Here’s an Occupy Wall St. themed song for you. Not that I’m camping out anywhere, this song just hits me hard every time I hear it. It’s “The World is a Ghetto” by funk-latin-jazz band WAR. Surprisingly, their album by the same name was the best selling album of 1973. Can you imagine such a song topping the charts nowadays? The chorus goes “Don’t you know, that it’s true, that for me, and for you, the world is a ghetto.” 1973 was the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of OPEC induced stagflation so I guess the time was right for this album to hit number.
Although most people haven’t heard of WAR, their top hits, “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” (Homer’s entrance song in that episode where he had to fight that Mike Tyson character) and “Low Rider” should be instantly recognizable.
A bonus is that this song has become kind of a semi-Jazz standard. There are numerous renditions of the song, which are classics in their own right and perhaps even rival the original. The best of them is the version done by the great jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal. In the original, even before the lyrics begin, musically you should have already taken the proper cues and prepared yourself for a somber affair. Following the lyrics have an inevitable, fatalistic ring to it.
In the Ahmad Jamal, the composition starts off with a few light key strokes and an upbeat bass groove. By the time you get to the middle of the song, your emotion is more of “The World is a Ghetto?” with a women whispering over the breakdown “Its a Ghetto.”
The other significant version of the song is the version by jazz guitarist George Benson. The tempo is almost house-y, so the feeling it evokes differs greatly from the first two, but it also has its own character. You can find the two covers on youtube fairly easy. It definitely won’t be a waste of time. “The World is a Ghetto.”