Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?
Three songs! I’m so bad at remembering song names. The first song that popped into my head when I read today’s prompt was “The Wheels on the Bus go round and round,….all over town…),” which is just about too lame for print.
Well, the wheels on this bus are stalled on “most important,” but since I’ve got to keep moving, I’m going to ignore the “most important” direction and go with songs that have stood the test of time. Basically, they’re songs I’ve really liked since I heard them and I haven’t gotten sick of them.
- Lift Every Voice and Sing written by James Weldon Johnson
- The Greatest Love of All sung by Whitney Houston
- Three Little Birds by Bob Marley
Lift Every Voice and Sing
It’s a classic, timeless song with historical significance. The song is a poem written by poet James Weldon Johnson who is one of the celebrated Harlem Renaissance poets. He wrote the poem to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday at the school where he was principal. Booker T. Washington was the school’s honored guest. His brother, John Rosamond Johnson put the words to music shortly after and thus the “Black National Anthem” was born. What I love about this story is that it captures the indomitable spirit of African Americans—the unbreakable hope in the face of adversity that allowed survival of the Middle Passage, slavery, racism and socio-economic genocide. This is the song I would carry when you’re in the pit of hell with no foreseeable way out but to wait it out. This song has been sung in many different ways. Here are a few You Tube links to the different ways it’s been sung:in chorus Howard University Gospel Choir, solo Bebe Winans, upbeat Ray Charles, or instrumental Count Basie.
“Stony the road we trod,
bitter the chast’ning rod,
felt in the day that hope unborn had died;
yet with a steady beat,
have not our weary feet,
come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
we have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
we have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
where the white gleam of our star is cast.”
The Greatest Love of All
Last June, my daughter graduated from preschool (yes, it seems there’s a graduation for every occasion) and the class song was…drum roll please…Frozen. As much as I roll my eyes, I have to admit that for our eighth grade graduation our class voted on Whitney Houston’s The Greatest Love of All, which was at the time played ad nauseam on the radio. It was a great song. Much later I found out that one of the co-writers, Linda Creed, was battling cancer when she wrote the song. I can’t speak to her intention, but it sounds like it was an anthem for herself. It’s a powerful song. If you’d like to listen to the full song, here’s a You Tube link to The Greatest Love of All performed by Whitney Houston at the Grammys.
“I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all”
Three Little Birds
It doesn’t take a genius to see a recurring theme: I’m a sucker for songs with a ray of sunshine over a shadow of gloom. The words are nice, but of the three songs, it’s the sound of this song, the reggae that feels like home to me. Here’s the You Tube link. If you like Pharrell’s Happy, you’ll like this song.
“Don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright”
Singin’, “Don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright”
Rise up this mornin’, smile with the risin’ sun
Three little birds perched by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs of melodies pure and true
Sayin’, “This is my message to you”
Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice.
Okay, I’m signing off for now about my favorite songs. My writing practice is to write everyday. There are no time limits, no fancy prompts. Keeping it simple is best for now. In the future I may go in for fancy prompts or creative practices like putting my favorite words in a jar and using one each day as a jumping off point. The kind of exercise is a bit beyond my ability or stamina. So I’m sticking to writing everyday as much or as little as I want.