Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
And Still We Sing
Date: January 25th (listen any day or time)
Source: Spotify List
The famed Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore said that “God respects me when I work, but he loves me when I sing.” Contemporary Canadian writer, Louise Penny, tells us “we don't just sing; we are the song,” while the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, who gave the world Don Quixote, told us that “He who sings scares away his woes.”
Martin Luther King Jr. felt strongly about music. In fact, his speeches frequently refer to the power of songs. “The freedom songs are playing a strong and vital role in our struggle,” said King, during the Albany Movement. “They give the people new courage and a sense of unity. In Why We Can’t Wait, his 1964 book, he wrote that civil rights activists “sing the freedom songs today for the same reason the slaves sang them, because we too are in bondage and the songs add hope to our determination that ‘We shall overcome, Black and white together, We shall overcome someday’
We are all part of common humanity. When lives get torn apart, injustice threatens to divide us, but when we can see hope in the distance--we sing—we sing loudly and with a passion to shatter the walls of injustice. Spirituals have been rewritten to address new happenings and songs are being penned to commemorate monumental events that should never have happened.
What follows is a global compilation of songs we must keep singing to remind us of our past and give us energy to build a new future.
The Playlist in Order of Presentation.
Imagine (John Lennon)
"Imagine" is a song by English rock musician John Lennon from his 1971 album of the same name. The best-selling single of his solo career, the lyrics encourage listeners to imagine a world of peace, without materialism, without borders separating nations and without religion.
Circle Game (Joni Mitchell)
In this poetic song, Joni Mitchell tells the story of a child's journey to adulthood. She uses a carousel as a metaphor for the years that go by, pointing out how we can look back, but we can't return to our past.The song opens with the young boy enjoying the wonder of youth, but looking forward to getting older. In the second verse, he is 16 and driving. The final verse finds him at 20, with his dreams tempered a bit, but still with high hopes for his future.
Singing for Our Lives (Holly Near)
This song was written on the occasion of the assassination of San Francisco mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk. Milk was gay and the two were murdered because of the homophobia of Dan White, a former member of the city supervisors who blamed Milk for his problems.
Universal Soldier (Buffy Sainte-Marie)
"Universal Soldier" is a song written and recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. The song was originally released on Sainte-Marie's debut album It's My Way! in 1964. "Universal Soldier" was not an immediate popular hit at the time of its release, but it did garner attention within the contemporary folk music community. It became a hit a year later when Donovan covered it, as did Glen Campbell. Sainte-Marie said of the song: It's about individual responsibility for war and how the old feudal thinking kills us all.
El Pueblo Unido Jamas Se Vencido (Quilapayún)
“The People United Will Never be Defeated" is one of the most internationally renowned songs of the Nueva Canción Chilena (New Chilean Song) movement. The music of the song was composed by Sergio Ortega and the text written by
Libertad (Nana Mousaki)
When you sing I sing with your freedom
When you cry I also cry your pain
When you tremble I pray for your freedom
Libertad is from Nabucc, an Italian-language opera in four acts composed in 1841 by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera. The libretto is based on the biblical books of 2 Kings, Jeremiah, Lamentations and Daniel and the 1836 play by Auguste Ancient-Bourgeois and Francis Cornu.
Let Us All Come Together (Sweet Honey)
Song in the American tradition whose words have been changed several times to meet the times.
The Great Peace March (Holly Near)
The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, Inc. (also referred to as The Great Peace March, GPM, and the March) was a cross-country U.S. event in 1986 aimed at raising awareness to the growing danger of nuclear proliferation and to advocate for complete, verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons from the earth.
Quiero Verte Feliz (La Santa Cecila and Lila Downs)
“Quiero Verte Feliz” is offered in an album of the same name. From a description of the album: “It represents our strength and hope during some of the toughest times we’ve ever known. A warm, loving hand inviting you to dance, live, and love with us again! It was made with all the faith that we would see each other soon to rejoice in life with all of you once again! We love you.” Grammy Award-winning quartet La Santa Cecilia is joined in “Quiero Verte Feliz" by Mexican singer, Lila Downs)
Teach Your Children (Tula and Playing for Change)
"Teach Your Children" is a song by Graham Nash. Nash, who is also a photographer and collector of photographs, has stated in an interview that the immediate inspiration for the song came from a famous photograph by Diane Arbus, "Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park." The image, which depicts a child with an angry expression holding the toy weapon, prompted Nash to reflect on the societal implications of messages given to children about war and other issues.
Un Derecho de Nacimiento (Natalie LaFourcade)
"A birthright " is a song composed in 2012 by the Mexican singer-songwriter Natalia Lafourcade for the collective called # MúsicosconYoSoy132 inspired by the student-citizen movement # YoSoy132 or also called "Primavera Mexicana". The song is a hymn for the movement.
