Tuesday, December 15, 2009

#15 The Greatest Love of All

"I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way..."

Ok, so this song really really pissed me off when it came out. I guess if you know me, you can probably guess I was a bit of an uppity kid, and I was hyper-aware of being condescended to and generally treated like an imbecile in the way adults do because, for the most part they resent kids, and simultaneously begrudge them their freedom and innocence while placing all the responsibilities for the future of the world on their shoulders. Maybe it's the home I grew up in, or maybe it's growing up Jewish, or maybe it was just me with a severely underdeveloped denial mechanism, but I never envied adults. I saw (and I think I was right to see) that for the most part we kids had it way better, with other people taking care of our needs in ways they clearly found extremely stressful. I just didn't see, even at that age, the profit-margin in adulthood. Sure, they had more freedom of movement, but at what cost? For the most part such freedom came saddled with the kinds of responsibilities and worries that were written in 24pt font all over their sad, tired faces. Yeah, I resented the fact that adults got to vote and I didn't, especially because I didn't really see any evidence that their opinions were any more considered than mine were, but I was willing to accept that because otherwise, the system really kind of worked in our favor.

But then this song came out and it just literalized how goddamn condescending and disingenuous adults were. You know how old Whitney Houston was when she recorded The Greatest Love of All? 22 freaking years old. 22!

How about you be the future for a little while?! I thought to myself. How about you lead the way and let me be a freaking kid instead of trying to pawn off all your frigging problems on me?! OK?! How about that?

And, you know what? You're not allowed to not like The Greatest Love of All. We've all been to that party at the end of the night when the DJ plays it and everyone starts singing it in the worst possible drunk-screech like it's the most profound freakin thing and every time I hear it, every single time I hear it, I'm that kid again, thinking about how shallow, how cowardly and impotent and flat-out unfair the sentiment of that song is.

And that's just the first line!

"I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadow" What? When you were 12?

"They can't take away my dignity." No but you're doing a pretty good job of that yourself.

"Give them a sense of pride, to make it easier, Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be." You're 22! How about reminding yourself how you are right now! and get the frack out my face trying to recapture the youth that hasn't even gone away yet, no matter how much coke you shove up yourself. It's creepy and annoying. I've got my pride ok, pride comes from within, which is what the frigging song you're singing is ostensibly supposed to be ABOUT! so not only is it condescending but it's also internally illogical!

Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all. Now that might be the first honest thing you've said because if this frigging song demonstrates ANYTHING, it's that you completely and totally love yourself so much it isn't even funny.

Ok, so maybe I'm channeling a young and mixed up I'mNotBobby, but I mean, you know what I mean, right? It's wrong. It's just all wrong.


  1. I agree with your sentiments completely. However, when this song was belted out by Randy Watson (from the 'What's goin down?' episode of 'That's My Mamma) it took on a whole new meaning for me.

  2. That boy's good.

    Good and terrible.

  3. You know what other "end of the evening" song I can't stand? Imagine by John Lennon. Imagine all the trite, banal sentiment. People who find this song profound or touching or profoundly touching need to fuck themselves to death with a goddamn hand auger.

  4. While I kind of agree with you, I think "What a Wonderful World" is the ideal candidate for this unGrammy.