangled Banner).
The thing about anthems is, that no matter what era they’re written and recorded in, they’re timeless. Listen to the words of Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me, recorded in 1971.
“Oh Mercy mercy me.
Oh, things aren’t what they used to be
Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas, fish full of mercury.
Oh, mercy mercy me.
Oh, things at what they used to be
No no, radiation in the ground and in the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying.”
Those lyrics are just as applicable today as they were more than 40 years ago.
Not that you have to go to the “way back” machine to find a song worthy of anthem-status. It just depends on who you ask. The last 15 years have brought us a salute to natural beauty (I am Not My Hair, India Arie), love for our black men (Brotha, Angie Stone), yet more chaos (Jesus Walks, Kanye West) and even a positive solution to high gas prices, tornadoes and more racial strife (Kirk Franklin’s Smile).
I would have thought that living to see the election of the first modern day African-American president would have been the spring board for a whole lot music but to be honest, not many songs come to mind. If I’m wrong, help me out. What are the songs that remind you of the 2008 presidential election and, more importantly, what music do you think will motivate us to register and vote in 2012? Tweet me, text me at 646464, post your responses on Facebook or comment on the blog on BlackAmericaWeb.com.