I’ve been fortunate to have seen many things and done far more in life.  We all have talents, if we dare peer within.  Of the many attributes that I lay hold, I’m proud to say I’m a songwriter – a lyricist.  Life’s precious indeed, yet, how boring it would be without music.  Who doesn’t like a good tune anyway?

Although I can’t compose the music to a song, I am intrigued by all the facets that make up a great tune.  However, lyrics are an ever glow and a shooting star for me.  Although some songs are instrumentals, with no words, others have a tendency to have diminished meaning with their lyrics.  Lyrics are a staple for me, and we too often brush their meaning aside.

I care for many genres of music, Big Band, Country and Rock, but I really have a soft spot in my heart for the oldies.  I especially like a lot of the old Motown tunes and I was listening to a Temptations song the other day that got me thinking.

It was “Ball of Confusion – That’s What the World Is Today.”  The tune was a 1970 hit single for The Temptations.  It reached #3 on the American pop charts and #2 on the R&B charts.

Lyrically, the song attacked the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon’s government and drug addiction, making it one of the few protest records that came from Motown.

See if you recall the song and how it went.

“People moving out, people moving in.

Why? Because of the color of their skin.

Run, but you sure can’t hide.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Vote for me and I’ll set you free.

Rap on, brother, rap on.

Well, the only person talking about love thy brother is the preacher.

And it seems nobody’s interested in learning but the teacher.

Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration, aggravation, humiliation, obligation to my nation.

Ball of confusion.

Oh yeah, that’s what the world is today.

The sale of pills are at an all-time high.

Young folks walking round with their heads in the sky.

The cities a flame in the summertime.

And oh, the beat goes on.

Evolution, revolution, gun control, sound of soul.

Shooting rockets to the moon, kids growing up too soon.

Politicians say more taxes will solve everything.

And the band played on.

So, round and around we go.

Where the world’s headed, said nobody knows.

Oh, great Googamooga.

Can’t you hear me talking to you?

Just a ball of confusion.

Oh yeah, that’s what the world is today.

Fear in the air, tension everywhere.

Unemployment rising fast, the Beatles new record’s a gas.

And the only safe place to live is on an Indian reservation.

And the band played on.

Eve of destruction, tax deduction, city inspectors, bill collectors.

Mod clothes in demand, population out of hand, suicide, too many bills.

Hippies moving to the hills, people all over the world are shouting ‘End the war.’

And the band played on.

It’s a ball of confusion.

That’s what the world is today, hey, hey.

Let me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear ya.”

Certain segments of the population have had a long-standing tendency to vote for a certain political party and those habits do indeed entertain reciprocal thoughts, as illustrated in the aforementioned lyrical work.

I recall how President Obama “slow rapped’” the news with Jimmy Fallon not long ago.

“Rap on, brother, rap on.”  Was he really trying to say: “Vote for me and I’ll set you free.”

The Temptations had a hit on their hands back then, 45 years ago, but in retrospect things haven’t changed all that much.

“It seems nobody’s interested in learning but the teacher.”

“Young folks walking round with their heads in the sky.”

Cities like Baltimore and the suburbs of St. Louis are “a flame in the summertime.”

“Unemployment rising fast; Politicians say more taxes will solve everything.”

With every public shooting there’s “Evolution, revolution, gun control, sound of soul.”

“Fear in the air, tension everywhere.”

“And oh, the beat goes on.”

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at www.builderofthespirit.org. 

© Greg Allen ~ All Rights Reserved