Cause Song of the Month:
Long before “My Humps” and “I Gotta Feeling,” The Black Eyed Peas were a burgeoning alternative hip hop group but when Fergie joined will.i.am, Taboo and apl.de.ap during the making of 2003’s Elephunk, it gave them a more mainstream sound. Their pop breakthrough was the lead single “Where Is The Love?” which topped charts in 13 countries. The timing for such a song was perfect. Written just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — with assistance from an uncredited Justin Timberlake — the lyrics address global and domestic issues, including war, terrorism, racism and gang violence. Today, sadly, the song is still relevant. Buy it here. — K.B.
In this remarkable written gay rights song, the Seattle hip hop duo hits every point. “Same Love” begins with the perspective of a boy mistakenly thinking he was gay because he had “a bunch of stereotypes all in my head;” talks about the right wing Conservatives thinking being gay “can be cured with some treatment and religion;” addresses homophobia in hip hop; and advocates the rights of same-sex couples to marry. “No freedom till we’re equal / Damn right I support it.” “Same Love,” which was nominated for 2014 Song of the Year, at the 2014 Grammy Awards, is from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ first studio album together, 2012’s The Heist. Read the lyrics here and buy the song here. — K.B.
This song is ubiquitous this time of year but never gets old. “Just give peace a chance” was the response John Lennon gave a member of the press when asked what he and Yoko Ono hoped to achieve with their “bed-ins for peace" in Amsterdam and Montreal for their honeymoon. “Give Peace A Chance” was recorded on four-track in Room 1742 at Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel on June 1, 1969 at the time of the Vietnam War. It features Lennon and Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers on acoustic guitar and Ono on handclaps, tambourine and backing vocals. In the room were journalists and such celebs as Timothy Leary, Petula Clark and Allen Ginsberg. Buy it here. — K.B.
Chinese-born Vancouver-based pop singer Wanting (Qu) says she has been a victim of cyber-bullying since her success. On her new album, Say The Words, the 30-year-old confronts the issue with the seemingly lighthearted single “S.T.H.U,” which stands for “Shut The Hell Up.” Produced and cowritten by Ron Aniello (Bruce Springsteen, Barenaked Ladies), Wanting says, “My feelings get hurt, but then I get angry sometimes, so eventually I wrote a song based on that experience. A lot of kids, who are getting cyber-bullied, can relate to the song and can be tough and tell them, ‘Stop saying bad things about others. I don’t want to hear it.’ Or ‘Stop bringing me down.’’” — K.B.
Sometimes a song takes on new significance years later. 54.40’s 1987 classic “One Gun,” from the album Show Me, has been adopted as the anthem of Rock The Violence, with the Vancouver rock band’s blessing. Over the summer, founder Craig Knight put the word out to Canadian radio stations to partner with them and play the song — just as they normally would — to raise awareness and create dialogue about gun violence in our communities and as the organization's mission states how to “raise awareness and generate dialogue that can put an emphasis on positive development, opportunities for youth, safe and supportive communities and poverty reduction.” — K.B.
Before Detroit’s unprecedented $18.5 billion municipal bankruptcy filing July 18, Grammy-winning songwriter Allee Willis — whose work includes Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” and “Boogie Wonderland,” and Pointer Sister’s “Neutron Dance” — co-wrote a soulful love song for her city with Andrae Alexander. They are encouraging all of Motor City to learn the lyrics for a great big singalong in September. The pair hopes to make “The D” Detroit’s unofficial theme song and will be making a music video and documentary of the event, featuring “thousands of Detroiters singing, playing, dancing, clapping, whistling, breathing fire, juggling hubcaps, and showing their spirit any way they can all over the city.” Sign up and learn the lyrics on the web site. — K.B.
The poignant ballad by Montreal pop-rock act Simple Plan was released as a single from its second album, Still Not Getting Any… and adopted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “This song is a very personal look at what happens when tragedy hits close to home…” the band, which has known people involved in accidents caused by drunk driving, said in a collective statement. “One of the students at our high school crashed his car driving back from a weekend trip and killed his best friend. It was a very sad time that none of us will ever forget.” Simple Plan also made an eye-opening music video for the song depicting an inebriated young male driver who crashes into a young female driver, killing her and leading to his arrest, and shattered families. — K.B.
Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks has visited many injured military personnel over the years at Walter Reed Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital. She wrote a poem after her second visit to Walter Reed and gave it out to the soldiers and their families. “I always told them one day it would be a song,” Nicks said. In 2009, an accident in Iraq that killed seven English soldiers “caused a four-page journal entry, where I pulled the chorus,” she explained. Nicks then asked Fleetwood Mac co-founder Lindsay Buckingham to play guitar and sing backup on the heartfelt song she titled “Soldier’s Angel” for her 2011 solo album, In Your Dreams. “I am a soldier in their army/They are the soldiers of my heart/I try to make them smile again/Thought it tears me apart/Their bravery leaves me spellbound/I try to be a small part /Of bringing them back again,” she sings. Buy it here.
Grammy-winning Dave Alvin, a solo artist and former member of The Blasters and The Knitters, wrote "The Man In The Bed" about the strength of his father, who suffered from Parkinson's Disease. “Now the nurse over there doesn't know that I ain't some helpless old so-and-so,” he sings. “I could have broken her heart not that long ago.” The heartfelt tribute can be found on his 2004 album, Ashgrove, and
Parkinsong, Volume One: 38 Songs of Hope, which benefitted Parkinson’s research. “We had a moment on the day he died where he was begging me to take him out of the nursing home, and I couldn't do it, you know? And so that's really kind of where the song came from,” Alvin told U.S. public radio network NPR. Buy it here. — K.B.
Ten Years After singer-guitarist Alvin Lee wrote this classic about the state of the world. Feed the poor, world pollution, stop the war are all lines from the top 40 Billboard hit found on the 1971 album Space In Time. In a 2008 interview with French magazine Rock And Folk, the British blues-rock musician said he knew the song was now a peace anthem and he was very much into that movement at the time, especially against the Vietnam War. “…Hence the words ‘I’d Love to Change The World but I don’t know what to do, so I’ll leave it up to you’ — and the best of luck,” Lee said. Lee passed away March 6, 2013 at the age of 68, leaving one helluva song. It is on sale at iTunes for 69 cents. — K.B.
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