Charles Q. Sullivan
Op Ed

‘We Need More’

A remarkable song’s lyrics capture something powerful about America and how we might move forward.

By - Mar 4th, 2022 12:43 pm
A woman holds a sign honoring George Floyd. Photo by Maddy Day.

A woman holds a sign honoring George Floyd. Photo by Maddy Day.

Whether you are a fan of the American Idol auditions or not, last Sunday’s 20th season opening show had at least one performance that merits everyone’s attention.

Coming on the eve of the last day of the month of February, which has become labeled “Black History Month,” this explicit meditation could well be an anthem to the end of that designation, in favor of inclusive support of all members of our society throughout the year.

What the performance does hammer home is the absolute need for all who call themselves “Americans” to actively and passionately pick up the cry of its refrain: “We want more!” As many of our leaders endeavor – some openly, some covertly – to take our democracy away from all but the wealthiest and most powerful, the rest of us must leave our denial behind. Bills currently proposed within our own State of Wisconsin represent some of the most egregious examples. Others abound at the federal level, and across the nation.

Hope and optimism does nothing without participation. The aspirational nature of the founding of our country will not be realized over time if any of our citizens are denied the right to participate, and the basic guarantees of safety, security, and the possibility of advancement. That right must extend across all lines of race, ethnicity, color, gender, education, economic status, and sexual or political identity.

But the right and ability to participate means nothing if it isn’t exercised.

As is so often the case, the Arts lead the way in calling out these shortcomings, by moving beyond intellectual arguments. On last Sunday’s American Idol audition broadcast, 26-year-old Taylor Fagins performed the poetry that he had written just three days after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, to music of his own creation. Perhaps coincidentally, the length of his appearance on that show is almost exactly the time span that it took for Floyd to die – just under nine minutes.

Watching that actual performance, and hearing his words for the first time, is a worthwhile and necessary investment in our collective future. The link to the video is given below, as well as a link to the actual lyrics for further reflection. (A link to a shorter studio version is also listed below.)

If nothing else, the piece offers a mantra that deserves and needs to be heard – not in distorted reference to the power grabs and greed of many of our leaders, but for the very future of our Democracy:  “We need more! We want more!”

Charles Q. Sullivan, former Executive & Artistic Director at Early Music Now.

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