It's been a brutal season in the news, with verdicts absolving the police officers involved with the untimely deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Various members from the music community have taken to their social media accounts to voice their frustrations, rage, sorrow and grief, from Killer Mike to T.I. to Azealia Banks and Legend himself. Back in August, Legend played the Hollywood Bowl to pay tribute to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, a move that not only showcased his musical kinship with the Motown icon but a political, socially aware gesture that furthered the strong message of the pivotal album with a 2014 framework. Clearly, music isn't just about hitting the pretty notes and writing love songs for Legend, and "Glory" takes that a step further.
On the track, Legend and Common are joined by the heavenly refrain of a gospel choir and the swelling strings of an orchestra. The chorus is just as moving as that of a spiritual, and that's kind of the point: "One day, when the glory comes / It will be ours, it will be ours / One day, when the war is won / We will be sure, we will be sure." Common bridges the civil rights struggle between 1955 and 2014 with a single, stark verse: "That's why Rosa sat on the bus / That's why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up / When they go down, we woman and man up / They say 'Stay down!' and we stand up."
As Selma follows the voting rights marches of 1965, "Glory" is fitting pick, one that proves, sadly, how little things have changed between the film's plot lines and today's headlines.
Listen to "Glory" below, and be sure to check out Selma in theaters December 25.