Shir Lashalom (Zamir Chorale of Boston)
Shir LaShalom (Hebrew: שיר לשלום A Song for Peace) is a popular Israeli song that has become an anthem for the Israeli peace movement. Shir LaShalom was written by Yaakov Rotblit and set to music by Yair Rosenblum. It was first performed in 1969 by the Infantry Ensemble (להקת הנחל) of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as part of its Sinai Infantry Outpost program, during the War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt.
Biko (Peter Gabriel and Playing for Change)
"Biko" is an anti-apartheid protest song by English rock musician Peter Gabriel. The song is a musical eulogy, inspired by the death of the black South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko in police custody on 12 September 1977. Gabriel wrote the song after hearing of Biko's death on the news.
I Find It Hard to Say (Lauryn Hill)
“I Find It Hard to Say” was written by Hill in response to the 1999 shooting of black 22-year-old Amadou Diallo by New York police, it's just as impactful in 2016 as it was upon its original 2002 release – lyrics include "You think our lives are cheap, and easy to be wasted / As history repeats, so foul you can taste it.”
O’ Mary Don’t You Weep (Bruce Springsteen)
"Mary Don't You Weep” is a Spiritual that originates from before the American Civil War–thus it is what scholars call a "slave song," "a label that describes their origins among the enslaved," and it contains "coded messages of hope and resistance.” It is one of the most important of Black spirituals.
Pata Pata (Miriam Makeba and Angelique Kidjo)
Here we present two versions of Pata Pata. The first by Miriam Makeba who became an icon of the anti-apartheid struggle, but her long history of involvement in fighting racial oppression also raised the song’s profile. In 2020, Angélique Kidjo gave Pata Pata a pandemic-era update. The Beninese singer views Mama Africa’s ‘party song’ as an anthem highlighting the injustices of apartheid.
We Shall Overcome Someday (Bill Frisell)
Well-respected jazz guitarist Bill Frisell released an animated music video to accompany his rendition of “We Shall Overcome.”Frisell told a reporter about his feeling for the song and how he has internalized it, saying: Like when you’re walking and humming or whistling, almost unconscious that you’re doing it — that’s what you want,” he says. “That’s what ‘We Shall Overcome’ is. It’s in us, the melody and the words. When I play it, the song is like a jungle gym you can play around in. The song is there, and you can take off anywhere.”
Freedom (Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar)
"Freedom" is a song recorded by American singer Beyoncé featuring American rapper Kendrick Lamar. The song was written by Jonny Coffer, Beyoncé, Carla Marie Williams, Dean McIntosh and Kendrick Lamar; it contains samples of "Let Me Try", written by Frank Tirado, performed by Kaleidoscope; samples of "Collection Speech/Unidentified Lining Hymn", recorded by Alan Lomax in 1959, performed by Reverend R.C. Crenshaw; and samples of "Stewball", recorded by Alan Lomax and John Lomax, Sr. in 1947, performed by Prisoner "22" at Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.
Finlandia (Joan Baez)
Finlandia, Op. 26, is a tone poem by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It was written in 1899 and revised in 1900. The piece was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899, a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire, and was the last of seven pieces performed as an accompaniment to a tableau depicting episodes from Finnish history.
With words written in 1940 by Veikko Antero Koskenniemi, it is one of the most important national songs of Finland. Although not the official national anthem of Finland, it has been continuously proposed as such. Other major uses of the tune include several Christian hymns and other national songs.
This Land (Yael Deckelbaum and the “Prayer of the Mothers” Ensemble)
“This Land” is performed by the all woman ensemble, uniting on one stage 14 secular, religious, Arabic, Christian and Jewish women coming together through a celebration of womanhood, the message of a new world—a world where we learn to see the beauty of our diversity, unite above religions and nationalities and restore the forgotten values of humanity, authenticity, kindness, mutual responsibility and hope.
Peace Train (Cat Stevens)
"Peace Train" is a 1971 song by Cat Stevens. during the Iraq War he commented on the song's renewed relevance, saying: "'Peace Train' is a song I wrote, the message of which continues to breeze thunderously through the hearts of millions. There is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again. As a member of humanity and as a Muslim, this is my contribution to the call for a peaceful solution."
War/ No More Trouble (Bono and Playing for Change)
"War" is a song recorded and made popular by Bob Marley. The lyrics are almost literally derived from a speech made by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, before the United Nations General Assembly in 1963. The song calls for equality among all without regard to race, class, or nationality in his hymnal cry for peace. It also asserts that until the day of an equal society, there will be war.
We Shall Overcome (Nimo Patel and Daniel Nahmod)
Nimo Patel and Daniel Nahmod invite us to reflect upon what ‘freedom’ really means. True freedom, is for all beings across the planet, to be free from suffering. This song is dedicated to that movement. The movement to overcome suffering and violence, through a heart-based revolution for all beings that breathe on this planet.
We Shall Overcome! Love will and is rising again! One heart at a time. A slow and gradual but strong revolution from the deepest space of humanity, the heart.