Music that was part of a movement

It goes without saying, we’re living in unprecedented trying times. Times like these are never dreamed of, and as much as we want to fathom or reason the cause behind them, we’re left defeated. There’s so much of information and misinformation floating around the internet, but one thing that particularly caught my attention was people writing and composing music (not Dhinchak Pooja, ouch). How these songs go down the history lane, we’ll probably never know. But there are some songs, that we’re perhaps familiar with, which were originally written to support a certain cause/movement. Some even written during world jolting pandemics; almost like the one we’re in now.

Despedida — Shakira, EP 

I’m sure a lot of people know of the book Love in the time of Cholera. I in fact noticed someone’s story on Instagram that read Love in the time of Cholera Corona. This master piece written by Gabriel Marquez is a story that transcends the Tesseract. But the thoughts of the writer were quite divergent. He once said in an interview “Be careful, you do not fall into my trap”. He worked with Shakira herself to pen down the lyrics to this song apparently for the shallow thinkers of the world. The title is a pun; choleric in English also denotes passion or rage. It was written to look like a love story for the mundane readers who only see what they want to see. The song is pure genius—like one of the comments on YouTube aptly describes my thoughts—“I have no idea about what she is saying but, she makes my heart tremble“.

Streets of Philadephia – Bruce Springsteen

This famous song by the legendary Springsteen was the OST for the movie Philadelphia, that released in 1993, almost a decade after AIDS was diagnosed. What a brilliant gift to mankind Tom Hanks is. He plays a successful attorney stricken with AIDs. Antonio Banderas played Hanks’s lover in the film and you can see him talk about the importance/relevance of the movie even now, 27 years later in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

Isn’t it ironic that Tom Hanks was tested positive for Corona Virus (COVID-19)? May he be blessed with good health 🙂 

I walked the avenue, ’til my legs felt like stone,
I heard the voices of friends, vanished and gone,
At night I could hear the blood in my veins,
It was just as black and whispering as the rain,
On the streets of Philadelphia.

The 1919 Influenza Blues— Essie Jenkins

The Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 flu pandemic, was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. It almost lasted for two whole years and infected about 500 million people—about a quarter of the world’s population at the time. Ironically, the name of the pandemic is misleading; it did not originate in Spain, but got the name as it garnered a lot more press attraction from the land than it did in France from where it moved. At the time, Spain was not involved in the on-going war, and had not imposed any wartime censorship. The origin of the song The 1919 Influenza Blues is quite a blur, but it was released in the 1960’s much after the world suffered the pandemic. The style seems to be highly inspired by the music in the 1930’s. The lyrics however are heart-wrenching.

It was nineteen hundred and nineteen
Men and women were dying
With the stuff that the doctor called the flu
People were dying everywhere
Death was creepin’ all through the air
And the groans of the rich sure was sad

Little Boy Blue— Cyndie Lauper

Written in 1987, by Cyndie Lauper and a couple of other writers, was the only song by Lauper that did not make a breakthrough on the charts. Lauper said she wrote this song for a friend who died of AIDS.

The little toy dog is covered with dust,
But sturdy and staunch he stands;
And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
And his musket moulds in his hands;
Time was when the little toy dog was new,
And the soldier was passing fair;
And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue
Kissed them and put them there.

The Last Song – Elton John

Elton John reminds me of the ever loved The Lion King – Circle of Life. I have been a fan ever since. This song of his tells the story of a father coming to terms with the sexuality of his gay son amid the news of him dying from an AIDS-related illness. John was believed to have said in an interview, that he was crying all through the time he wrote the music and it was very hard for him to sing it (that’s hard to believe, but the things that move you cannot be explained).

This may be the last thing that I write for long
Can you hear me smiling when I sing this song
For you and only youAs I leave will you be someone to say good-bye
As I leave will you be someone to wipe your eye
My foot is out the door
And you can’t stop me now

The show must go on – QUEEN

Who doesn’t know this song and the iconic performance of QUEEN at LiveAid, 1985. The song was actually written by Brian May, the guitarist of the band. The song chronicles the effort made by Freddie Mercury in continuing to perform despite approaching the end of his life, although his diagnosis with HIV/AIDS had not yet been made public in spite of ongoing media speculation claiming that he was seriously ill.

Empty spaces, what are we living for?
Abandoned places, I guess we know the score, on and on
Does anybody know what we are looking for?
Another hero, another mindless crime
Behind the curtain, in the pantomime
Hold the line
Does anybody want to take it anymore?The show must go on
The show must go on, yeah
Inside my heart is breaking
My makeup may be flaking
But my smile, still, stays on

These are just some of the many tributes to loved ones that have appeared in popular culture.

With all the grim that surrounds us at the moment, let’s all hold on to hope.
Let’s be sensitive to the ones that we’re losing around us. Yes, we’re all home, but no, this is not our summer vacation given back to us. We have all this time to ourselves, but no, this is not a countdown to when things will get better. This is time for us to contribute to the greater good, while some fall prey to the undefinable danger. Yes, it is like one of those apocalyptic movies we’re living in; but let’s recognize the privilege we’re presented with and utilize it with utmost gratitude.

Hope you loved reading this.

Rad All Day.