Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from your suggestions after last week’s callout. Thanks for taking part. Read more about how our weekly Readers Recommend series works at the end of the piece.
As a community of folk with diverse musical tastes, who come from far and wide and are all ages, we gather here week by week encouraging each other and sharing songs we love. This week has been no different. The unifying power of music never ceases to amaze me and I hope this week’s varied playlist on that theme has something upbeat to offer everyone.
We start out with a spirited rocky number from these nice Canadian fellas Monster Truck and Power of the People. They sing of a change coming our way and have advice: “Help your brother, heal your friend, save us all from destruction.” If we follow this they are sure we’ll find a brighter day. Easy really.
The next few songs are politically charged. On Walls Come Tumbling Down, the Style Council are more specific about why they think we should unify. They sing (to workers in grey, communist Warsaw in the video) about being taught to trust authority, but those in power let us down in the end and the only way of breaking this cycle is to come together as a unifying force to crack the system. Billy Bragg brings his recognisable rally-cry voice to There is Power in a Union, an old Joe Hill song that talks of industrial workers needing to unite if they are to effect change against the bosses and their cruel systems. These sentiments are echoed by John Tams in his song, Unity (Raise Your Banners High), which instructs us to unite against all strife, to be proud of our cause and that, though it may be painful, victory will one day come.
Now, at the risk of being derided for choosing a song some of you consider a joke, I want to explain something. I thought Paul McCartney’s We All Stand Together (with the Frog Chorus) was a bit silly too, but the more I listened to it, the more I realised its importance to me. It brought back memories of a very happy holiday as a teen, of my dad imitating the frog chorus and of us all laughing a lot, a family unified in joint experience. The sentiments of the lyrics are perfect for this theme and guru has final say, so tough luck – enjoy it for what it is, a very sweet song!
As much as I would have loved to list nearly every reggae track that was suggested this week, I couldn’t really leave Bob Marley off this playlist considering it would have been his birthday this week (he was born on on 6 February 1945) and quite honestly, One Love covers it all.
Black Uhuru’s idea of unity is not about grand ideas of the world coming together. Their song Solidarity covers things we can all appreciate on a personal level, because ultimately we all want the same thing – we want to work, keep our families safe, and to be someone’s friend.
I don’t understand any of the lyrics in the next song, yet the extra information untergunther provided in justifying the nomination for Somos Sur by Ana Tijoux and the energy in the Chilean musician’s track (listed as also featuring Shadia Mansour) convinced me to pick it. I love it.
Lee Dorsey is hopeful in this 1970 song, the title of which, Yes, We Can, is reminiscent – or should that be prescient? – of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan. He’s confident humankind can make it work if we try – and the lyrics provide easy guidance.
I love Mavis Staples’ voice and in the Staple Singers’ If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me) the gospel/soul sound and repetition of the unifying call to “come go with me” makes you want to follow her.
What better way to unify lovers of music than on the dance floor? Disco has the rhythm to get the most reluctant dancers to their feet. Unity, by the O’Jays, turned up at full volume, has that capacity – believe me, it happened to me this week. The lyrics are just spot-on too.
From disco to funk, and George Clinton’s mantra that we have a chance to dance our way out of our constrictions and become Funkadelic’s One Nation Under A Groove – after all, if the world goes to pot, we still have music.
As soon as this final track was nominated, I knew it would be my closing tune. Jesse Jackson’s Wattstax concert speech running behind Primal Scream’s Come Together says everything I wanted to get out of this theme. “We are together, we are unified and all in accord ... Because when we are together we got power … and we can make decisions … today on this program you will hear gospel ... and rhythm and blues, and jazz. All those are just labels. We know that music is music.” Peace out.
New theme: how to join in
The new theme will be announced at 8pm (GMT) on Thursday 9 February. You have until 11pm on Monday 13 February to submit nominations.
Here’s a reminder of some of the guidelines for RR:
- If you have a good theme idea, or if you’d like to volunteer to compile a playlist from readers’ suggestions and write a blog about it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- There is a wealth of data on RR, including the songs that are “zedded”, at the Marconium. It also tells you the meaning of “zedded”, “donds” and other strange words used by RR regulars.
- Many RR regulars also congregate at the ’Spill blog.