WAITING ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE

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

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 years is the heavy metal group, Disturbed, and their rendition of The Sound of Silence.  If you are thinking the title is familiar, it is.  They covered the Simon and Garfunkel hit to great effect. 

simon-garfunkle-greatest-hits-album-cover

Enter The Young, When Songs Had Meaning

There was a time I will describe as being from 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 an 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 a list that goes on and on.  There were some with just a few hits but a 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 some unique wordplays.  “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 good performance video of this song. This one rendered the best sound.

Waiting on the World

It can be a frustrating experience waiting on the world to change. Will the younger composers of songs sing out on the current situation? Or will they see that as hopeless? Will they just wait their turn with the Sound of Silence? Must we continue to rely on the older generation for our social commentary in song? “We keep on waiting.”

And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want
That’s why we’re waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
The Sound of Silence by Paul Simon 1964 Universal Music Publishing Group
Enter The Young by Terry Kirkman 1966 Beachwood Music Corp.
Waiting on The World To Change by John Mayer 2006 Reach Music Publishing

See also: “Disturbed,” SERENDIPITY, November 23, 2018.
Take Some Time To Revive It,” A view of America from Chicago, the band. SERENDIPITY. July 30, 2020.



Categories: Music, Rich Paschall

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. I think we came from an era of great musical talent and that is pretty hard to beat.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s hard to believe that John Mayer has kind of come and gone.
    I do hear songs on the radio that bring a tear to my eye and I have no idea who sings the song. So these are the new kids on the block.
    As always, there is a lot of junk on the radio, but I think there are also many insightful writers putting our “records” these days. The kids are alright.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thiink some of the problem is the death of regular radio. We used to listen to the radio. When the radio began to be “all talk and all advertisements,” we started to listen to our own CDs. Now, we listen to neither and it’s Sirius — the cheapest version you can get. But that’s all oldies since Garry is wedded to Sinatra and jazz singers and I’d rather listen to classical … though that’s a home listening experience. I need to sink into that music. But we used to have a lot of fun listening to Emmy Lou and Beatles and Creedence. Introducing my granddaughter to the Doors and Tom Paxton and Gospel and Phil Ochs and Pete Seeger.

      I’m sure there ARE good new ones out there, but it’s hard to find them amidst the clatter of hip hop and just a lot of noisy music that reminds me of many modern movies: a lot of sound effects and no SCRIPT. Or, in this case, lyrics.

      Liked by 1 person

    • There are a few with social commentary to be sure, but I don’t think they have come out strong. Waiting os not the answer right now, I fear.

      Like

  3. Music has a unique way to send messages to possibly the widest audience in the world. It’s possibly the most accessible forum for social commentary. Lets hope that tradition continues, and that people listen. Well sung, John Mayer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hard to beat Simon and Garfunkle..

    Liked by 1 person

    • April Come She will and Bridge Over Troubled Water. Have you seen “A Mighty Wind”? Directed by Christopher Guest. With Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer. Mockumentary captures the reunion of 1960s folk trio the Folksmen as they prepare for a show at The Town Hall to memorialize a recently deceased concert promoter. It’s a joyful, funny, sentimental remembrance of the folk music of our days … and all the performers sing and play their own voices and instruments. Truly a favorite music, along with a few other Christopher Guest movies like “Best in Show,” all about dog shows.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have so much of that music and it’s still my favorite music. I even have a whole set of Tom Lehrer which is from the fifties — and it’s shockingly relevant.

    Liked by 1 person

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