Abraham, Martin and John
Even though there has been some good music written in the last few decades (and I’ve got a lot of it downloaded on my ipod), I still most often listen to tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. It may be that I’m a bit nostalgic and listening to this older music takes me back to a simpler, freer time. But I also have to admit that songs written back in those days actually had something to say. They weren’t necessarily just a catchy tune. These singer/songwriters were storytellers. The words meant something.
One of my favorite tunes, “Abraham, Martin and John,” was written in 1968 and first recorded by Dion, reaching #4 on the U.S. Pop Singles Charts. This song was re-recorded by Andy Williams, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, and Marvin Gaye and was subsequently performed by Ray Charles, Kenny Rogers, Bon Jovi, Emmylou Harris, Tori Amos, Whitney Houston, and Bob Dylan.
“Abraham, Martin and John” is a tribute to the memory of four assassinated Americans - all icons of social change - namely Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. Each of the first three verses features one of the men named in the song's title. For example:
“Has anybody here seen my old friend Martin? Can you tell me where he's gone? He freed a lot of people, but it seems the good they die young. But I just looked around and he's gone.”
The fourth and final verse mentions Robert "Bobby" Kennedy and ends with a description of him walking over a hill with the other three men.
After recording the song, Dion came to realize that this socially conscious piece was a reflection of the state of the world. “I realized that what these four guys—Lincoln, King, and the Kennedys—had in common was a dream.” Dion stated. “It was like they had the courage to believe that a state of love really can exist. ‘Abraham, Martin and John’ was a way of reminding people that they could aspire to great things, even in the midst of tragedy and confusion.”
Hearing this song makes me wonder what dreams and aspirations I might have once had and why I’m not doing anything about that. Is it just too easy to go to work every day and not get involved? Am I simply getting too comfortable with my life as I know it? There is another line in this same song that says “Someday is going to be one day soon.” Wow, if that doesn’t create a sense of urgency, what will? If not now, when?