For all of the 21st century so far, I have been looking for the music with social relevance.  Yes there have been a few songs, but not much in these sixteen years.  And who are the young writers contributing songs with meaning this century?  Neil Young, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, U2?  

Those guys are still at it, but in this era of social unrest, you might expect more young voices to be heard.  Getting a good deal of notice in recent weeks is the heavy metal group, Disturbed, and their rendition of Sounds of Silence.  If you are thinking the title is familiar, it is.  They covered the Simon and Garfunkel hit to great effect. 


Enter The Young, When Songs Had Meaning

There was a time I will describe as late Beatles up to pre-disco when many songs had a deeper meaning, that is to say, a “social commentary”.  The air was filled with thoughtful and thought-provoking lyrics.  Some will argue that these songs helped to sway a nation toward greater equality and away from a war of questionable merits.  For a while, many songwriters abandoned “Ooh baby, baby,” to write about war, race, poverty, inhumanity and life in the ghetto rather than life on “easy street”.  This was the era in songwriting where the words were as important as the notes being played.

Here they come, yeah
Some are walking, some are riding
Here they come, yeah
And some are flying, some just gliding
Released after years of being kept in hiding
They’re climbing up the ladder rung by rung

Bob Dylan had been speaking to us for years, but suddenly so was McCartney and Lennon, then John Lennon on his own.  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Carol King, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Curtis Mayfield, Lou Reed, Marvin Gaye can all be added to the list and on and on.  There were many more with just a few hits but big social impact.

Enter the young, yeah
Yeah, they’ve learned how to think
Enter the young, yeah
More than you think they think
Not only learned to think, but to care
Not only learned to think, but to dare

My absolute favorite among the thoughtful lyrics were those done by a group called The Association.  They are probably best known for their hit songs “Cherish,” “Windy” and “Along Comes Mary.”  These songs are filled with clever rhymes and many unique “play on words.”  “Cherish” taught me I could rhyme that word with “perish” and I used it for a wedding lyric years later.

Yeah, here they come
Some with questions, some decisions
Here they come
And some with facts and some with visions

Of a place to multiply without the use of divisions
To win a prize that no one’s ever won

They also commented on society in songs like “The Time It is Today,” “Enter the Young,” and the biting and rather haunting sounds of “Requiem For The Masses.”  This was filled with the symbolism of those that died for the red, white and blue as well as dealing with the issues of race (“Black and white were the questions that so bothered him, he never asked, he was taught not to ask, but was on his lips as they buried him.)  Yes, the same group that gave us “Never My Love” could come around again and whack you with a social message…hard.

Here they come, yeah
Some are laughing, some are crying
Here they come
And some are doing, some are trying
Some are selling, some are buying
Some are living, some are dying
But demanding recognition one by one

They did get recognition, along with many other such groups, if only for a moment in musical history.  Where are  the meaningful song lyrics of today?  I wonder.

Not only learned to think, but to care
Not only learned to think, but to dare

I wore out this album as I found every song to be worthy of constant replay.  I was a teenager, I thought it was great.  All these years later, I still do.  I chose the video above as I could find no performance of this song except a weak cover version and this one rendered the best sound.

Enter The Young by Terry Kirkman 1966 Beachwood Music Corp.

Categories: Music, Rich Paschall

Tags: , , , , , , ,

20 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Sunday Night Blog and commented:

    Here’s an article from last year at this time, and I am still looking for the songs of social relevance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The music industry is so stifled that only ditties full of empty commercialisms is going to be promoted. Great post Rich.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Leslie, the other day someone of a certain generation listed on Facebook old New York radio stations they remembered. The list included WMGM-AM which used to play rock ‘n roll with a weekly countdown from 100 to one. I avidly listened to Peter Tripp’s “Your Hits of the Week” everyday for the countdowns to see where my favorite songs were that week. Those were the days of Elvis, Fats, Ricky, Connie Francis, The Platters, etc.
      There was also WNEW-AM, my favorite station which played standards. Sinatra, Ella, Lady Day, Tony Bennett, etc. There was a host (didn’t call himself a DJ), William B. Williams who considered himself a member of the “Rat Pack”, an associate of “The Chairman of the Board”, Frank Sinatra. I copied his style in my college radio days. I mentally turn red when remembering how I introed music by Bill Basie – as if we were close pals.
      Truly halcyon days of music.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds of Silence was a song for a generation. Except you know, I still don’t really know what it means. I understand the words, but not the intent. I’m not sure the authors did, either. It’s beautiful Haunting even. But what’s the message?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. And lets not forget the great song writers of the first half of the 20th century, Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin and the like. those were all great songs written by masters of music composition and word smithing. Not much going on these days in the “good song” department, plus they all sound the same. Technology has zoomed ahead and creative genius has fallen back. These days you don’t have to know how to sing in tune because we invented an algorithm labeled “Auto-Tune” to correct the blunders of the untalented and turn them into stars. Don’t get me started now….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Some of the current stars sound like robots to me with all the voice fixing that goes on, and the lyrics are rarely interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ben, when I got up this morning, I was singing “A Tisket, a tasket..” and remembering Ella Fitzgerald. No obvious reason. I just love Ella.
      I don’t recall which day or year the music died for me but it’s all a wasteland now.
      This is a terrific post!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I still do too love these songs and lyrics and have the vinyls still that sound so rich. Marvin Gaye had some great songs too about the environment; Tracy Chapman and Fast Cars singing about society. Great post!! Makes me want to take out some of these and play them again.

    Liked by 3 people

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