Building bridges and breaking barriers: Here’s 10 top songs to show solidarity

Following the tragic events at Pittsburg just over a week ago, I attended a memorial service at West London Synagogue in solidarity with the Jewish community. The service was emotional, moving, reflective and most importantly gave an opportunity to pay our respects to those who had so tragically lost their lives.

As I looked through the programme before the service started, I was however a bit surprised to discover that the service was to end with a popular piece of music. This was a song that we all know – but one that I now realise I didn’t really “know” that well at all. I certainly didn’t really “feel the message” in the way I was soon to!

With the candles lit, the service formally ended and we were left to reflect on the events with this song playing in the background. In that moment, the words, their voices and the melody were nothing short of perfectly fitting. This beautiful song offered a sad but united end to what was particularly beautiful and very, very moving service at a time of mourning and grief for the Jewish community.

And it’s at this point, as I listened to the words, that I realised just how poignant they were and how strong this song was. And that sparked an idea for future actions and this blog!

We all know that the power of music really is incredible and can really act as a force for good to help others. This particular song offered a hand to a friend in need, a symbol of solidarity in a period of grief and difficulty. With that in mind, I got thinking: how can we replicate this wonderful gesture? What other songs can offer the sense sense of solidarity, friendship and understanding, to reach out to others in need?

Well after careful selection, here they are – ten top songs of solidarity to share with those in need, to reach out, to break down walls and to build bridges. Take a listen and so share when the time comes!

10. Jason Mraz – I Won’t Give Up

This song may be about two lovers but the words can offer comfort, solidarity and warmth to others in times of conflict and during challenging times.

Top lyrics:

[…] I won’t give up on us, even if the skies get rough. I’m giving you all my love. I’m still looking up.

And when you’re needing your space to do some navigating, I’ll be here patiently waiting to see what you find. 

‘Cause even the stars they burn, some even fall to the earth. We’ve got a lot to learn. God knows we’re worth it. No, I won’t give up. 

I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily, I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make. Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use the tools and gifts we got yeah, we got a lot at stake.

And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we didn’t tend for us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn.We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in. I had to learn what I got, and what I’m not, and who I am.

I won’t give up on us, even if the skies get rough. I’m giving you all my love. I’m still looking up. I’m still looking up. […]

9. Coldplay – Fix You

Another relationship song but with some great lyrics for a friend in need!

Top lyrics:

When you try your best but you don’t succeed, when you get what you want but not what you need. When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep, stuck in reverse. 

When the tears come streaming down your face, when you lose something you can’t replace. When you love someone but it goes to waste. Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home and ignite your bones – and I will try to fix you.

And high up above or down below, when you’re too in love to let it go. But if you never try you’ll never know, just what you’re worth. […]

Lights will guide you home and ignite your bones – and I will try to fix you. […]

8. REM – Everybody Hurts

The song that everyone thinks is incredibly depressing (and can be!) actually has a very positive message of reaching out to another during hard times! But use with caution! Read and listen on:

Top lyrics:

When your day is long and the night, the night is yours alone. When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life, well hang on. 

Don’t let yourself go ’cause everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes. Sometimes everything is wrong. […] 

When your day is night – hold on, hold on. When you feel like letting go – hold on. If you think you’ve had too much of this life, well hang on.

‘Cause everybody hurts. Take comfort in your friends. Everybody hurts.

Don’t throw your hand, oh no. Don’t throw your hand. If you feel like you’re alone – no, no, no, you’re not alone. […]

Well, everybody hurts sometimes, everybody cries. Everybody hurts sometimes, everybody hurts sometimes. So hold on, hold on. […] You are not alone. […]

7. Avicii – Hey Brother

A great upbeat song. Blood may be thicker than water but we’re all brothers and sisters in faith and/or humanity- let someone know you’re there for them!

Top lyrics:

Hey brother, there’s an endless road to rediscover. 

Hey sister, know the water’s sweet but blood is thicker. 

Oh, if the sky comes falling down, for you – there’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do.

Hey brother, do you still believe in one another?

Hey sister, do you still believe in love? I wonder. 

Oh, if the sky comes falling down, for you – there’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do.

What if I’m far from home? Oh brother, I will hear your call! What if I lose it all? Oh sister, I will help you out! Oh, if the sky comes falling down, for you – there’s nothing I wouldn’t do. […]

6. The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

This is a classic popular hit with dark themes on death showing solidarity and calling for love. However, this song can still also show solidarity across religious, cultural, ethnic and national boundaries in the present.

