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 from my point of view. 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, global pandemic, and political divide you might expect more young voices to be heard. Consider the list below. Will anyone give us such a list of songs today?


Enter The Young, When Songs Had Meaning

1967-1971 protests at Columbia University in NYC

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.”   It 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.) The hard-hitting song was the B-side of the pop hit, “Never My love.”

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

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15 replies

  1. I still favor “We didn’t start the fire” because it’s almost a history of “our times.” Billy Joel. Nice, local Long Island guy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My son assures me that there ARE meaningful songs even now, but you have to know who to listen for. I’m so out of touch, I wouldn’t know.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m sure there must be songs with meaningful lyrics out there today, but I’m guessing they’re further away from the mainstream than those of decades of the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the mainstream is controlled by image makers and advertisers. Those with a message can still break through via social media.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think it depends. Music is much more varied now than it was when we were younger. I remember everything was part of a genre or trend, but now, it’s all over the place. An awful lot of it (in my opinion) displays a sincere lack of talent by performers but that’s not universally true. I think the social media/virtual music pattern has changed how we hear music. And what we hear.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Did you remember all the songs mentioned? I have heard of most of them, but didn’t recognize the lyrics you entered. I’ll watch it later when I have more time.. Dylan said most of it but half of his stuff was banned from the radio. Lennon’s “Imagine” was one of my favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

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