While I was at the gym last night, I had my 90’s radio station playing in my headphones. One song played that was really a commencement speech over music. It was an interesting way to combine spoken word with music. While sampling quotes from speeches and movies is nothing new, here are a few songs that feature great speeches that are inspirational.
This is the song that came up on my 90’s playlist. Film director Baz Lurhman took this essay written by Mary Schmich and recorded it with Australian actor Lee Perry. Placed over the music from “Everybody’s Free (to Feel Good)”, this song gained international attention when it was released in 1999. I felt like a commencement speech for the decade. The speech offers many calls to action, including “enjoy the power and beauty of your youth”, “don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts”, “be careful whose advice you buy”, and most importantly, wear sunscreen.
Musician Will.I.Am from the hip-hop group the Black Eyed Peas took one the most influential campaign speeches in modern history and put it to music. While on the campaign trail in 2008, the soon-to-be president Barack Obama delivered his famous speech, “Yes We Can”, which went on to be his slogan. Will.I.Am teamed up with other artists to sing along with the speech, which went viral that same year.
Gill-Scott Heron released his poetic speech to a drumbeat, “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” in 1971. The poem rose to fame during the black power movement in the United States. But this also caused backlash, with many of Heron’s albums being removed from store shelves. The song did become popular in pop culture, being featured in other songs and films.
Martin Luther King’s words can be found in many works of art. His speeches have been sampled in various music genres. One of the more well known samplings from his, “I Have A Dream” speech is in rapper Common’s song, “A Dream”. The song echoes Dr. King’s hope for equality and peace, some 40 years later.
There are many other different types of art that incorporate speeches, and plenty of other songs that are known for including entire or sections of speeches. It’s an interesting and entertaining way to listen to a public speaker. And it can be a spark of inspiration if you are looking for it for your next presentation. You don’t have to base your speech around a song, but there are many way you can include music in your presentation.
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