Lyrics for peace: part 1
Had you ever heard that music is the universal language? The answer depends on what we consider by music and language but at first, we would respond affirmatively. For instance, you do not need to speak Chinese to understand its music, but definitely, there are songs that became anthems for the masses, and this is due to the powerful lyrics.
Music is an art of sound, a tool to express ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color. But language is a method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of structured words. According to Facundo Manes, an Argentinian neurologist and neuroscientist, there are different researches which show that the sensation we feel when we listen to a piece of music is very similar to the sensation that the rest of the people in the same place are experiencing. That is why the melodies, in many cases, can work to our benefit at the individual level, modulating the state of mind and even human physiology. So, can you imagine the impact of mixing good music with a positive message?
We agree that music can be a useful tool to convey peace values through all musical genres. Following, we are going to remember -or find out- songs, which some of them became viral expressing messages of unity, humanity and the importance to live in peace. Thus, it is important to say that independent from the backgrounds and the reasons for the artists, we are going to pay attention to the meaning of the lyrics.
John Lennon – Imagine (1975)
Before starting this musical journey, let me tell you that ‘’Imagine’’ is still one of the most inspirational songs ever. John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote this song, which was released in 1975 in the United Kingdom. ‘’Imagine’’ was asking us to imagine a place where things that divide people did not exist. The song encourages the listener to imagine a better world living in peace, letting go of the problems, which have caused a lot of pain to humanity. Can you imagine a world without borders, without divisions of religion and nationality and without material possessions? It gives us a message of unity, a message based on looking for peace, all together, as a huge group of human beings who want to share the same world and respect each other. Sometimes, we can think that this song tackles utopian themes but lyrics are hopeful, and hope is something that every individual need.
‘’Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you.’’
‘’You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one’’.
Bob Marley – One love (1977)
If we tackled songs with peaceful messages, we could not miss Bob Marley, who became an international musical and cultural icon making anthems of his songs. An early version of this song was released in 1965 (by The Wailers) as a single in Jamaica but it was in 1977 when Bob Marley & the Wailers released the updated version, which became the definitive rendition. At first side, we can interpret a call for unity but it is not as simple. Some of the lyrics are about oppression and how sinners will pay for their evil deeds in the end. So, there is a part that brings us the idea of if we all come together and celebrate our humanity the peace will be possible but also, he gives us a deeper message which indicates that there is someone responsible for the cruelty, and then, we can reflect about if these people have to pay for what they did.
‘’One love, one heart
Let’s get together and feel all right
As it was in the beginning (one love)
So shall it be in the end (one heart)
Alright, give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right
Let’s get together and feel all right.’’
Mercedes Sosa and León Gieco – Solo le pido a Dios (1982)
‘’Solo le Pido a Dios’’, or in English, ‘’ I Only ask God’’, a song released in 1978 written by the Argentine singer-songwriter León Gieco. Many artists covered this song but the version with Mercedes Sosa that we played in 1982, was one of the most known. She was a singer who spent 3 years in exile during the military dictatorship and León Geico was inspired by this event meanwhile wrote the song. The military regime, the Mercedes Sosa exile and the threat of war between Chile and Argentina were some of the significant episodes that his country was going through. The lyric tries to communicate the need to rise up against the war. It approaches to raise awareness among people about the pain that causes to live in war. It launches a message to think about what is going on in a lot of countries and how can we allow to this happen.
‘’I only ask God
That pain does not leave me indifferent,
And that parched death will not find me
Alone and empty not having done enough.’’
‘’I only ask God
That I am not indifferent to war,
It’s a big monster that crushes
All the poor innocence of people.’’
Joey Ramone – What a wonderful world (2002)
In 1967, Louis Armstrong recorded the classic ‘’What a wonderful world’’ being after, versioned by lots of artists. As it is always good to find an excuse to put a little of punk rock, here is Joey Ramone with the energetic cover that he released in 2002. Maybe here we have the example of when lyrics fit exactly with the melody and chosen instruments. This song changes the dynamic that we had following until now because the song focuses on appreciating the little things of the world we are living in. So, if we stop to look at what we have around us and we look for the small details, we could see how the world is full of wonders. Moreover, this song has a positive message that tries to lead people to experience a pleasant feeling when they are listening to it.
‘’Oh! Colors of the rainbow are so pretty in the skies
Are also on the faces of people walking by
I see friends shaking hands, saying
How do you do?
They’re really saying
I love you’’
Black Eyed Peas – Where is the love (2003)
‘’Where is the love’’ was a hit released in 2003 ending up with two nominations at the 46th Grammy Awards. The lyrics address problems such as violent extremism, violence, racism, hate, and anger. The song shows a picture of a world led by hypocrisy, disrespect and the power of media bringing us a list of values, which should be sought as fairness, equality, understanding, and unity. But beyond these, the greatest value that can overcome these current obstacles is love. The band upholds love as guidance speech and the hope for straightening our society. The idea of repeating the question ‘’Where is the love?’’ reflects a sense that the world ought to be one way and if all we were as it should be, love and peace would permeate the world.
‘’But if you only got love for your own race,
then you’re gonna leave space for others to discriminate,
and discriminate only generates hate
and when you hate then you’re bound to get irate.’’
‘’Love is the key,
Love is the answer,
Love is the solution,
They don’t want us to love,
Love is powerful’’.