Friday, September 17, 2010


Wake up everybody no more sleepin in bed
No more backward thinkin time for thinkin ahead
The world has changed so very much
From what it used to be so
there is so much hatred war an' poverty

If the song sounds like the socially-charged soul music of the seventies, that's because it is; John Legend and The Roots are covering a classic from Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. They've updated it a little, but not much, and you can almost imagine we're back in a time when lyrics were relevant and political and people were committed to positive change--instead of greed, infotainment and the mindless acquisition of material things. Wait, I'm lying. Back in the day folks were like that, too, and we still had rampant racism and an unpopular war, poverty and drugs, reactionary fundamentalists and corporate piggishness--but there seemed to be less cynicism and more heart and some folks -- SOME FOLKS, I reiterate -- were actively working to change the world. Contrary to popular opinion, most people were not, but back then a few hearty souls stuck their necks out to stop a war and fight for civil rights. There was a cultural revolution, too, in music and art and social values. On top of that, people weren't afraid to look foolish attempting the impossible. That's the thing. I can almost hear the cynicism lapping up like waves. That was a Utopian time, people say, all that corny Age of Aquarius crap, and the movement was unsuccessful, anyway. Maybe so. I know I sound like an old nostalgic geezer even suggesting otherwise, but what the hell. I could easily pit that movement against the movements of today, the selfish land grab materialism that got us into this mess, the siege mentality that makes us afraid of our neighbors and turns the homeland into a garrison state, the religious superstition and anti-intellectualism that masks the age old fears with a brand new glossy finish. You can argue economics, politics and social science all you want, and I'm willing to meet on common ground and discuss it, but one thing is beyond discussion. The music. Listen.

Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes: I'd put Philly Soul against anything on the radio today.

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