Top lyrics:

The road is long with many a winding turn that leads us to who knows where…

But I’m strong – strong enough to carry him. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

So on we go. His welfare is my concern. No burden is he to bear – we’ll get there. For I know, he would not encumber me. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother. 

If I’m laden at all, I’m laden with sadness that everyone’s heart isn’t filled with the gladness of love for one another. 

It’s a long, long road from which there is no return. While we’re on the way to there, why not share?

And the load doesn’t weigh me down at all. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

He’s my brother. He ain’t heavy. […]

5. Bill Withers – Lean on Me

What a classic – the words say it all if you’re after something a little “lighter”!

Top lyrics:

Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow. But if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow.

Lean on me when you’re not strong. I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on for it won’t be long ’til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.

Please swallow your pride if I have things you need to borrow for no one can fill those of your needs that you won’t let show.

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand. We all need somebody to lean on. I just might have a problem that you’ll understand. We all need somebody to lean on.

Lean on me when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend I’ll help you carry on for it won’t be long ’til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand. We all need somebody to lean on.
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand. We all need somebody to lean on.

If there is a load you have to bear that you can’t carry, I’m right up the road. I’ll share your load if you just call me. Call me if you need a friend. […] 

4. Elton John – Your Song

This famous hit is a little cheesy but very sweet. So show some love via Elton!

Top lyrics:

It’s a little bit funny this feeling inside. I’m not one of those who can easily hide.
I don’t have much money but boy if I did I’d buy a big house where we both could live.

If I was a sculptor, but then again, no or a man who makes potions in a traveling show
I know it’s not much but it’s the best I can do my gift is my song and this one’s for you.

And you can tell everybody this is your song. It may be quite simple but now that it’s done. I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words how wonderful life is while you’re in the world. […]

3. U2 and Mary J Blige – One

We’re all equal and we’re all individuals with different personalities and different lives. But despite our differences, we’re all one. We all deserve respect and love and that’s the message we need to share here. Break down the conflict and remind each other of our common humanity!

Top lyrics:

You say one love, one life (one life). […] One love (one love),you get to share you share it. It leaves you darling, if you don’t care for it. 

[…] Well it’s too late tonight to drag the past out into the light. We’re one, but we’re not the same. We get to carry each other, carry each other. One… […]

[…] One love. One blood. One life. You got to do what you should. One life with each other, sisters and my brothers. One life but we’re not the same. We get to carry each other, carry each other. 

One… One love

2. James Taylor – You’ve Got a Friend

Personally dedicated to a late friend of mine, this song is such a special gem. The message is soft, loving, kind but loud and clear. Don’t we all wish to be the kind of friend in this song – the kind of friend we’d like to have? James’ cover of this Carol King classic says it all…

Top lyrics:

When you’re down and troubled and you need a helping hand – and nothing, whoa, nothing is going right – close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there to brighten up even your darkest nights.

You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running, oh yeah baby, to see you again. Winter, spring, summer, or fall – all you got to do is call and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah. You’ve got a friend.

If the sky above you should turn dark and full of clouds and that old north wind should begin to blow, keep your head together and call my name out loud and soon I’ll be knocking upon your door. 

You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am I’ll come running, oh yes I will, see you again. Winter, spring, summer, or fall, yeah – all you got to do is call and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Hey, ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend? […]

1. Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge over Troubled Water

Wow, wow, wow. Yes this – this song – was the one played at the memorial service and it made such a touching end to an emotional service. This song really speaks volumes. Share it loudly and widely and share it with solidarity, friendship and love!

Lyrics:

When you’re weary and feeling small. When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all. I’m on your side oh when times get rough and friends just can’t be found. Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down. Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.

When you’re down and out, when you’re on the street, when evening falls so hard – I will comfort you. I’ll take your part. Oh when darkness comes and pain is all around, like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down. Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.

Sail on, silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine. All your dreams are on their way. See how they shine. Oh if you need a friend, I’m sailing right behind. Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind. Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind.

Reaching out to others really does mean a lot. Sometimes you may not always have the words – but perhaps these songs do? When a tragedy hits, acts of solidarity do really go so far. We must all stand together in solidarity against hatred, against discrimination and against terrorism. Now and forever. Build friendships, strengthen bonds and reach out to others!

In solidarity,

Salam, shalom, peace 

#PittsburgStrong

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