Ron Onesti: Can music bring us together this year
We need "We Are The World" now more than ever!
How do we stay positive during these tumultuous times? Each day, we are concerned about serious safety, health and economic issues. Preserving our history, our legacies and our traditions. The future of our youth, and the comfort of our seniors. So much to think about, to worry about, to be concerned about. The safety of my family, my home, my business and that of my friends, our dedicated employees and our loyal customers is of deep concern for me as it is for most people today. All that is clouding our brains and challenging our overall happiness. When will it end?
History tells us it will be soon. The definition of "soon" can be quite subjective, though. But in the grand scheme of things, we must believe that we will come out of this, hopefully stronger than we were before. But until then, we have a responsibility to protect ourselves. Of course, physical safety can be a topic of grand discussion. But what I am referring to in this case is working hard not to let all the negativity surrounding us today affect our inner soul. The one that gets inflated upon hearing the notes of a favorite song, or a pleasant melody.
I would never attempt to reduce the seriousness of today's social issues by saying music can resolve it all. We live in an incredibly volatile time, complex and sensitive. Each issue, political or otherwise, has almost countless points either for or against, and many are willing to risk their personal and financial lives defending their position.
But there MUST be some sort of balance. Festering in the sludge of negativity rather than engaging in positive discussion and debate can only lead to eminent individual internal disaster.
There is no debate when it comes to the power of music. In the wake of most disasters in the past few hundred years, it seams there was always a song or a musical movement that was a catalyst that brought people together. And when could that antidote be more needed than now?
What would the world be like if we listened to music half as much as we watched television? How about one-quarter of the time we are staring at the screen of a cellphone? One-eighth the time we are complaining about it all?
It has been argued that the problems of each generation were a symptom of a lack of communication. Mixed messaging, perceived disrespect and insensitive provocations. But music has always seemed to bridge the gap of miscommunication.
This past January marked the 35th anniversary of "We Are The World," the song to benefit Africa performed by 45 legendary pop music artists. It was organized by Harry Belafonte and Quincy Jones, who produced the single in just five weeks. It sold over 7 million copies raising over $60 million for African relief.
And the lyrics mean as much today as they did then:
There comes a time
When we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh, and it's time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day, just you and me.
I look back to the Bono's "Band Aid" message to "Feed The World." Also celebrating its 35th is the Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp initiative to save devastated farmers, "Farm Aid." Music made a difference then, and can NOW!
I often wonder what a song for today would sound like. Who would be the performers? What could be an all-encompassing message that would be powerful enough to join together the masses and lessen the racial, economic, ethnic and religious divide that exists today?
With all that "time" on our hands we have during this "lockdown," maybe we can put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, these days) and hundreds of us can contribute to this challenge. Or maybe it is some accomplished songwriter that hits on all pistons of the issues at hand.
We should probably ask a slew of 5-year-olds to come up with the song. It would be their innocence, oblivious to color, gender or any other element that differentiates individuals that could probably capture the essence of the world togetherness we are in such need of.
Or maybe it is YOU! What message would you convey in song lyrics that would make people join together in the brotherhood and sisterhood we as human need to survive? I know we all have differences. Some may be unresolvable. But what we all CAN share is the power of music and its ability to calm the spirit.
We cannot give up! Look at the faces of our innocent children whose future MUST be secured. And how about the faces of our seniors who worked so hard to give their families a better future and who fought for the freedoms we have in this great country.
It is simple to think all can be resolved with a song, but it surely CAN make a difference!
SO LET'S STOP FIGHTING AND LET'S START WRITING!
• Ron Onesti is president and CEO of The Onesti Entertainment Corp. and The Historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Celebrity questions and comments? Email email@example.com.