If You’re Out There….

C6073662 I’ve gone on record before as saying that I’m bothered at the amount of attention that is being given to Senator Obama’s race (or at least one HALF of his race).  I totally understand the significance of race in this country.  Considering the fact that only fifty years ago Senator Obama might not have even been able to sit at the same table to have dinner as Joe Biden, this could indeed be an incredible point of arrival for this country.  However, my pride comes from the fact that he represents so much more.  I am sorta in between Generations X and Y.  And speaking for them, we’ve always had these legends told to us about being able to stand up tall knowing that your Chief Executive in the White House was someone who you could be proud of.  It’s funny to see pictures of relative’s homes and see images of John Kennedy and Martin King on their walls in the background.  And it’s not to say that we don’t identify with those men.  We certainly do.  But the question which has always lurked in the back of our minds is, “Where is OUR John Kennedy?”  Is the best we can aspire to now to sit and dream of images of our leaders of old?

I had a close friend laugh at me when I sent her the YouTube links to the Obama-inspired songs (Yes We Can and We Are the Ones).  She’s kinda reductive anyway (and she admits that she is).  But her comment was, “Do you think that a song or a video will coerce me into voting for a candidate.”  And although I didn’t take the time to properly respond (because you can always tell when someone is tuning you out) but if I did take the time to respond, it would be to suggest this: while I don’t believe that a song done ‘We Are the World’ style can tickle your emotions and cause you to action, the songs are more than just blind faith celebrity driven anthems.  They represent the things that I have been wondering whether or not people cared about anymore (particularly the ‘We Are the Ones’ video.)  After all, these are all pretty much millionaires who are supporting a man who tells them that in order to do the things that we need to do that he’ll raise their taxes (everyone making under 250K lowered taxes, assumption is that the ones over will contribute more.  We’ll see.)

But more than this, I have fears about tomorrow.  (Tuesday November 4, 2008.)  Will this be the day that we can start on the road to disproving everyone who says that the kind of change that has been talked about since January is false hope?  “How does he think he can get all that stuff done?”  Well, here we are again.  Every first Tuesday of November – seemingly every four years since 2000, I literally sit up, in the dark, after having cast my vote earlier and watch Tom Brokaw…and get a headache.  No, not a figurative headache.  A literal headache.  This is before the returns are even in.  It just happens.  Perhaps it’s anxiety.  (Maybe even it’s the fact that I’m watching TV in the dark.)  But it happens.  I am about as nervous as I’ve ever been with this election.  And my anxiety extends even past the election, but that’s another post.

My fears are largely concerning the fact that I wonder if all the shirt-wearing, bumper-sticker wearing folks that I didn’t see when I stood on empty voting lines in 2000 and particularly in 2004, will show up.  I just worry that people aren’t seeing the bigger picture and the potential unity that this might represent.  Everyone was partying when Senator Obama won the nomination – I didn’t quite understand why we were partying during halftime at the Super Bowl where there was no score.

Back during the Democratic Convention, someone told me that John Legend had written a song about the hope that Barack represents.  But more so about the call to action that it requires for this to become a reality.  I was working during the convention, so I only saw the speeches made by each candidate when I got home.  But I did download the song.  And I cried.


I’ve been critical of John Legend.  The last album (with the exception of Again, just left me deflated.  And this album isn’t too much better.)  I wondered if he was the guy I believed him to be.  I guess for me the truth is that, like Badu, when Legend is on, he’s on.  Stuff like Ordinary People, Again, So High, and I Love, You Love (from the new CD) are just incredible and unlike anything that is being released today. 

But for me, If You’re Out There just represents that sentiment that I talked about with John Kennedy.  Not just towards Senator Obama.  But to everyone.  All of the people who joined together on September 12 seven years ago and seem to have lost their passion.  And I get emotional when I think about this song, particularly as it pertains to young people.  I take lunch at 3pm and I often walk back to my desk with minimal hope for our future after I observe the behavior of our children.  I know our mothers and fathers worried about us in the same way.  (And maybe they should have – we’ve seemingly dropped the ball to have reached this point in the country.)  But, I digress.

More than the ‘Yes We Can’’ and ‘We Are the Ones’ videos, this song represents us all.  And at the root of the question is whether or not we will all come out and vote for our future.  And to clarify, ‘we’ doesn’t mean people of color.  It means all Americans who long for the days of a president who elicits such pride that you’d hang a picture of him on your wall.  Or be pleased to see his face on a coin.  Or on a stamp.  John Legend has it right.  Now the only question that remains is whether we’re out there. 

Ohio, Florida, Montana, Texas, Atlanta, Pennsylvania — I’m dying to believe that you’re out there.

I’m posting the acoustic version that was performed on the Bill Maher show.  (I think the acoustic part at the beginning holds so much more emotion.  Bringing in the beat on the studio version just takes away from the purity of the message.)

If you hear this message
herever you stand
I’m calling every woman
Calling every man
We’re the generation
We can’t afford to wait
The future started yesterday
And we’re already late

We’ve been looking for a song to sing
Searched for a melody
Searched for someone to lead
We’ve been looking for the world to change
If you feel the same
Then go on and say

If you’re out there
Sing along with me
If you’re out there
I’m dying to believe
That you’re out there
Stand up and say it loud
If you’re out there
Tomorrow’s starting now

No more broken promises
No more call to war
Unless it’s love and peace that
We’re really fighting for
We can destroy hunger
We can conquer hate
Put down the arms and raise your voice
We’re joining hands today

(Oh I) I was looking for a song to sing
I searched for a leader
But the leader was me
We were looking for the world to change
We can be heroes
Just go on and say

Repeat Chorus

If you’re ready we can shake the world
Believe again
It starts within
We don’t have to wait for destiny
We should be the change
That we want to see
If you’re out there (Oh!..)

If you’re out there
And you’re ready now
Say it loud
Scream it out

Repeat Chorus

If you hear this message
Wherever you stand
I’m calling every woman,
Calling every man
We’re the generation
We can’t afford to wait
The future started yesterday
And we’re already late

2 Responses to “If You’re Out There….”

  1. November 4, 2008 at 1:49 am


    Great post. I saw this performance after watching the Bill Maher Show on Friday and I immediately thought of JFK and my desire to be inspired like he inspired so many. Hopefully we wake up Wednesday morning with a new sense of pride and a much needed sense of hope. Please continue to remind the youth of our country that this election is not the end but rather the beginning. The beginning of a life of political involvement. It is easy for today’s generation to take this moment in history for granted. Many people have waited their entire lives to see a minority elected to the highest office in the land – they didn’t have to wait nearly as long. We can’t wait for things to get this bad again – engagement must occur during each election, not just every 4 years. Keep up the good fight.


  2. November 14, 2008 at 12:48 am

    i was in the audience for this performance. it was, well, it was euphoric… i just wish i could find an acoustic version of the song to download (that’s how i found your blog – which is great, btw).

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