The World According to Burt Bacharach
In the mid-sixties I recall when my parents, trying to be hip with the times, purchased a console stereo for our home. It was a rather large piece of wood furniture about six feet long with speakers at each end with record player along with a stereo radio in the middle. Mom and dad’s favorite albums included Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Ed Ames, Sonny and Cher, Dionne Warwick, and anything by Burt Bacharach. I was soon to enter my teen years and I snuck in a few albums and forty fives. Simon and Garfunkel, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and of course, the Beatles, to name a few. How many times did I hear, “Turn that damn thing down!” Funny thing is that I liked some of my parent’s music, just like my kids today listen to some my favorite high school music.
One song that I really liked was written by Burt Bacharach and sung by Dionne Warwick, “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” I mean it was the sixties man and boy did the world need love! A few years leading up to the mid-sixties saw the Cuban missile crisis, our president assassinated, the Vietnam war escalation, racial tension. What was about to come in the next few years was more war, assassinations, race riots, rebellions and revolutions laced with LSD and LMNOP! The world appeared to be in a bad way heading down a worse path.
I remember playing Warwick’s song over and over thinking to myself how desperately the world needed love. As a kid I was so perplexed as to why there was such hatred and killing going on in the world. Why was Vietnam so worth the death of so many young soldiers? Why was the color of someone’s skin a basis for deep prejudice? How could any country annihilate another country with a nuclear bomb and think that was, OK? Why wouldn’t my dad allow me to have long hair!!
The interesting thing about Bacharach’s song is that it was a prayer to the “Lord.” Yeah. True. Check out the first two stanzas:
What the world needs now is love, sweet love It's the only thing that there's just too little of What the world needs now is love, sweet love No not just for some, but for everyone
Lord, we don't need another mountain There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb There are oceans and rivers enough to cross Enough to last 'til the end of time
Note who the song is written to as a prayer. It is a prayer to the “Lord” written to music. Even Burt Bacharach recognized that love is the only solution to the problems of the world, and it is God who is the ultimate source of healing love. Right? Bacharach was considered one of the most significant and important composers of the 20th century and had nearly 75 top 40 hits in the United States. As I am writing this, raindrops would keep falling on my head if I were to get up and walk outside right now (smile emoji).
Bacharach used to go to church. Actually, he used to go to synagogue coming from a Jewish family but stopped attending as he grew up. It is hard to know exactly what he believed about God but love and relationships were a central theme of much of his songwriting. Even he could capture the essence of life and what it is that God has always intended for mankind: to live is to love. Sweet love. The world has enough of everything else but just way too little of love. It is love that we need more than anything. It is timeless and true. And….And…not just for some but for who? For everyone! Every single human being that has lived, is living and will live needs the love of God. And not just for themselves but to share. That is the purpose of love: to share.
Only love extinguishes the fire of hatred, killing, racism and oppression. Governments can attempt to legislate everything and anything in a feeble attempt to make people behave rightly toward each other, but governments cannot legislate love. They fail at love. True love only comes from the Ruler of an unseen kingdom who can reach into every heart of every man, woman and child who thus may choose to open the door of their soul to the love of God.
It sounds so simple. I wonder if our modern Christianity has become almost too complicated for the world to receive. True Christianity is not complicated. What the world needs now is love. It does not need religion. It does not need four, five, ten or a hundred spiritual laws. It does not need a sin management program. It does not need guilt, shame, and condemnation as a ritualistic spiritual pathway to the good news. It does not need church membership. It does not need conservative Christian values forced on governments.
What it does need is love perpetuating love. It needs lovers of God as beggars leading other beggars to the bread of life. The world needs the Christ through whom all things were made and through whom all things hold together and through whom all men and women are saved. Saved from themselves and any wayward path which leads away from God and his love. What the world needs NOW is love, God’s love!