Behind the Lyrics - Common and John Legend: "Glory"


(Photo Credit - Maarten de Boer/Getty Images)


In the news, social media, or even by word-of-mouth, it seems the same thing is being debated -- what is our identity as Americans?

As I am sure many of you know, this is a very complicated question. But, it is an important, essential question, not only for America, but for ourselves. That is what I want to discuss today -- identity.

Think back to when you were a teenager. It doesn't matter what era. Do you remember that fire? That rebellion against the society you were raised in? The world owes so much to teenagers and their fire. They are one of the reasons society pushes us forward, and the drive in them is the search to fully fulfill their identity.

Another thing about teenagers? They love music, and they being to form their own interests in music in comparison to their parents. It is awesome to see that the kids today (and us adults) have so much music to choose from and find others like us or learn about others who are different than us.

For example, Misao Mcgregor's "Blue Boi", Macklemore's "Same Love", Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise", and so many more. Music gives us an avenue to discover ourselves in the privacy of our own earbuds.

Today, I want to focus our analysis of identity on the song "Glory".

"Glory" -- Common and John Legend

"One day when the glory comes

It will be ours, it will be ours Oh one day when the war is won We will be sure, we will be sure Oh glory (Glory, glory) Oh (Glory, glory)

Hands to the Heavens, no man, no weapon Formed against, yes glory is destined Every day women and men become legends Sins that go against our skin become blessings The movement is a rhythm to us Freedom is like religion to us Justice is juxtapositionin' us Justice for all just ain't specific enough One son died, his spirit is revisitin' us Truant livin' livin' in us, resistance is us That's why Rosa sat on the bus That's why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up When it go down we woman and man up They say, "Stay down", and we stand up Shots, we on the ground, the camera panned up King pointed to the mountain top and we ran up

One day when the glory comes It will be ours, it will be ours Oh one day when the war is won We will be sure, we will be sure Oh glory (Glory, glory) Oh (Glory, glory)

Now the war is not over, victory isn't won And we'll fight on to the finish, then when it's all done We'll cry glory, oh glory (Glory, glory) Oh (Glory, glory) We'll cry glory, oh glory (Glory, glory) Oh (Glory, glory)

Selma's now for every man, woman and child Even Jesus got his crown in front of a crowd They marched with the torch, we gon' run with it now Never look back, we done gone hundreds of miles From dark roads he rose, to become a hero Facin' the league of justice, his power was the people Enemy is lethal, a king became regal Saw the face of Jim Crow under a bald eagle The biggest weapon is to stay peaceful We sing, our music is the cuts that we bleed through Somewhere in the dream we had an epiphany Now we right the wrongs in history No one can win the war individually It takes the wisdom of the elders and young people's energy Welcome to the story we call victory The comin' of the Lord, my eyes have seen the glory

One day when the glory comes It will be ours, it will be ours Oh one day when the war is won We will be sure, we will be sure Oh glory (Glory, glory) Oh (Glory, glory) Oh glory (Glory, glory) Hey (Glory, glory)

When the war is won, when it's all said and done We'll cry glory (Glory, glory) Oh (Glory, glory)"

One of the things I love about hip-hop/rap is that it is a flexible medium of music it is. It allows so much freedom with words, rhythm, etc. Also, it is rooted in African American history (much like Gospel, Blues, and Jazz). So, the distinct choice of using hip-hop/rap for a song discussing the Civil Rights movement is perfect.


Also, Christianity has been an important piece in the history of African Americans, so the inclusion of "glory" and "Even Jesus got his crown in front of a crowd" give more inclusion to the Black Identity in America.

All in all, what you have here is an excellent representation of the African American Identity. It is powerful. Noting the challenges, but the beauty of being Black as well. It shows the complexity of this identity, and that really resounds with people who know identity is not a simple answer, but it takes time and exploration.


So, next time you sit down to write or listen - think about what the song has to say about identity. You could really change some lives.

Until next time.

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