Monday, May 21, 2012

You Gotta Be by Des’ree

As graduation season comes into full swing people start thinking about songs to address this transition in life. Often people think about “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) by Green Day or “Seasons Of Love” from the musical rent (which my 8th graders are singing for their graduation).

One of my favorite “advice” songs is Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be,” a beautiful song full of love and encouragement from 1994.



This is Des’ree’s most popular song. Other notable recordings she made include “Kissing You,” the love song from Baz Luhrman’s Romeo And Juliet.



The phrase “you gotta be,” seems to have a sense of urgency, but Des’ree sings it with such calm that its meaning changes. Usually this phrase is followed with an or statement, like “you gotta study for the test or you will fail.” So what is the consequence if you aren’t all these things?

Des’ree never says it straight out but what you begin to realize when listening to this song is that she is saying that you gotta take an active role in your life or else you will miss out on what life’s all about.

Des’ree sings about opening your eyes to the world, thinking about your parents and not getting bothered by other people’s lives. She talks about being “bad,” which goes beyond the 1980s slang to another meaning. This is more about speaking truth to power and being a little mischievous to accomplish great things in life.

While she encourages us to be strong, she also sings about embracing the pain in life and working through fears. It’s a viewpoint that accepts the dynamics of who we are but doesn’t accept the idea that we can’t do anything to change our position in life.

Des’ree sings this song with confidence and power. She’s not aggressive in her strength but rather cool and calm. Through her rich and soulful voice you believe that she truly is everything that she is singing about.

Songs that give this kind of message don’t seem to come around very often, but we need them so badly. Des’ree represents the best of what pop music can say to a wide audience. Yes, songs that have controversial lyrics get a lot of attention but it’s the ones that truly have soul and a life-affirming message that stay with us.  Des’ree reminds us of the great potential in pop music and what we should strive for every day in our lives.

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