If I Had A Song
Ahh—February. Love is in the air. Well at least on Valentine’s Day. What about President’s Day? What’s in the air then? Lately, there’s been a lot in the air. Are you getting frustrated watching it? Or are you in the streets fighting it?
Like 749,999 other people, I marched in the LA Women’s March on Saturday, January 21. The LA Metro was the most popular method to get to Pershing Square. I was sardined inside a train car full of racial and generational diversity when two young women forced their way through the automatic doors. I took a breath thinking it could be my last. But their push opened up extra space allowing us all to ride in more comfort.
Then the two women started singing uplifting songs that expressed the mood of everyone on the train. I started singing along. Then the entire car started singing. And by the time we reached the march, we had all gotten what we came for—connection with others around a cause. And the music made it happen.
How do you take an experience that’s palpable, that’s happening right in front of you, and convert it into art? If Joan of Arc were a composer, how would she have orchestrated her times? Anne Frank kept a diary. Those of us who lived through the Vietnam War days picked up guitars and learned to play anthem songs, such as Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer,” Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” and Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Songs of protest, just like songs of love, can last a lifetime. I think of Carole King’s “Some Kind of Wonderful,” also a song of the 60s, but still hummable today.
During this turbulent month—of presidential history, grassroots protests and unrequited love—I challenge you to write something—maybe a poem or a song. Write from your heart and write in a way that people 50 years from now can understand what you’re feeling.
Oh yeah. Did I mention that two of the songs we sang on the train were “This Land is Your Land” and “If I Had a Hammer?” Even the two young women knew the words!