Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Dr. King!

Sunrise: January 15, 1929
Sunset: April 4, 1968

"Happy Birthday" is a 1981 single written, produced, and performed by Stevie Wonder for the Motown label. Wonder, a social activist, was one of the main figures in the campaign to have the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. become a national holiday, and created this single to make the cause known.

You know it doesn't make much sense
There ought to be a law against
Anyone who takes offense
At a day in your celebration
'Cause we all know in our minds
That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you
And I'm sure you will agree
It couldn't fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

I just never understood
How a man who died for good
Could not have a day that would
Be set aside for his recognition
Because it should never be
Just because some cannot see
The dream as clear as he
That they should make it become an illusion
And we all know everything
That he stood for time will bring
For in peace our hearts will sing
Thanks to Martin Luther King

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

Why has there never been a holiday
Where peace is celebrated
all throughout the world

The time is overdue
For people like me and you
You know the way to truth
Is love and unity to all God's children
It should be a great event
And the whole day should be spent
In full remembrance
Of those who lived and died for the oneness of
all people
So let us all begin
We know that love can win
Let it out don't hold it in
Sing it loud as you can

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

(Background Stevie)
Happy birthday Ooh yeah
Happy birthday,
To you

We know the key to unity of all
Is in the dream that you had so
Long ago
That lives in all of the hearts
Of people
That believe in unity
We'll make the dream become
A reality
I know we will
Because our hearts tell us so

The song, one of many of Wonder's songs to feature the use of a keyboard synthesizer, features Wonder lamenting the fact that anyone would oppose the idea of a Dr. King holiday, where "peace is celebrated throughout the world". The holiday, he proposes, would facilitate the realization of Dr. King's dreams of integration and "love and unity for all of God's children".

Wonder used the song to popularize the campaign, and continued his fight for the holiday, holding the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. United States President Ronald Reagan approved the creation of the holiday, signing it into existence on November 2, 1983. The first official Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, held the third Monday in January of each year, was held on January 20, 1986, and was commemorated with a large-scale concert, where Stevie Wonder was the headlining performer.

Although the single failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100, it became one of Wonder's biggest hits in the UK, reaching No.2 in the charts in August 1981.

Other hit songs about Martin Luther King include "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" and "MLK" by U2, "Abraham, Martin & John" by Dion and "King" by UB40.

In some African-American circles, the chorus of the song is sung in addition to, or in place of, the traditional "Happy Birthday to You".

1 comment:

texas_fan said...

He was a godly man and a great inspiration to us all.