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George Floyd and songs for the times

Jeffrey Remz  |  June 5, 2020

I've been struggling about how to address the tragedies of murder and a longstanding, eons-old system that is broken against those of color and of less means.

This week, two African-American singers, Mickey Guyton and Kane Brown, released songs that fit the times. Neither Guyton, who's been kicking around Nashville for a long time without ever having had the chance (hopefully yet) to release an album, and Brown, who, of course, is of star status, wrote the song in response to George Floyd.

Both "Black Like Me" from Guyton and "Worldwide Beautiful" from Brown were written about a year ago. They obviously knew that this unfortunately was the time to release both songs.

The words from both are powerful. In the case of Guyton, it has to do with the inequities faced by blacks in America versus the white picket fences of the larger white society. It's stark and sad, while stating truths of life in America.

The lyrics are:
Little kid in a small town
I did my best just to fit in
Broke my heart on the playground, mmh
When they said I was different

Oh, now
Now, I'm all grown up and nothin' has changed
Yeah, it's still the same

It's a hard life on easy street
Just white painted picket fences far as you can see
If you think we live in the land of the free
You should try to be black like me

My daddy worked day and night
For an old house and a used car
Just to live that good life, mmh
It shouldn't be twice as hard

Oh, now
Now, I'm all grown up and nothin' has changed
Yeah, it's still the same

It's a hard life on easy street
Just white painted picket fences far as you can see
If you think we live in the land of the free
You should try to be, oh, black like me

Oh, I know
I'm not
The only one
Oh, yeah
Who feels
Like I
I don't belong

It's a hard life on easy street
Just white painted picket fences far as you can see
And if you think we live in the land of the free
You should try to be, oh, black like me
Oh, and some day we'll all be free
And I'm proud to be, oh, black like me
And I'm proud to be black like me
I'm proud to be black like me
Black like me

Brown takes a more hopeful look at humanity with the hope that we all will, in effect, not worry about color in working together to make the world a better place.

The lyrics are:
White churches, black churches
Different people, same hearses t's kinda hard to fight with each other
Laying down in the ground, six under
At every show I see my people
They ain't the same but they're all equal
One love, one God, one family

You're missing every color
If you're only seeing black and white
Tell me how you're gonna change your mind
If your heart's unmovable
We ain't that different from each other
From one to another, I look around
And see worldwide beautiful

Thank God, thank God, thank God, thank God, thank God, thank God
Oh, thank God, thank God, thank God, thank God, thank God, thank God
Coast to coast, city to city
Reach out your hands if you're with me
Still got some work but we still got a dream
Every shade, every heart come together and sing
Oh, thank God, thank God, thank God, thank God, thank God, thank God

You're missing every color
If you're only seeing black and white
Tell me how you're gonna change your mind
If your heart's unmovable
We ain't that different from each other
From one to another, I look around
And see worldwide beautiful

One love, one God, one family (One family, y'all, c'mon)
One love, one God, one family (Worldwide beautiful)
One love, one God, one family (Worldwide beautiful)
One Love, one God, one family (Sing it with me)

You're missing every color
If you're only seeing black and white
Tell me how you're gonna change your mind
If your heart's unmovable
We ain't that different from each other
From one to another, I look around
And see worldwide beautiful
Look around and see worldwide beautiful, so beautiful
Look around and see worldwide beautiful
(Worldwide beautiful)
(Worldwide beautiful)
Look around and see worldwide beautiful

I urge all to listen and think about the simple, yet thought-provoking messages of both these songs as we all acknowledge that we must do better as a society.