Timmy Thomas’ Music and Message

March 22, 2016. I sat in bed this morning, preparing for an interview, reading news on my phone about the bombing in Brussels. It was heartbreaking.

The only bright spot on my newsfeed was a video from NPR of the soul singer, Timmy Thomas from last week’s SXSW. He did a late night performance of a beautiful song called, “Dizzy Dizzy World.” That video isn’t embeddable, but I thought I’d dig up a video of the Thomas’ classic song that started my admiration for this living R&B legend who sings of unity and tolerance.  There’s music and a message. As a culture, we’re now all familiar with the music of “Why Can’t We Live Together” from Drake’s massive “Hotline Bling,” but the story behind the song was that Thomas wrote it in the early 70s when the anti-war movement in the US was at its height.  The lyrics are still resonant today.

“Tell me why? Tell me why? Tell me why?
Umm, why can’t we live together?
Tell me why? Tell me why?
Umm, why can’t we live together?
Everybody wants to live together
Why can’t we live together?

No more wars, no more wars, no more war
Umm, just a little peace in this world
No more wars, no more war
All we want is some peace in this world

Everybody wants to live together
Why can’t we live together?

Can’t live

Can’t live together

Can’t live together

No matter, no matter what color
Umm, you are still my brother
I said, “No matter, no matter what color
Umm, you are still my brother”

Everybody wants to live together
Why can’t we live together?”

I don’t remember the first time I heard it, but I know it was probably very late at night, in London, when I was younger and I used to sing in my head, “Tell me why, tell me why, why can’t we live together?” during especially awkward moments of my 20s. It was one of those songs that DJs played as the sun was rising, as we all slowly bobbed on the dancefloor at the end of a vibrant, but often hazy musical adventure. I’ve always had a hypnotic fondness towards this song, displaced in its vague memory of a time when all that mattered was staying on until we were told to go home. Most people never made it to that point in the night when the DJ slowed the tempo down and played soul, but most people were not us. We were a group unbound by race or ethnicity or gender, we were friends united by song and we wanted to hear the entire set of what an artist had to say.

In this day and age, there’s something still very powerful about that.

“It’s a dizzy, dizzy world, all that we live in.

Everybody’s status climbing, even their next of kin.

We complain about having no shoes, until we see the man who has no feet.

It’s a dizzy, dizzy world, that we live in.

My world, my world! Oh my world, my world.”

March 22, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

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