“All People” by Michael Franti & Spearhead

34. Song No. 202: “All People,” Michael Franti & Spearhead (feat. Gina René)
All People, 2013

This song sounds like a party I actually want to attend, but that’s not why I love it.

In the earliest years of our relationship, my husband and I discovered Michael Franti by way of the show Weeds, smitten as we were with the show’s use of “Ganja Babe.” (And I was delighted to stumble upon music we both actively and equally enjoyed for once.) We snatched up a bunch of his albums, and the trifecta of Everyone Deserves Music, Yell Fire! and All Rebel Rockers dominated the soundtrack to our relationship through the beginning of our marriage, leading us from an intimate New York City venue to a mountain retreat in the Catskills, from Philly to Virginia to catch the infectious, earnest positivity and post-show hugs that make Franti’s shows one of the objectively greatest live-music experiences every single time. “In the Light” was our entrance song at our wedding.

Hubs and I have admittedly always erred on the side of cynicism, and it’s definitely ebbed a little less and flowed a little more over the years, inching its way to claiming more and more internal real estate all the time. It’s a steady advance that’s hard to beat back when it feels like things aren’t in a hurry to get better. Aggressive optimism isn’t as easy to swallow as it used to me. When All People came out in 2013, we had no idea what kind of shitstorms were forging a path to the awesome destruction of 2020. But it wasn’t the balm our cranky souls needed like its well-timed predecessors were, so it didn’t command our attention as they had.

Spotify has been wriggling its way into my life more and more as working from home means I don’t have to worry about bothering my unsuspecting coworkers with music they’d probably hate (and hubs works in a different part of the house where his movies, work videos and conference calls drown own my daily tunes anyway–though he has deigned to admit to liking more and more of my music lately, so). That paired with recreating a bunch of long-ago Summer Burns, mixed CDs’ track listings and other resurrected playlists in an exclusively, easily shared digital format has me rediscovering a lot of stuff I used to love, play incessantly and share with whoever I could–and a lot of my favorite Franti tunes were among those lovingly dusted-off musical treasures.

This titular track popped up in the alphabetical rotation at the absolutely perfect time. I was already deep in reliving all the things I absolutely love about Michael Franti: the kindness he effuses, his seemingly indefatigable and infinite capacity for being that voice shouting positivity and affirmations among the demoralizing din, how he is a tireless advocate for hope in an increaisngly hopeless world.

“All People” is more of that inclusive reminder that even our worst enemies love and that everyone deserves music. It’s celebratory, energetic and so very optimistic–which is to say it’s exactly what I needed when I’ve been bitterly wondering what the point of trying to save the world. Knowing that people like Michael Franti are out there being the changes we need is some mighty good motivation to not lose heart because there is goodness worth protecting and fighting for even in this, the shittiest of all timelines.

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