The Soundtrack to Our Lives 2021

The tumultuous times of today have yet to produce a new golden age of protest songs. It may be best that music shifts gears and works as an instrument of healing, as with the tracks on the playlist here.

The Soundtrack to Our Lives 2021

By Bill King

Unlike the summer of 1968 we don’t have young men and women marching off to fight an unpopular war in Vietnam. We don’t have a soundtrack that reflects the anxiety and inequities that plague neighboured after neighbourhood. We don’t have a Marvin Gaye and Inner City Blues, the Beatles and Revolution, Gil Scott-Heron and The Revolution Won’t Be Televised, Creedence Clearwater and Fortunate Son, Neil Young and Ohio, Funkadelic – March to the Witch’s Castle – Sam Cooke – A Change is Gonna Come, a Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall. That’s not to say songwriters haven’t chimed in and tried their best to get a footing in the moment with something impactful and enlightening. I’m guessing it has more to do with fatigue. How many times can an artist be the canary in the coal mine? The gig is exhausting.


As a young man situated at times in the grave hostilities of the '60s, the days ahead may pale in comparison. I, too, was brought up in an evangelical home and served by a fire-breathing and fire-eating minister who saw Satan rounding every corner with handcuffs and a pistol strapped to his side. Who was Satan? Liberals. Dear Lord, say it isn’t so. I remember those visits from right wing dictators from Panama and preacher man pushing the medal studded mannequins to the pulpit and helping them beg for dollars in support. To me, these guys always looked much like Italian strongman Benito Mussolini. What were these dressed up props' connection with our church and other Christian entities? Money for converting the local masses. Supposed dollars to change the hearts and minds of Latinos and win them over to right wing causes.

Last week’s riot and killings at the U.S. capital building came not as a shock but as a reminder of what drove me across the border to Canada in the first place. Religion, rotten politicians, the military, policing, big money all tied together in one long yet to be victorious dance. That Duck Dynasty mob rampaging on the steps and inside the capital building are akin to my descendants. I heard it all growing up in an area of America that considers themselves victimized by everything. Try having a conversation with someone who believes only in the words they spout and shuts the universe out. These folks actually believe Paris is a place where the devil vacations.


Four years ago, when Trump glided down that escalator and began demeaning Mexicans, I knew it was game on for this fascist dictator wanna be. If my dad had only lived long enough to see Trump in his finest hour, he would have worn that silly red hat in rhythm.

As kids, we’d fish with the old man and his buddies. In between war stories they’d talk of the decline of America and how Hollywood was poisoning the minds of their kids. They’d raise that duck hunting shotgun and pepper a tree with buckshot and give the moment a name – “hippy time.” I’m being frank here. Those good ole boys were always on the wrong side of justice and freedom. Nothing new here. It’s that, no one in any way governs their actions. That’s why few law enforcement types would enter the hills and mountains of Appalachia. Back in 2009, a documentary floated about, The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, shot in Boone County and chronicling the White family. The Whites were a generation of dirt-poor squatters that lived pay check to pay check off the government and squandered it on OxyContin and alcohol. You think Night of the Living Dead is scary – these folks will give you chills. Vicious, intimidating, scoundrels and stalkers.


We came face to face with these types of as young teenagers. You’d think we’d have something in common connected to our roots – but no. The mistrust they carry is inbred. Which brings me to those who stormed the capital building. It’s Smokey and the Bandit hour. This is made for TV stuff for them. The big show. You could see mixed between the white supremacists and neo-Nazis, men and women wearing that look of, “I’m here, what’s next?” These are the same 1000 folks I blocked on Facebook. I distinctly remember the day Trump took office some of my former classmates cheering – “now’s the time – he’s here.” I’m thinking you are cheering for a full time grifter and game show host? The guy’s a clown. Let the games begin.

I could write for days how Trump has manipulated the good folks, charmed the most devout, co-opted Christian ministries, emboldened the evangelicals, but I’ll leave the post script to historians. Besides, it’s screaming down an abandoned coal mine.

Back to my point of this script. I’m thinking Covid-19 is having a greater effect over music than the battle scenes in the streets. There is a resolve that says, there is too much pain and suffering and music must shift gears and work as an instrument of healing, and I think the music tracks that are finding favour for me and son Jesse for Soul Nation @jazzfm.91 Tuesday nights support that argument. That’s not to say there isn’t the will to stand up and fight in music, but I’m guessing, “you’re late to the game.” We’re trapped indoors in our self-contained worlds that begs for a new soundtrack – something that enhances the mood, relieves the stress and amplifies the goodness of the moment. I’m all in. My takeaway? Contemporary gospel, classic soul, light jazz, neo soul and hip hop. Here are ten ways to feel better, lighten the heart and cleanse the soul.


  1. The Love Today Project - Love’s in Need of Love

  2. Justin Bieber – Anyone – I said it. His best.

  3. Sounds of Blackness – I Believe

  4. Chuck Brown – Beautiful Life

  5. Common/Jill Scott – Show Me That You Love Me

  6. Bootsy Collins – I’m Leavin’ U

  7. Tamela Mann – Change Me

  8. Jordan John – Get in the Groove

  9. Tasha Cobbs Leonard – You Know My Name

  10. Anthony Brown group therApy – Testimony

Billboard Japan


Music News

Japan’s MILLENNIUM PARADE Coming to Toronto on 2024 Global Tour: See the Schedule

The band, led by Daiki Tsuneta of King Gnu, will kick off the trek on Nov. 2 in Mexico City.

MILLENNIUM PARADE is set to launch its first-ever global tour called the WHO AND HOW TOUR 2024 in November, traveling to nine cities around the world for 10 shows.

The band, led by Daiki Tsuneta of King Gnu, will kick off the trek in Mexico City, then hit Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Berlin, Paris, London, Utrecht, and Tokyo. The Tokyo shows will take place at Tokyo Garden Theater on Dec. 19 and 20. The tour will mark the first time in three years that the band performs live.

keep readingShow less