Jesse’s Buzz Along Blog: A Playlist

Just a warning – this is more of a current events post, which is very rare for me. It’s going to be a bit political. There are no games mentioned in this blog post. If that’s all you’re here for, you don’t need to read this one. I’d be happy if you did, but I’ll be back to my regular ramblings next week.

It feels like the world is falling apart. Hatred in this country is so intense right now that it feels like we’ll never be able to repair the damage. And I’ll admit, when it comes to expressing my views, I’m extremely ineloquent. I’m so ineloquent, I didn’t even know that was a word until I got autocorrected trying to type in “uneloquent.” I want to express solidarity with the protestors, and I find it hard to put that into words. This is at least the sixth time I’ve rewritten just this paragraph.

Music, for me, often expresses what I cannot figure out how to do myself. In the real world, I’m a music therapist, so I tend to focus on self-expression in lyrics. I put together a little bit of a playlist. These are songs that have been speaking to me lately, and I want to share them. Hope you get something out of it.

By the way, my original intent was to load this post with music videos so you wouldn’t have to click out of the site, but too many of them that I wanted to use won’t let me embed. Sorry about that.

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1. WHAT’S GOING ON? – Marvin Gaye, 1971

I mean, Marvin pretty much nailed it with this song. There’s not a whole lot else to say.

Mother, mother, there’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother, there’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way to bring some lovin’ here today
Father, father, we don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer for only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way to bring some lovin’ here today
Picket lines and picket signs, don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what’s going on, what’s going on, what’s going on, what’s going on
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2. LAND OF CONFUSION – Genesis, 1986

I remember being extremely creeped out by the video for this song when I was a kid, but as I’ve aged, I’ve grown to appreciate the lyrics a lot more. I’m not a big fan of Phil Collins the solo artist (being more of a Peter Gabriel fan – see below), but this song is pretty perfect in its subject matter. And despite the problems it alludes to, there’s still a note of hope.

There’s too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And there’s not much love to go around
Can’t you see this is the land of confusion?
This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in
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3. DON’T GIVE UP – Peter Gabriel, So, 1986

Peter Gabriel is one of my favorite artists out there. This song has been a very meaningful one for me over the years in a number of situations. The video I linked to is from Gabriel’s Secret World Live tour from 1993, with Paula Cole singing instead of Kate Bush (who sang on the original album). The primary reason for this is that the original video is just Gabriel and Bush hugging.
In this proud land we grew up strong, we were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win I never thought I could fail
No fight left or so it seems, I am a man whose dreams have all deserted
I’ve changed my name, I’ve changed my face, but no one wants you when you lose
Don’t give up, cause you have friends
Don’t give up, you’re not beaten yet
Don’t give up, I know you can make it good
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4. HIGHER GROUND – Stevie Wonder, 1973

Gotta love some Stevie Wonder, who really is one of the great American songwriters. This is a song originally inspired by the concept of reincarnation, but it seems pretty relevant to the current world situation. And yes, I prefer Stevie’s version to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Powers keep on lyin’
While your people keep on dyin’
World keep on turnin’
Cause it won’t be too long
I’m so darn glad he let me try it again
Cause my last time on earth I lived a whole world of sin
I’m so glad that I know more than I knew then
Gonna keep on tryin’ till I reach my highest ground
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5. THE TIMES, THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’ – Tracy Chapman, 1992

Originally by Bob Dylan in 1964 as an anthem, this song captured the feeling of the civil rights movement, as well as much of the other unrest going on in the 60s. It seems only fitting to include it here, especially with Tracy Chapman’s cover from the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Celebration album.
Come gather ’round, people, wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
And you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
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6. FORTUNATE SON – Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1969

This is a song about draft dodging, and specifically in reference to Dwight Eisenhower’s son David. But when listened to in the context of white privilege, it takes on a new meaning.

Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they’re red, white and blue
And when the band plays “Hail to the Chief”
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord
It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate one, no

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7. YOUR RACIST FRIEND – They Might Be Giants, 1990

If you don’t know TMBG’s extensive catalog, they are a great group that does some truly alternative music. This is one of their most socially conscious songs. I love the way they don’t beat around the bush in this one. It’s very direct.

Out from the kitchen to the bedroom to the hallway
Your friend apologizes, he could see it my way
He let the contents of the bottle do the thinking
Can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding
This is where the party ends
I can’t stand here listening to you and your racist friend
I know politics bore you
But I feel like a hypocrite talking to you and your racist friend
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8. GET UP, STAND UP – Bob Marley and The Wailers, 1973

Originally written after viewing poverty in Haiti, this song expresses a lot of rage and the desire to do something. There are a number of Marley songs that would work for a list like this, but I think this is the most direct. Side trivia note – this was the last song Marley performed in concert before his death from cancer in 1981.

We sick an’ tired of-a your ism-schism game, dyin’ ‘n’ goin’ to heaven in-a Jesus’ name
We know when we understand Almighty God is a living man
You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time
So now we see the light, we gonna stand up for our rights!
Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight!

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9. BIKO – Peter Gabriel, 1980

Did I mention how much I love Peter Gabriel? This song is about real life anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko who was beaten to death by police in South Africa in 1977. Clips in the video are from the Richard Attenborough film Cry Freedom, though this song does not appear in that movie.

When I try to sleep at night, I can only dream in red
The outside world is black and white with only one colour dead
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja, the man is dead, the man is dead

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10. GIMME SHELTER – The Rolling Stones, 1969

I had never given this song much thought before, but I’ve recently been trying to dive deeper into the Stones catalog. This is a powerhouse of a song, and seems very appropriate right now.

Oh, a storm is threatening my very life today
If I don’t get some shelter, oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away
War, children, it’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away

Before moving on to number 11, a warning – if you have not seen the upcoming video, be aware that it is a tough one to watch.

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11. THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino, 2018

This is a video that captures a lot of things about modern America. The desensitization to violence, the distractions we can have while so many things are happening in the background, the material things that we can focus on. It’s a poignant piece of art. Especially creepy to me is the image of kids sitting around with masks on their faces, taking cell phone videos of the carnage around them.

This is America
Don’t catch you slippin’ now
Look at how I’m livin’ now
Police be trippin’ now
Yeah, this is America
Guns in my area
I got the strap
I gotta carry ’em

I hope this has been meaningful to someone else. These songs are helping me to deal with what’s happening in the world today, and I wanted to share them, even if it meant taking a break from talking about games. If you have any more suggestions for songs to listen to, please share them with me. I believe that music can bring people together better than just about anything else.

Thanks for reading – be good to each other.

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