Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)

Amazing how programmed we are to expect or seek out music to go with every major (and minor) event in our lives—and how bad it so often is.

MSNBC is particularly bad during the day, mostly in trying to be hip. I’ve actually heard Elvis Costello and the Sex Pistols coming out of Morning Joe commercial breaks—my fault for falling asleep watching the channel the night before.

Yesterday, predictably, they had “Bridge Over Troubled Water” during one of the afternoon shows—like we needed to hear that song or another one like it to make us feel better.

Like any song could make us feel better.

Then the Yankees one-upped it last night by playing “Sweet Caroline” to show solidarity with Boston.

image001At least there aren’t any vengeful “God Bless America” rallies at the Capitol Building, like after 9-11, or Clear Channel-like lists of 150 songs you can’t play on the radio.

Still, I had a few Facebook friends who did seek a good Boston song to provide solace. The Standells’ “Dirty Water,” which is about Boston, was an obvious choice, until it was pointed out that The Standells are in fact from Los Angeles. Another suggestion was Boston’s own favorite son Jonathan Richman’s immortal suburban Boston drive-thru “Roadrunner.”

Yet this sort of exercise misses the point, same with 9-11: Neither event was local, but of grave national, yea, international significance. And where Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” would certainly have been appropriate then and now, Ashford & Simpson’s “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” always conveys what should always be our goal in times good and bad, individually and as a people.

“Reach out and touch somebody’s hand. Make this world a better place if you can.”

Jim Bessman



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