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LOVE IS THE ANSWER
One of my favorite songs ever played on the radio is the Todd Rundgren composition, “Love Is The Answer” that was made popular by England Dan and John Ford Coley. The melody pierced my heart, sounded slightly haunting, but mostly left me feeling encouraged somehow. The lyrics dripped sweet honey into my soul and when the song was through, I understood my place in this world. Internalizing the heart healing power of your favorite song is good for what ails you. This one I gladly share with you, especially in this time of fear and uncertainly. You won’t feel afraid after really giving this song I chance to wash through your essence as if you were baptized by The Savior himself. Will you explore with me, friend? The opening lines:
“Name your price
A ticket to paradise
I can’t stay here anymore
And I’ve looked high and low”
When I first heard this verse, it shot through me like a drug. I got high, a tinge of sorrow mixed with a shot of hope. I felt lighter than air, and I got super oxygenated! Funny thing is, I was already from Paradise, as some people call it, from a tiny town on the west side of Oahu called Waianae. So hearing a haole guy from the mainland talk about it meant to me personally, ‘I must be halfway there.’ That was mostly true. My life thus far was pretty cool. Raised in Hawaii, having graduated with honors from Waianae High School, in my hand the most scholarship money any student had acquired (along with four Presidential Fitness Awards) to date, was pretty sweet. I was about to marry for the first time as well. The year was 1979. The Utopia version of the song, the band name Todd was using at the time, flew low to the ground and I had not heard it. Radio was very corporate here back in the 70’s. Who knew? Anyway, when England Dan and John Ford Coley released it, it soared to the top of the charts and exploded into my heart. I have carried it with me all this time. A love bomb. The next lines....
“I’ve been from shore to shore to shore to shore
If there’s a short cut I’d have found it
But there’s no easy way around it.”
I had not yet spread my wings, so this part of the song kinda went over my head. Somehow, I knew I was going to though. In the many moons since, I have indeed gone from shore to shore to shore. Fast forward to the 90’s, I was an international entertainer, having performed shows around the world. You see, I had left those scholarships behind, said ‘no thank you’ to the college indoctrination of useless information, and hit the road doing what I loved to do best. SING! I was indeed looking for something, and often took the long way....the hard road...the tough chew. So this verse was waiting to resonate with me. And boy did it ever! We are all on a lifelong search for something. Call it happiness if you like. I know that was true for me. I was happy every time I grabbed the mic but still had not grasped what true happiness was. After having children is when I started to get it. I had a real purpose in this existence, in between fighting for my right to be free of control and restrictions along the way. Husbands. Taxes. Insurances. Geez what a racket that shit is. But I digress....There are no short cuts. We all must complete our missions. For some of us, it was not going to be easy, and it often ends kinda rough (to paraphrase Tina Turner.) Believe me, I had plenty of ‘rough’!
“Light of the world
Shine on me
Love is the Answer
Shine on us all
Set us free
Love is the Answer”
The chorus to this song, the hook, the message, can mean so many things to so many people. For me, however, when I hear ‘light-of-the-world’ it is personal. It is referring to my Lord and Savior, The Christ. His light has always shone on me. He was there when I needed him most (Christ is personified as a ‘he’ to me because I have daddy issues ok?) during some pretty tough experiences. Childhood sexual abuse. Physical abuse by persons I loved and trusted. I was propositioned by a police officer to become a prostitute and often roughed up by them. Eww. I experienced hard core racial discrimination when it was no longer considered a thing, over and over again. I had an ongoing and very nasty case of PTSD and didn’t know it. “He” was always there to lift me out of my pit of despair too many times to count. “He” was the Light of the World, brightly lit, manifesting sometimes with a small still voice to whisper gently, “don’t give in, never surrender. Keep going. You are loved.” I was set free time and time again by his glorious counsel, my little light shining brightly from my eyes. The second verse delved deeper still.
“Who knows why
Someday we all must die
There are homeless boys and girls
And we are never heard
It’s such a lonely lonely lonely world
People turn their heads and walk on by
Tell me, is it worth just another try?”
My life has been a secret mission to help others. Please don’t tell anybody. I like being known as The Queen of Mean. Despite the inherent tendency to lose my patience (PTSD) with other peoples badly raised kids, inept customer service agents, and flight attendants (and their ilk) who too willingly violate my sovereignty, I have in fact rescued, helped, tended to, cared for, and loved family members, friends, and sometimes complete strangers. So for me, it is always worth ‘another try’ and I have never been selfishly guarded no matter how I might try. My heart has always been displayed prominently on my sleeve, and though I get called naive and ridiculed for my constant insistence on heeding the call, I soldier on like a missionary character from an Ingrid Bergman movie, “Inn Of The Sixth Happiness.” Homeless boys and girls need more love, and the world is running in short supply these days. Let us all lend a hand. As in yesterday.
