Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. There have been some great songs written in honor of the great man over the years. Here are five of my favorites:
1. "By the Time I Get to Arizona," Public Enemy (1991); Chuck D, aka, the greatest rapper of all time, slams Arizona officials for not recognizing MLK day. He states his points with clarity and, above all else, conviction. Let's just say that you don't want to be on Chuck D's bad side.
2. "King Holiday," various artists (1986): This is one of my all-time favorite all-star jams, on par with such better-known cause-driven singles as "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and "We are the World." The cast included such talents as Whitney Houston, New Edition, Kurtis Blow, The Fat Boys, Run-D.M.C. and Whodini. If you don't know the tune, I suggest you correct that situation immediately.
3. "Pride (In the Name of Love)," U2 (1984) -- It's arguably Bono and the boys' best song, which has weathered the years quite nicely. Yes, the song does contain a factual error — King was shot in the evening, not, as the lyrics state, "early morning." Yet, U2 definitely got more right than wrong here.
4. "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)," Patty Griffin (2007): It's an incredibly moving gospel-tinged folk song, inspired by King's "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, which he gave just one day before his assassination.
5. "Happy Birthday," Stevie Wonder (1981): This anthem definitely helped popularize the crusade to have King's birthday recognized as a national holiday. Well done, Wonder.
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