1988, I was only but 10 years old but I somehow knew that something was special about this song. At the time, due to the image that one of the writers seemed to project, I was under the impression that it was a love song. Without listening to the lyrics properly, I thought it was an ode to a special woman. It was a love song alright, a love song to humankind though. It was only when I got to senior high school that I realised that the song makes a social commentary and spiritual statement. And the driving force behind the it is 'love'.
I know what captivated me all those years ago, it was the rhythm, the melody, the harmony and that harmonica. After high school, which was 14 years ago, this song came back to me one night, this year, while driving back home. A local radio station was playing it and I couldn't help the nostalgia that overwhelmed me. For a second it made me long for my childhood and the long lost emotions I felt whenever I'd hear it.
Ten things I love about this song and why it's apt for Christmas:
1. It personifies love, the power of love, peacable love, love that is colour blind and transcends and stands the test of time.
2. Spiritually, good will always triumph over evil.
3. Socially, it addresses issues such as the needy child, disenfranchised people, equality, human upliftment and the cessation of wars.
4. Speaks about the power that is in human unity.
5. The song is harmonically and rhythmically mellifluous.
6. The backing vocals in the chorus as well as the lone backing vocal doing a descant after the harmonica solo are just exceptional.
7. A distinct horn that plays only in the chorus.
8. The instrumental outro.
9. That harmonica.
10. It was released in the same year that Ben Johnson won gold at the Seoul Olympics, Benazir Bhutto became the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan AND the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
PG: Man to man, generation to generation.