During the civil rights march on Washington in 1963, when Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, Peter, Paul and Mary sang to thousands who had gathered there with the Washington Monument towering behind them. I thought of that moment today for a number of reasons. One, because this is Martin Luther King Day, and we always remind you to listen to and remember that landmark speech and the justice and equality that Dr. King stood for. Two, because other not so pleasant memories of crowds gathered in Washington are fresh in our minds, manifesting painful images of violence that Dr. King denounced. But three, because I was reading an article in the Los Angeles Times yesterday about a strange and unorthodox relationship between Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and John Densmore, former drummer for the Doors. (Hang with me here — this will all connect in just a minute.)
This unlikely relationship of mutual respect culminated in an anniversary concert in 2018 called “California Soul” in which the orchestra performed orchestrated versions of popular songs by L.A. artists such as Frank Zappa, the Beach Boys and the Doors. John Densmore drummed in that concert with what he called “85 of the world’s greatest musicians.” Towards the end of the article, Dudamel expressed his hope that live performances would soon be resumed. “Music is reflection,” he said, “and we’re living in times which call for deep reflection.”
Indeed. Upon reading this, my thoughts turned back to Washington, and I suddenly wondered what might have happened had there been live music on that stage prior to the storming of the capitol building on January 6. Might there have been a call for deeper reflection and perhaps even a different outcome? Who knows. But I would have liked to have seen a remake of Peter, Paul and Mary singing “If I Had a Hammer.”
Think about that. “It’s the hammer of justice, it’s the bell of freedom, it’s the song about love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land.” A little love could have changed a lot. Not to mention the hammer of justice and the bell of freedom.
“Music is reflection,” Dudamel said, “and we’re living in times which call for deep reflection.” Yes we are. How about you? What group or singer, and what song would you have wanted to hear on that stage last Wednesday? What kind of deeper reflection would you like to have brought to that event?
I’m serious about this. What song would you have chosen? I think we all could use some deeper reflection about what we need right now, spiritually, emotionally, and practically, and music can provide that. Reply to this email with your song choice, or respond publicly through our comments section by clicking below. This is your chance to be a concert promoter and give us all something to think about.
Happy Martin Luther King Day.