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Mary's Musings: What the World Needs Now is Love

By Mary Bridges, chaplain

Salina Presbyterian Manor

Just what is love?  Several years ago, there was a famous Peanuts cartoon in which Shroeder, a piano-loving intellectual, was interrupted as he often was by his infatuated admirer, Lucy. Lucy asked Shroeder, “Shroeder, do you know what love is?” Shroeder abruptly stopped playing, stood to his feet and said, “Love: noun, to be fond of, a strong affection for or an attachment or devotion to a person or persons.” Then he sat back down and resumed playing his piano. Lucy sat there stunned and then murmured sarcastically, “On paper, he’s great.”

Everyone associates February with love. Valentine’s Day gives us an opportunity to remind others that we love them. February is a special month for me. I met my husband, Kenny, 60 years ago on February 15, 1958, at the Valentine’s dance at Russell High School. I was 15 and he was 19.  My family was sure it would not last, but here we are, still dancing together. One of my favorite songs is “What the World Needs Now.”

What the world needs now is love, sweet love,

It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love,

No not just for some but for everyone.

Hal David wrote the lyrics and Burt Bacharach composed the music to this song, which was released on April 15, 1965.

Hal tells how this song came about:

“I was living in Roslyn, New York, on the north shore of Long Island, which is where my children were raised. I would drive into Manhattan every day to meet Burt at the Brill Building in Famous Music’s offices on the sixth floor, where we did our writing. Mine was a rock and roll house where each of my kids had a band that practiced there. It was hard for me to find somewhere quiet to work, so I would drive into town slowly, which would give me the opportunity to think and get ideas. I would write in my head during the ride.

“One day, I thought of the first two lines of this song:  What the world needs now is love, sweet love.  It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.  Before I got to Manhattan, I had the rest of the chorus set the way it is today. Then I needed the verse section.

“It took more time to write these lyrics than any other. I realized that I needed to write the opposite — what we didn’t need. One day on the ride to New York, it came to me.  ‘Lord, we don’t need another mountain, There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb, There are oceans and rivers enough to cross, Enough to last till the end of time.’

“I knew that was it. I wrote about all of the things that had to do with nature and what God gives us. I gave the lyrics to Burt and he wrote a fabulous melody.

“My prayer for all of you this February is that you will cherish the love you receive and then you will pass that love on because just as in 1965, ‘What the world needs now is love, sweet love.’”

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