Music and Spirituality: What A Wonderful World

Most people know the song first performed by Louis Armstrong. It's been performed by countless artists, and used as an accompaniment to numerous shows, movies, and charitable events. After its original release in 1967, the song has been converted into punk, techno, country & western, and a really bad rap version performed by Kirk Jones. The Hawaiian version done by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole is definitely my favorite.

When I think of this song, I'm reminded of an old commercial using the song with beautiful images of landscape. Near the end of the commercial, they pulled back to show this amazing picture of Earth. Do you remember?

I clearly recall staring at the "blue marble" image on our TV. As Louis' gravelly voice sang of optimism in the background, I was awestruck and comforted at the same time. It made me feel The Cold War would end peacefully. It gave me hope that Mom might get a job and we'd stop being poor. Together with the photo, the singing gave me hope: a wonderful yet scary emotion.

And immediately after this magnificent prospect of hope I'd created, the music stopped and hands started to crush this picture of Earth. The wadded-up paper ball was thrown in a garbage basket, and the commercial ended with an ominous message:

"If you litter, you're throwing it all away." (It might have been a recycling ad as well. If you remember, please tell me. I'll lose sleep otherwise...seriously.)

While the commercial may have gotten lost in the clutter of my memory, that Utopian sense of happiness still remains. Optimism is a rare commodity these days; it's just so easy to type up rants and ravings about governmental decisions or not getting skim milk with your coffee.

What I find inspiring about this song is the reminder to step back and really admire God's work. We work too hard, we scribble in our date books, we squabble about waiting at a red light. But none of that really means a thing. We're here for a purpose far greater than any middle-management supervisor could ever bestow upon you. Sometimes, we just need a reminder.

It really is a wonderful world. Look for yourself. No surprises...I promise.

I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom for
Me and you

And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

I see skies of blues
And clouds of white
The bright, blessed day
The dark, sacred night

And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow
So pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces
of people going by

I see friends shaking hands
Saying "how do you do?"
They're really saying
"I love you."

I hear babies crying
I watch them grow
They'll learn much more
Then I'll ever know

And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

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1 Response to Music and Spirituality: What A Wonderful World

July 2, 2007 at 1:50 PM

Nice blog!

I love that song too. It manages to be real without being saccharine.