Music is My Sanctuary

Ten years ago, when John Mayer released the single “Waiting on the World to Change,” I thought it was one of the corniest songs ever recorded, a hyper-earnest lament about the social and political repression of what we now call “Millennials.” I couldn’t believe that the single was successful, and considered it just one more sign of the public’s bad taste.

I feel like apologizing profusely to Mr. Mayer. That song–the same song I mocked a decade ago–helped me get through this week.

These specific lyrics chilled me with the context of Donald Trump’s rise to power:

When you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want
That’s why we’re waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change
It’s not that we don’t care
We just know that the fight ain’t fair
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

The mainstream media owned the information, all right–giving Donald Trump countless hours of free advertising, downplaying his racism, sexism and xenophobia, not focusing on the flesh-and-blood consequences of his policies. And they bent that information all they wanted–peddling all manner and manifestation of lies and rumors about Hillary Clinton, hyping up nonexistent scandals, trying to present Clinton and Trump as equally dishonest, equally deceitful, equally dishonorable.

Were it not for the power of music–from Mr. Mayer and others–I wonder how many people would have been able to pull through this week. There’s something about music that can pull one from the brink of despair and depression, to make people realize that there’s still a degree of hope, to encourage people to fight for a better tomorrow.

In the spring of 1971, Marvin Gaye asked “What’s Going On”; just a few months later, Sly and the Family Stone famously declared in response that there was a riot going on. Indeed, as Van Jones has observed, the riot is being directed at those who represent America’s diversity–the folks that Trump’s supporters do not regard as real Americans.

Music is going to be one of the few things than can ease the pain of the next four years–and make no mistake, there will be big-league pain, even if Democrats recapture the House and Senate in 2018. As Desi Doyen observed on the November 10 edition of investigative journalist Brad Friedman’s BradCast, “This is where the artists and the musicians and the comedians are going to help get us through this part, and help create the world that we need to have happen.”

To that end, I wonder what Robin Williams would say about all this. What would he say about those who actually believed Trump would make America great again? What would he say about those who scorned Hillary Clinton, those who could not countenance the thought of a woman running the free world?

Mayer’s song concludes:

One day our generation
Is gonna rule the population
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

Of course, the courageous citizens demonstrating against the threat of Trump aren’t waiting on the world to change. They’re going to change it ahead of schedule. President-elect Trump doesn’t like it. Too bad.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.