Imagine if we could speak in music, I think that would be the day peace arrives on earth. For music is the one thing that unites all of us. Though we all have our different tastes in music, rarely do I meet people who are willing to fight over musical preferences. If a stranger from Texas tells a man from New York that he loves country music, I have a hard time imagining the response being vitriolic. Music is a gatherer of people, we don’t even have to understand a certain language in order to let the rhythm move us.
On days like this, where reality egresses towards the surreal and bad news seems omnipresent, it is best to take a pause from the madness of the world and just listen to music. After writing two articles about politics in DC, I had enough of staring into the navel of muck and chose to find serenity in the music I love most. When we decide to do our part to make a difference in this world, it is an imperative to find beauty in the midst of dung that keeps being fed to us. So I made conscience choice to seek harmony instead of discord.
Two songs into my music session, a song by Phil Collins came on in my ear buds that instantly transported me back to my youth. “Against All Odds” was a song I used to play over and over again when I was ten years old growing up in Woodbridge, Virginia. All the sudden, the indignation I was feeling after following the news a bit too close started to get replaced by an inner calm. Like the wind that sway tree tops, Phil Collins’s song was making my head move side to side. I used to love this song before I even knew what love was and the cost that comes with it; I used to sing it word for word even though I was not old enough to grasp its meaning.
The wisdom of time and the education of love’s kick makes me appreciate this song even more now than I could ever understood in the past. This is the blessing of music; it’s like melodies and tunes become time capsules that allow us the ability to remember moments that we would have otherwise forgotten without the coaxing of beats and the voices of our favorite musicians to nudge our minds. I started to reflect on Phil Collin’s career while lost in his music and it dawned on me that this man is a legend who should be mentioned with the greats. Phil is far from a one decade wonder—his music spans more than forty years.
Born in Chiswick, England to working class parents, Phil was drawn to music at an early age. A toy drum given to him as a Christmas present at the age of five became his gateway to the music industry. Influenced by Ringo Starr, the drummer from the Beatles, Phil Collins pursued drumming with a passion. In time, he became a drummer with the band Genesis. In 1975, Phil Collins went from the sticks to the microphone as he became the lead singer. From Genesis, he branched out on his own and started a solo career that would witness over 35 million albums sold, copious Grammy awards, Oscars and countless other honors that would take more than one article to mention.
For me though, Phil Collins represents the music of my youth and the melodies I keep turning back to in order to find peace in a world that seems to be going to the dogs. Here is what I know to be true, out of 100 people reading this article, maybe one might be moved by anger to respond with contempt. If this article was about some politician, 50 out of 100 would have been livid regardless of what I wrote. This is the very nature of politics for it’s purpose is to divide us. But music, there is no division to be found for music is the very essence of the love that is within us. No one ever says of music “is it white music” or describes Whitney Houston as a black musician. Music does not need an adjective in front of it—that is what makes music so damn magnificent!
I shall listen to music the rest of the day and stop paying attention to politics for a while. Perhaps one day we will let artists—singers, painters and writers alike—lead us to a new revolution. A revolution not of the gun but of the mind and heart for all other revolutions are bankrupt. To Phil Collins, I want to thank you for your gift and the way you blessed the world with it. I pray you get well soon after the fall you had, but a singer who rose against the odds is one that can’t be kept down. Fitting when I think of it really, “Against All Odds” has become my anthem—against the odds I rose from brokenness and found love where I once thought it impossible. When we listen to the music in our hearts, what seems improbable becomes possible after all. #AgainstAllOdds
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” ~ Aldous Huxley
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Check out the Ghion Cast below which was inspired by a cover of Phil Collin’s song in which he too covered Diana Ross and the Supreme’s song “Can’t Hurry Love”. Find out how music connects us for music is the essence of who we are as humans.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.