Popular music has celebrated themes of love, lust, heartbreak, sorrow, and dancing. While Woody Guthrie and Eminem have engaged with politics, fewer artists have tackled foreign aid.
What about foreign aid? Here is a quick list of sweet jams and groovin’ songs related to international aid. The list is compiled by the author.
“Crumbs From Your Table” – U2
There is no way that a list like this could be made without mentioning Bono and U2’s music. A long time supporter of foreign aid efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa, Bono has been one of the most outspoken celebrities when it comes to humanitarian causes. This song is commonly believed to be a critique of Evangelical charities that haven’t addressed the true causes of poverty but focus solely on religious conversion.
“You speak of signs and wonders,
But I need something other,
I would believe if I was able,
But I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table,
Where you live should not decide,
Whether you live or whether you die,
Three to a bed,
Sister Ann, she said,
Dignity passes by”
“We Are The World” – USA For Africa”
This super-popular song raised more than $50 million to help build the developing future of African countries. The song, written in part by Michael Jackson, was performed by a dream team of 80’s recording artists. The band included Stevie Wonder, Billie Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Dan Aykroyd! The song raised even more money when covers were performed for other world disasters and merchandise revenue was included. The song is still remembered as one of the biggest superstar collaborations in American history. Also, Dan Aykroyd sang in the chorus for a song that blew away Chevy Chase and Paul Simon’s collaboration “You Can Call Me Al.”
“Man in the Mirror” – Michael Jackson
Mr. Jackson is back again! Though the world-famous musician’s final years were filled with controversy, the message of this song couldn’t be sullied. This is a song about the most important step in the pursuit of any goal, the first one. “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and make that change.” It isn’t one giant miracle that’s needed to help the suffering people of Earth, just millions of individual, personal changes. Sometimes the little changes go a long way, a few extra dollars given here or there, a minute to spare calling your representatives or even just a moment talking about world issues with your friends.
– Kevin Sullivan