Music pick: “Lift Me Up”

27 Jan

My good friend Jeff, music sophisticate and your fellow NYU student, signs on to bring you his music pick of the week.

As a Music Business major, and possible Creative Writing minor, I didn’t take the invitation to write for BLoGT particularly lightly. I was asked to write about music, and that is exactly what I plan to do. But if you’re like me–or even if you’re not–hopefully you’ll end up gaining something more from the music.

As a public writer, one has a responsibility. Whether one wants to take on or is even aware of that responsibility is an entirely other subject, but it exists nonetheless. While readers may not admit it, each one of them is affected by what they read—those very words, produced in the fashion you chose, have now made some type of impact on their minds. The reader may choose to criticize, agree, mock, support, a whole list of verbs with your thoughts—but one thing they cannot do is ignore.

Which is why I’m going to start with something I hope will make a dent in your minds in more ways than one. The first piece of music I’m going to discuss premiered just last Friday, due to an event that took the world by surprise on January 12. A catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Caribbean country of Haiti just a few miles from its capital, affecting millions. As relief came from various sources from the Red Cross, to Yele Haiti (all of which you can still donate to easily whether through text message, iTunes, websites, and other sources), the Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief charity telethon with musical performances, celebrity phone operators, and live broadcasts from Haiti was put together just ten days after the disaster.

The musical highlight of the telethon, to me, came from Christina Aguilera’s performance. Premiering a new song from upcoming spring release Bionic, Aguilera performed “Lift Me Up” in a stripped-down setting featuring co-writer Linda Perry on piano and a four-piece string section.

“So the pain begins,” starts the first words of the song and we can tell we’re in for a treat. With a piano structure faintly reminiscent of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Aguilera takes us on a vocal journey, never over-doing it (as she’s been criticized—unfairly, in my humble opinion—for in the past). The chorus hits,

If you lift me up / Just get me through this night / I know I’ll rise tomorrow / And I’ll be strong enough to try,

with such simple words, but ringing so true. Nothing cliché or gag-worthy, simply a plea that if you lift me up, I’ll at least be able to try, despite the fact there is a lot of pain. With a breakdown section of softer vocals, even more touching lyrics, and finally a soaring ending, “Lift Me Up,” which has not been released in its official version, can be interpreted as plea to above, a friend, a lover, a country, a soul; but whatever you are pleading to, this is as raw of a plea as one can get.

The song perfectly touches on exactly what Haiti needs. If we decide to help, maybe Haiti gets the chance to rebuild itself. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere; the fact that something so horrific happened there seems unfair. Yet it did, and now it is up to us to lift it up. I talked about the responsibility a writer has earlier, and I feel that talking about this song, this voice, this tragedy, and the way we can all help is part of my duty.

Or maybe I’ve done something else for you (which I hope I will at some point), and you want to tell someone or something else that if they lift, you’ll be better. Maybe you connect to the bridge,

When you see me crashing / And there’s nowhere left to fall / Will you lift me even higher, to rise above this all?

Tell them. (I tried, but they were asleep when I told them.) Maybe in your life there’s something else that needs fixing too.

In the future I’ll focus more on the music, but be sure to at least buy this track for the 99 cents it’s more than worth. “Lift Me Up,” in addition to the other 19 tracks as well as the entire telethon itself, is available now at digital music retailers for extremely reasonable (I’d call it “way too cheap”) prices. I hope to fulfill my duties and responsibilities to you readers, and hopefully I’ve made, if only a tiny one, a dent in your mind today.

If you’re looking for a way to help, you can donate to Haiti through the American Red Cross and Yele Haiti online or via text.

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