The 1965 hit quietly addressed the Vietnam war while its 1971 remix spoke to assassination and civil rights
What The World Needs Now –Eight artists offer their interpretations
  • INTRO: What The World Needs Now: Addressing the Vietnam War, Assassination and Civil Rights
  • PLAYLIST: 8 versions on YouTube and Spotify

Black History Month and Valentine’s Day

During February’s Black History Month Kurated spotlights Black artists new and old, living or passed. Today’s featured song was popularized by singers like Dionne Warwick, Mahalia Jackson, Jackie DeShannon and, more recently, Andra Day. The love in this beautiful and poignant song isn’t the kind we typically celebrate on February 14. But it could be.

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“The main thing is this – when you get up in the morning you must take your heart in your two hands. You must do this every morning.”
~ Grace Paley


The 1965 hit quietly addressed the Vietnam war; its 1971 remix spoke to assassinations and civil rights

“What the world needs now is love sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” True words in these tentative times. The 1965 song they come from, What The World Needs Now, was a surprise hit for its prolific authors, composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David. Written and recorded during the Vietnam war, the duo – not known for addressing topical issues – worried the song was too controversial because of differing views in the US about the war. The lyrics aren’t overtly political. But, it was a different time – one of war, segregation and civil rights strife: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No, not just for some, but for everyone.”

The Abraham, Martin and John remix

Jackie DeShannon was the first to make the song a hit soon followed by Dionne Warwick. A remixed version rose to Number 8 on the Billboard 100 in 1971 which mashed up the original with 1968 summer favourite, Abraham, Martin and John. The song was about assassinated US leaders Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and John F Kennedy.

The verses reference each of them and a final verse includes Robert Kennedy who was killed shortly before the song was popularized by singer Dion.

“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
I just looked around and he’s gone”

The remix was produced by Los Angeles DJ Tom Clay and features speech soundbites from its subjects, snippets of coverage of their assassinations, sound effects from the war and an innocent exchange between a man and a young girl who’s asked to define bigotry, segregation, hatred and prejudice. The YouTube version of the song features relevant clips underlining the context.

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Playlist: 8 Tracks

Eight artists are featured on the playlist which includes DJ Tom Clay’s remix plus instrumental and vocal renditions:

  1. Cat Power
  2. Uwe Hagar
  3. Andra Day
  4. Bill Frisell
  5. Acoustic Guitar Collective
  6. Dionne Warwick
  7. Tom Clay (Abraham, Martin and John mix)
  8. Mahalia Jackson
Kurated is a music sharing project.
Stay tuned and enjoy,
Kris Sig Plastic V3

14 February 2022