Monday, January 17, 2005

Simple song of freedom

As long as we're being nostalgic about '60s "protest" songs (what a crappy label! Many of these so-called protest songs were not negative, but rather an affirmation of what most decent humans felt were some pretty basic rights, emotions, and covenants) we should include this wonderful simple lovely song.

Bobby Darin has undergone somewhat of a media metamorphosis lately, largely due to Kevin Spacey's brilliant revival of Darin's career in the movie "Beyond The Sea." In truth, I had forgotten just how strong a personality Darin was, as he navigated his career from the early Brill Building formulaic rock of "Splish Splash" through "Mack The Knife" and landing eventually at this thoughtful song.

Written in 1969 at perhaps the nexus of the early '60s Cold War with the civil rights movement and anti-war movement of the late '60s/early '70s, it simply and humbly asked for a chance to consider what was at stake. While politicians were carving out great chunks of constituencies to plunder for power, many people in America were growing increasingly weary of the Cold War, and, shaken by the loss of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, more and more people were coming to question the direction of the country. The Viet Nam war was making less sense, and many people were truly horrified by the images from the freedom marches of Selma and Birmingham.

Into this confusion came Darin's "Simple Song Of Freedom":

Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you've never sung before
Let it fill the air
Tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don't want a war.

Hey, there, mister black man, can you hear me?
I don't want your diamonds or your game
I just want to be someone known to you as me
And I will bet my life you want the same.

Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air
Tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war.

Seven hundred million are ya list'nin’?
Most of what you read is made of lies
But, speakin’ one to one ain't it everybody's sun
To wake to in the mornin’ when we rise?

Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air
Tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war.

Brother Solzhenitsyn, are you busy?
If not, won't you drop this friend a line
Tell me if the man who is plowin' up your land
Has got the war machine upon his mind?

Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air
Tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war.

Now, no doubt some folks enjoy doin' battle
Like presidents, prime ministers and kings
So, let's all build them shelves
Where they can fight among themselves
Leave the people be who love to sing.

Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air
Tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war.

I say … let it fill the air …
Tellin’ people everywhere …
We, the people, here don't want a war.