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Straight From the Nineties: An Anthem for the Times

I wasn’t looking for a pandemic anthem but a couple weeks ago the perfect song auditioned unsolicited. What I heard in it was a rallying cry and what I felt in it was the power to unite.

“What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes—it might just be our anthem for the times.

It was already a favorite, but this filter we’re now experiencing life through reveals new depths in the familiar.

So here’s my take on the lyrics so many of us love and why I’m nominating “What’s Up?” for our pandemic anthem:

  1. The song’s figurative journey, “up that great big hill of hope for a destination,”1 represents our own. Because right now it feels like we’re all trying to climb an imposing mountain, searching for hope along the way.
  1. The lyrics mirror our current emotional extremes:
    • “I cry sometimes when I’m lying in bed just to get it all out what’s in my head.”1 Sounds familiar . . .
    • “I scream from the top of my lungs, ‘what’s going on?’”1 (Anger’s been on my emotional playlist, too.)
  1. The lyrics also empathize with our daily acts:
    • “I try all the time, in this institution.”1 Every day we’re trying to make our efforts be enough in this framework of life.
    • “I pray every single day for a revolution.”1 Prayer for help now and guidance later, so that the wisdom this experience has given us will intentionally shape a redesigned normal.

But there’s one last thing—within the song there’s a realization that “the world was made up of this brotherhood of man.”1 And this unification is huge for any anthem.

Because as we’re climbing this “great big hill,” we’re not alone. As we pause to rest, we feel God’s presence and see this human network surrounding us. Our brotherhood—the same people at the heart of the positive stories we’re hearing.

So let’s remember who we’re climbing with and what it means to be part of this connection of souls, whether we’re in the midst of a pandemic or not.

Now, I know you’re ready to go rock out to 4 Non Blondes, so I’ll end it here. Enjoy your five minutes of musical bliss before heading back to the climb . . .

Have your own pick for an anthem? Share it below!


1“What’s Up? Lyrics.” Lyrics.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 15Apr2020. https://www.lyrics.com/lyric/316834/4+Non+Blondes/What%27s+Up%3F

1“What’s Up?” lyrics written by Linda Perry.