What the world needs now is love. That was a sentiment offered up in a 1960s song, as America was torn by racial strife and the Vietnam War. I was only a child when assassins bullets took down first John Kennedy, then Martin Luther King, and then just a few months later John Kennedy's younger brother Bobby Kennedy, just after he had won the California primary and was poised to capture the Democratic nomination for President. Like I said, I was but a child, and I wasn't really paying all that much attention to what was going on at the time. I lived in small towns/cities and was pretty innocent about such things.
Now, I'm in my late 50s, no longer a child. Though we might wish that the world has changed, things like racism, bigotry, hatred remain with us. It is true that much has changed and things have improved in many ways, and yet the root issues that divide are still with us. They're deeply rooted in our systems. So, yes we need love today as much as ever before. Indeed, right now, at this moment, as the nation faces dramatic divisions, we need to hear this message again.
With this in mind I want to share this video of the Tom Clay mix from 1971 of the songs "What the World Needs Now" and "Abraham, Martin, and John." I first encountered this version of the songs listening to a friend's 45 rpm record. It was back in the 1970s. It moved me then and continues to move me today. I hope listening and watching will move you as well. Pay close attention to the questions that frame this piece. These are important questions for our time, even as they were in 1968 and 1971.
Just a note on how this came to be. In 1971 a Detroit DJ named Tom Clay mixed the two songs together with audio clips relating to the message and deaths of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy. This video is but one version available on YouTube.