What the world needs now is love

Lately I’ve been reflecting on how much of the music of the 60s and 70s echoed a simple message: we can change the world with love.

I’m a child of the 80s, but one of my favorite songs is Burt Bacharach’s “What the World Needs Now is Love” from 1965. There are countless songs from around the same time that preach some variation of that theme. Chances are that you know lyrics to the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” from 1967. Another is the Youngbloods’ “Get Together” from the same year. Imagine a song with the following lyrics ever making it to the top 40 today:

If you hear the song I sing/You will understand (listen!)/You hold the key to love and fear/All in your trembling hand/Just one key unlocks them both/It’s there at your command

Come on people now/Smile on your brother/Everybody get together/Try to love one another/Right now

This all sounds so quaint today. How adorable of those hippies to believe the world’s problems could be solved with such a neat, simple solution! But the truth is that the people of that era were neither simple nor naive, nor were the problems they faced any less daunting than the ones we face today. That generation was staring down the barrel of near-certain nuclear annihilation, cities literally on fire with racial strife, and a seemingly pointless, bloody war being waged on other side of the globe. It is remarkable that so many musicians of that era looked at the landscape in front of them and declared some version of the message, “What the world needs now is love.”

The truth is, they were right. And they are right today, and they will still be right one thousand years from now.

There is enough cynicism, enough debate, enough arguing. Don’t ever doubt the real solution. It’s love.