This week’s mission moment starts with one of those sentences you didn’t really ever think you’d write. I heard an interview with black rapper Ice T on NPR yesterday.
The interview was about a new documentary he has done on the history of the art of rap music. What caught me was a point he made at the end of the discussion. “All music…has fallen into a diluted…state. …People are losing their homes. We’ve got the Wall Street situation, the sub-prime situation. We’ve got a black president; we’ve got wars; we’ve got unemployment, but the music doesn’t reflect that. I challenge anyone to find music on the radio that reflects that.”
A little later in the hour, they happened to have an installment of a series they are doing on various writers’ view of the song that best reflects the American Dream. A black writer names Miles Marshall Lewis who picked Prince’s “Sign of the Times.” At one point, he pointed out that Rolling Stone named it one of the 500 best songs. The top song on that list was “Rolling Stone,” by Bob Dylan.
All this got me to thinking. Ice T is right. One thing humans always have done is tell ourselves stories about ourselves. We’ve done it around the fire, in books and poems, and in music. Granted, I mostly listen to news radio like NPR and WBUR, so maybe I’m missing something. But in general, it’s been a long time since I heard a song that told me a story about myself, or that I thought was a story we can tell ourselves about ourselves.
If I had to pick my song about the American Dream, or about rising as we like to think of it here at Boston Rising, with only a few hours to think about it, I think I’d go with two – both because they were stories we told ourselves about things happening around us that ran counter to rising. They would be Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” and Simon and Garfunkle’s “The Sound of Silence.” Both are decades old.
And that got me to thinking, what are other peoples’ songs? And what a great conversation to foment in peoples’ own social networks.
So here’s my invitation to you. What song or songs have best told you a story about ourselves that you think is important? Share that with someone you love over the next week and ask them the same question. If the conversation captures your imagination, you might discuss whether those songs are still relevant today. If not, what would such a song tell us now?
If we’re all going to rise, we’ll have to continuously tell ourselves stories of our rising. You’ll hear more from us about that in the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, it might be fun to think about what music has told you a story about our rising in the past.
Up we go!
Tiziana C. Dearing
Chief Executive Officer