I saw Hairspray the other day. I have to admit it was fun. Really fun. Fun to the point that I went and bought the soundtrack for my good friend Katie. Of course, she did the same for me (we saw the film together), so we have been singing our brains out for the past week. And we have had so much fun doing it.
From the first Oh-oh-ohs to the final dance moves, it is a thrilling ride through ever 1962 cliche.
Almost all of the songs are fantastically entertaining and downright show-song bliss. One song, however, is tremendous in another way.
The movie, which has a major theme of integration woven throughout comes to a halt as Queen Latifah begins to sing the beautiful “I know where I’ve been..” To read the lyrics, click here (and trust me, you should---IN FACT, buy the song on itunes).
In the song, she talks about the progress the civil rights movement is just beginning to make, but reminds the listener not to forget to where we’ve been.
This song makes me cry. Every time. The movements that I am involved with parallel the sentiments which are sung about in the song to the point that I can’t help but feel that I could just as easily be singing those words.
The thing is, it’s not the lyrics about the struggle that get me. I have seen that, lived it in some way.
Instead, it is the very end in which they exclaim “to sit still will be a sin.” I couldn’t agree more. When do we stop sitting still, and start creating change? When do we say enough? And when do we stop accepting the “I didn’t realize” as an excuse?
And finally, the song ends in a joyful praise:
Oh! When we win,
I'll give thanks to my God
'Cause i know where I've been
How could you say it better? When it’s over and we have changed for the better, we give thanks to God--not just for bringing us to this point, but for helping us know where we’ve been.