Here comes the second chorus. The sweet surrender of hearing the point of the song again. It does something to you when you give in to the positive messaging and mindfulness of the short but soul drenching phrase, “love is the answer.” What does that mean to you, listener? Was this a message sent from the heavens? Did it beam into Todd’s heart and spew out into the ethers for a reason? If I was the only one who heard it, it would dissipate like mist on a window pane. But truly, I was not. The entire English speaking world heard it and it managed to activate us for a time like this. We, of the musical persuasion, have been secret soldiers this entire time. My personal mission has only just begun. Back to the song. By the time the second chorus hits me, I am in tears. The arrangement of this version of the song has completely augmented the experience from what he originally recorded into something spectacular! It feels more otherworldly than not. The sonic experience is building to a frothing head and a true listener, an honest hearer, is about to get slammed with faith, hope, and joy. Get ready. Here is comes. BAM! The ride out!
“And when you feel afraid (Love one another)
When you’ve lost your way (Love one another)
When you’re all alone (Love one another)
When you’re far from home (Love one another)
When you’re down and out (Love one another)
All your hopes run out (Love one another)
When you need a friend
When you’re near the end (Love, we got to love, we got to love one another)”
In musicians terms, which I fought long and hard to qualify as, the “ride out” as it is called, is sometimes used to whip a message up into a frenzy. This one really works magic because the background vocalists are moved up to the frontline, the vanguard, and do a serious number on your heart. Death to misery! Attack! It swells your muscle to maximum capacity filling it with as much aloha as you can hold, with angels standing by to minister to your weary soul. Fear cannot enter a heart full of love. And we have been fed a constant regimen of fear porn for almost two years. Longer, actually. The shame of telling people lies. Auwe! The crime of people believing the lies. The division in families, most hateful of all, is a testimony to the craftiness of the demonic messaging. Most folks have indeed lost their way and feel alone. Being ‘far from home’ in this case easily translates to having left your common sense and decency behind. The ghoulish nightmare of segregation is repeating itself and it isn’t pretty. It is a petty testimony to who and what is in charge here. Too many other songs have warned us. (Roberta Flack, “Reverend Lee; Stevie Wonder, “Superstition”) It has left so many ‘down and out,’ with their ‘hope run out,’ in desperate need of friendship. I am willing to help you heal, arming you with true knowledge, using a treasure trove of hope. But honestly, the first thing you need to do it listen to this song! Music heals!!
“Love one another” is the universal message no matter what your faith is. Even if you have no faith in anything but your humanity, it is the same. Love is our only saving grace, in the end, no matter how close or how far that end is for you. We have all experienced the lack of love, with flu like symptoms, especially in this last couple of years. First you feel like something is wrong. Then you feel like your body is hurting and out of steam, no energy. You need more love, but you can’t seem to get it. You run to a doctor perhaps, and he either gives you pills (pharmakeia, Greek for spells, now known as pharmaceuticals) or sends you home, without love, to ride it out. Because you have been too busy in this hectic world of ours to truly pay attention to your own health, mentally, physically, and definitely spiritually, you go home and your symptoms worsen. You start to chill (denial), get a fever (anger) then shake and shiver yourself into a sweaty frenzy (confusion.) This is where the wee beastie gets you. Confusion. Your own ignorance. You did not do your due diligence and still don’t care to. You let others do it for you, and there in lies the rub. You let someone else get into your head and take over your sensibility. You are suffering from the lack of love, and energetically speaking, most don’t get his part. If you subscribe to the sacred verses, His message was purely this: Love One Another. It is a healer. A giver. An innermost knowing of all things great and minuscule. Love IS the answer and always has been. Love yourself by taking better care of your health. Don’t be a manipulated statistic either. The flu is the true killer. Arm yourself with love of self and get healthy! Eat well. Read more. Pray often.
Mahalo nui, Todd. This song encircles our very being with the will to not only survive, but thrive! I was fortunate enough to catch your tall lanky self (with a poet’s voice) at the last concert Ringo Starr did in Honolulu. You sang this song as part of a special guest spot, delivering His message, The Light of the World, to us all in attendance. I think, however, only some of us resonated in the purple aura of that mighty blessing that night, but such is this lonely world you spoke of. I am merely a voice on the wind, listening to your roar in my heart. Malama pono, sir, how I value this incredible song and gift of love. Amene!
**artwork by Allison Wolf