Never to walk in anyone’s shadows

What does that mean? Where does that come from? Well it is a lyric from a song that resonates very much with me. In the two weeks away cruising, we got used to seeing one, two or even three acts each day and there were a number of really good singers in particular. Being September, and not a school holiday period, the demographics of the passengers meant that there was an emphasis on older songs and the soul singers really delivered. I like most kinds of music and soul songs like Stand By Me, Tracks of My Tears and Reach Out (I’ll Be There) are just wonderful when sung well. But this lyric comes from a song written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed and originally recorded by George Benson for the 1977 Muhammad Ali biopic ‘The Greatest’. Later, the song was recorded by Whitney Houston. It appears on her 1985 debut eponymous album.

Linda Creed wrote the lyrics in the midst of her struggle with breast cancer. The words describe her feelings about coping with great challenges that one must face in life, being strong during those challenges whether you succeed or fail, and passing that strength on to children to carry with them into their adult lives. Furthermore, you have to learn to love yourself before you can deal with those challenges, and look forward rather than back, not dwelling on mistakes in the past (that probably no-one else even remembers). Creed eventually passed away in April 1986 at the age of 37; at the time her song was a massive international hit by Houston.

Last week, as the lead singer of Sol Play described this story in introducing the song, “The Greatest Love of All”, I could sense her voice breaking and I could hear the emotion. She was doing a set of songs by divas and then delivered a quite superb version. The full lyrics are here:

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

Everybody’s searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs
A lonely place to be
And so I learned to depend on me

[Chorus:]
I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

[Chorus]

And if, by chance, that special place
That you’ve been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love

Today was a walk during which I could not get this song out of my head and it was one of the most thoughtful walks I have ever done. I am not one to love a song simply because of its story and I did buy Whitney Houston at the time, the album that is. I have to say that I didn’t know the full story and it has pulled a string somewhere in my body. Walking has helped me to overcome some (non life-threatening) demons in my head myself and it has been so vital to have Pammy and Matt really support me. I know I have always been punching above my weight with my Pammy – she accepts my geekiness and social awkwardness and it is funny the way she often manages to drop the fact that I walked from Lands End to John O’Groats into conversations with complete strangers in order to bring me in………..

13 miles today. About as much as I ought to manage. A little bit of achiness lately and I’m not sure whether it is anything to get worried about. It felt chilly in the shade and, just for once, I was looking for the sunny side of the street when I could. On a side note, I really must change the ‘Home’ and ‘About’ sections of this blog – they relate to times very much in the past. I can see the posts and areas that blog readers view and note that a couple still accessed the just giving page from the very long walk – I can’t see who these readers are, by the way, and I think that is information that I don’t really need to know. Confidentiality is my game, after all.

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