Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We Are The World: Nostalgic Sentiment and Motherly Pride

I grew up in the eighties. Unlike some, I really loved that decade, especially the music.  I still love it.  One song in particular takes me waaaayyy back, and makes me happy...moves me even.

"We Are The World" was a compilation of all the great singers/songwriters of the time.  It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones.  The idea was to bring together a huge number of incredibly talented and famous artists, and create a record that would sell across all demographics to raise money for humanitarian aid in Africa.  It worked.  That single raised over 63 million dollars in 1984.

There was a video of the song, taped during the recording session, that played on MTV over and over (back when MTV played strictly videos and was hosted by V-jays), now you can see it here on YouTube.  Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Hall and Oates, Duran Duran, Bono, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen,Paul Simon,Kenny Rogers,Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Willie Nelson...and on and on and on...

The trend to help Africa continued in the summer of 1985 with Live Aid...a completely different scene, a global effort to have live performances coincide all over the world to help end hunger in Ethiopia.  That was the first time I cried watching Bono and U2 onstage (wouldn't be the last)...to this day my favorite band of all time.

There was just something about growing up with all of that music on a mission. Not only were we in love with our rock stars, but they made us care about more than big hair and leg warmers.  They opened up our eyes to the rest of the world.

So imagine 25 years later, in a darkened auditorium, 100 student performers close their summer show with a rendition of "We Are The World".  Leading a kids cast of 2nd-5th graders, my son sauntered slowly down the aisle toward the stage.  At the top of the steps, he entered into the pool of stage light just as the chorus began to boom, "We are the world, we are the children".  My son's voice bellowed out the song, joining in with the older cast...heartfelt for him too, just in a different way.

I didn't expect to be emotional.  I knew the song was coming, had heard bits of it during rehearsal.  This was the first time, though, I had ever heard Sam sing it, seen him sing it, especially while wearing his USA for Africa tee shirt. I get misty just thinking about it.

The mixture of nostalgic sentiment and motherly pride is powerful stuff.  I am so happy my son had the opportunity to learn about the song, learn what it meant to so many. More than that, it was so nice to have this very special moment with him, a musical and emotional connection from my past to his present.

(Cheap Plug:  Sam is a member of Saline Varsity Blues.  Go to www.salinevarsityblues.com for more info.

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