Music Monday – Free Your Mind

It’s the holiday celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday so this week’s Music Monday is overcoming prejudice.  Anyone with half a brain could write about the problems that exist in the world between people of different races so I won’t spend much time on this.  I’ll just say that we’ll never completely overcome racism and prejudice.  As long as people look and sound different, come from different backgrounds, etc., there will always be people who dislike them.  As a society, though, we have made great strides in squashing it.  As a society, we have become and continue to become less tolerant of those who are racist, sexist, etc.  That being said, on with the music…

Free Your Mind by En Vogue
(released 1992; peaked #8 US Hot 100, #12 New Zealand, #13 US Pop, #15 Netherlands, #16 UK, #19 Canada)

Why oh why must it be this way?
Before you can read me you gotta learn how to see me, I said
Free your mind and the rest will follow
Be color blind, don’t be so shallow… FREE YOUR MIND!

This song is easily my favorite by En Vogue.  It has a great beat and the vocals are outstanding, tinged with anger, but not quite shouted.  The lyrics are very pointed, as well, challenging stereotypes and asking the listener to see the person, not just the color.

I Believe by Blessid Union of Souls
(released 1995; peaked #8 US Hot 100, #2 US Pop, #5 US Adult Contemporary, #6 Canada, #7 New Zealand)

I’ve been seeing Lisa now for a little over a year
She said she’s never been so happy but Lisa lives in fear
That one day daddy’s gonna find out she’s in love
With a nigger from the streets
Oh, how he would lose it then, but she’s still here with me
‘Cause she believes that love will see it through
And one day he’ll understand
And he’ll see me as a person, not just a black man

A well written song about overcoming social issues.

The King by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five
(released 1988; not released as a single)

We have to bring the whites to the black man’s side
walk hand in hand and show we have black pride

This song begins with King’s “Dream” speech and then rolls into Grandmaster Flash’s verses.

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Music Monday – “Free at Last”

Unless you’re living in a cave, you’ve probably heard of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most well-known civil rights leaders in the United States…even if you aren’t from the U.S.  Today is the U.S. federal holiday in celebration of his birthday.  As such, today’s Music Monday will focus on songs about him and his cause.

I first saw this video for Miri Ben-Ari’s “Symphony of Brotherhood” a few years ago while helping out with a MLK Day program.  Great song and video.

Roger Taylor said “The original words were actually about Martin Luther King, Jr.“, but that they got changed a bit by the rest of the group, Queen.  If you listen to the song, though, you can still hear a lot of the lines as originally written by Taylor about MLK and his hope for the future.

“I had a dream
When I was young
A dream of sweet illusion
A glimpse of hope and unity
And visions of one sweet union”

While U2 may have had a factual error in their lyrics (MLK was not shot in the early morning), it shows the global recognition and impact of King’s struggle and his vision that a band big into making political statements with their music chose to reference him in this song, as well as MLK, a lullaby to King on the album An Unforgettable Fire.

“Free at last,
they took your life,
they could not take your pride”

Finally, we have Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five with “The King” from the album On The Strength, released in 1988.  The song begins with a sampling from King’s “I Have A Dream Speech.”

“Listen to the words, see if you understand
the trials and tribulations of one black man
For the man who lived and died for the struggle and cause
let’s have a moment, a second, a silence, a pause”

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