One - U2

U2’s One is a song that has been assumed to mean many things. Some say it is a song about being rejected by the church, some say it is about a man coming out to his father, and others view it as a song about the entire world coming together. Whatever you take the meaning to be, U2’s One is in a class of its own. Few songs can plumb the depths of religious imagery with such vivid accuracy, and do it without coming across as over the top. While the song is full of righteous anger, the underlying sympathy and sweetness makes it into the powerful listen that it has come to be. Outside of its content, the song is credited with keeping the band together during a period of creative stagnation. The band knew how special the song would be when it first came together, and they haven’t ever looked back from that.

-S. Russ

Man in the Mirror - Michael Jackson

Every time I listen to this song I feel like I can change the world. Anyone can resonate with this song because as individuals, if we all look within and change for the best, we can ultimately change the world. I’ve learned that change must begin from within. If we’re able to truly be happy with ourselves then we can impact the lives around us because we will be at our fullest. When we honestly examine our own lives and self, we can understand what it means to help change the world. This song inspires me to believe in the world and the change that it is capable of attaining. Who wouldn’t want to live in a better more fulfilling world? We are all in this journey together and should want the best for each other and our home. I’ve learned that life has its ups and downs but in order to get through life we need each other, so we should make it a priority to reach out and make a difference. If we can inspire someone else to look themselves in the mirror, then we can evoke the best in everyone and be in a happier world.

Man in the Mirror speaks about the truth behind all of the violence and hatred in the world. Humans wage wars against each other every day and no matter if it’s based off revenge, mental issues, politics, religion or poor decisions we as individuals can make peace. Time has proven that no one can ever win the war because once won war is resolved another is spawned. If all of the individuals in the world would commit to change and change the person they see in the mirror, then the world would be saved. We are the problem and resolution to all issues in the world. The only thing that we can do is help others realize this truth and hope that they can accept and pass on the message.

-A. Guzman

We Are the Champions - Queen

If you have ever watched a sporting event then you have heard “We Are the Champions” in its intended environment. While the song was written for anyone to feel like a champion, Freddie Mercury has stated that he was actually thinking about sports when he wrote it. He wanted something for fans to relate to, and they have ever since its debut in 1977. With its operatic nature and infectious chorus the song became more than just a sports anthem, allowing millions all over the world to boldly claim that they are the champion!

-S. Russ

Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler

“Wind Beneath My Wings” was originally recorded by country singer Gary Morris in 1983 and was recorded again by Bette Midler for the 1990 movie Beaches. “Did I ever tell you you're my hero? You're everything, everything I wish I could be. Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle, 'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.” It’s hard not to feel the emotions drenched in these words. One of the writers of the song, Jeff Silbar, talked about how the impact of “Wind Beneath My Wings” has on people, even years later. “The most rewarding thing for me is to hear people, when they find out I wrote the song, tell me what the song has meant to them. They would tell me how they performed the song at an important event in their lives, such as their wedding, their father’s funeral, or a graduation ceremony. It is a tremendous feeling to know that I had a part in creating such a special song,” he said in an interview with Songwriter Universe.

-C. Gatti

Imagine - John Lennon

“Imagine there’s no heaven…” – it’s one of the most easily recognizable refrains in music history. Released in the rock and roll heyday of 1970’s, the song became a voice of hope for an entire generation. While others have tried, after this song there was no reason for anyone to write a tune about world peace ever again. John Lennon said all that needed to be said and more. Despite an amazing career with the Beatles, this song became his legacy in music. It would take one mighty powerful song to do that, and “Imagine” is it.

-S. Russ

Greatest Love of All - Whitney Houston

"The Greatest Love of All” is considered one of Whitney Houston’s most popular songs. I’ve heard it possibly hundreds of times, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood what it really meant. By my 30s I was finally starting to realize what Ralph Waldo Emerson meant when he said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” I spent so much of my 20s thinking happiness was somewhere else – hidden somewhere with the perfect job and a handsome boyfriend. A lot of searching, trying and failing finally clued me in to the fact that the thing I wanted most was something only I could give myself… and that’s what “The Greatest Love of All” is about. The chorus says, “The greatest love of all is easy to achieve / Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all.” I remember hearing the song when Houston tragically died. It was bittersweet, because it made me wonder if she remembered the words to her own song… especially the last verse: “And if, by chance, that special place that you've been dreaming of / Leads you to a lonely place, find your strength in love.” It’s a reminder to us all to never lose sight that the world will never make us happy. That job is up to us.

-J. Jones

You Raise Me Up - Josh Groban

"You Raise Me Up" has been recorded by at least 125 artists. Josh Groban’s version hit < on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart. It reached * in Great Britain as part of a tribute to soccer legend George Best, sung by Brian Kennedy. Groban performed it at Super Bowl XXXVIII, in a commemoration for the Space Shuttle Columbia crew and for Oprah Winfrey's 50th birthday. The group Secret Garden performed it twice at the Nobel Peace Prizes. It is a regular on such competitions as “The X Factor” and “American Idol” – and is said to be one of judge Simon Cowell’s favorites.

-R. Kerby

What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong

Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Judy Garland

The dream to see beyond where you are right now to someplace better is in the heart of everyone. So no matter what stage of life you were in when you first saw The Wizard of Oz, it wasn’t difficult to imagine life in her pig tails and prairie dress. She was stuck in black and white but yearned for a world full of color. That’s where we first find “Over the Rainbow”. The song comes near the beginning of the film as a young Dorothy is pondering a place where she won’t get into trouble as she can’t seem to escape it in her tiny Kansas town. What follows is one of the most popular songs of all time winning the Academy Award and the hearts of fans for generations. You want to dream along with Dorothy when she leans against a haystack and sweetly sings, “Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue / And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” The second verse is what really gets me. She plans to make a wish and be far away in a place where “troubles melt like lemon drops.” I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t daydreamed of such a sense of peace and joy. At the end of the song, she makes it all sound simple. “If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow / Why, oh, why can't I?” It’s something so intangible, but completely within her view. I know how that feels, and I bet you do too. May we never lose that sense of wonder to look beyond what we can see and hope for something better.

-J. Jones

Lean On Me - Bill Withers

As one of only nine songs to become a number 1 hit for two different artists, there’s something about “Lean On Me” that just stands out. Bill Withers’ penned the song in 1972, following a move to Los Angeles that left him missing the community-driven life that he left in his coalmining town in West Virginia. His ache for togetherness led him to craft one of the most simple and poignant songs about friendship to ever exist.

What “Lean On Me” does is speak to the human condition in a way that few songs can. Musically it is unassuming, subtle, and has a great groove, allowing the power of the lyrics to nearly slip by. Indeed, the song didn’t even truly hit me until I heard it during an interfaith worship service. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and more had gathered, and this song was picked for worship as one that everyone could relate to. As I saw all of these different people coming together in support of one another, the power of the song overtook me and left a mark on my life from that point forward.

-S. Russ

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