Where my own hope comes from

A copy of The Way I Was, the autobiography of composer Marvin Hamlisch, recently found its way into my possession. In the last chapter, I discovered that Marvin Hamlisch's work outside movie scores and Broadway included the kind of song I think we all need to hear during this time - primarily because this song has been my own beacon of hope during the lockdown.

Soon after Hamlisch married Terre Blair in 1989, the following happened. We'll let Marvin describe the events:

Terre and I are having breakfast. I'm having carrot juice, oat bran cereal, bran muffins, followed by a daily dose of vitamins served up with a large class of Evian water. (Where's a good deli when you need it?)
Terre is reading the newspaper. She seems to be taken by something and looks up at me with her girlish grin. 
"I know what the world needs," she says.
"I see," I say.
She tells me she's serious. "It's what 'Anatomy of Peace' was all about. It all fits together," she says. She tells me it's in these articles every day. "Look at the Berlin Wall. Look at the collapse of communism. We're actually on our way to becoming a global community." I look at her.
"We need a new kind of song."

"We need an anthem for everyone."
For a moment, I didn't get it, but then, slowly, the idea started growing on me. I liked it. But I couldn't help wondering how any lyricist would react to a phone call from me asking, "Hi, wanna write an anthem today?" Of course, two years ago, I would have never even thought of writing a symphony, so the idea of writing an anthem wasn't as farfetched as it sounded. I called Alan and Marilyn Bergman in Los Angeles. If anyone would understand, they would.
"We'll get back to you," they said. I guess I hadn't set them on fire. But sure enough, two weeks later, they sent me two verses. And the opening line: "If we all sing one song." We started faxing each other, exchanging cassettes, and running up the FedEx bill. From the start, I saw this as a chance to take the message of 'Anatomy of Peace' and extend it vocally into a popular song. The major hurdle to writing an anthem for today is to keep it from sounding overblown, funereal, and predictably old-fashioned. I wanted an anthem that was contemporary and spoke to the times we live in. I wanted to capture the new spirit that came with the end of the Cold War and the triumph of democracy - I had learned from Leonard Bernstein that music must reach out to the political issues of our times. I think I am correct in saying that he felt that any composer who failed to do this was not living up to the true spirit of the gift they had been given. I kept thinking about the lyric from the Bergmans, particularly the line, "Imagine what tomorrow would bring / if we all sing / one song." And that was exactly the challenge. A child in Nigeria should be able to feel the music as their own as much as a child in Tokyo, Moscow, or Prague. 
I actually saw this come true. In 1990, "One Song" had its premiere at Carnegie Hall with Barbara Cook as soloist accompanied by the United Nations Children's Chorus, dressed in their native garb, representing more than 52 of the nations of the world. The following day, the Bergmans called. They had heard how well our song had gone over. 
"Marvin, we've got to take this further. I think this is for Quincy Jones."
We knew how committed he was to world unity. If he wasn't interested, he would tell us right away. If he wasn't, he wouldn't lie about it. That much is sure about Quincy. I sent him a tape. About two weeks later, he called me: "Marvin, this is the right song for the right time. But you have to be patient. 'One Song' needs international exposure. And I've just got to find the right venue, which could take some time. Don't worry, I won't let you down."
And Quincy, bless him, came through. He brought "One Song" to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. It was heard by over one billion people.

As a lover of any song calling for world unity, I looked up "One Song" and it was better than I thought it would be. This was in early February. But it was not until March, and the beginning of the lockdown, did I find in "One Song" the hope I needed to feel during this seemingly hopeless time. I realized that perfect strangers were bonding together in kindness in a way that I had never seen because of the collective tribulation of the coronavirus lockdown. I also realized that this kindness would carry beyond the lockdown - and once again bring us closer to being a global community. Perhaps even closer than in 1991.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I believe the light at the end of the tunnel is even brighter than simple relief.

This is why:
Imagine what the world will be like when the lockdown is over...if we all sing one song.

CLOSING QUESTION (Leave your answers in the comments)

Has there been a single work of media in particular that makes you hopeful during this time?

The most important part of reading 
The Corona Light is to pay it forward - by literally forwarding! Let's bring inspiration, hope, and empowerment to as many people as we can!