I had the chance to talk to Dr. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley last week before the co-hosts of the public radio show Smiley & West stump their new book, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, at the Neptune on April 24. We talked about music, politics, and their fight to make poverty a top priority in our public debate. At the end of the interview, I asked each of them which song they'd pick to be the last one they hear before they die. Neither of them said they wanted to hear a song.
Dr. West: I don't think I'd want to hear a song, actually. I'd want to hear a voice of a loved one.
Smiley: I was about to say: I'd want to hear my mama's voice. Hearing my mother's voice is like music to my ears. If my mamma could just say I love you, one more time that would be ... I love you, I'm proud of you, you know, I don't regret having you.
So many black men in this country--I think men, period, but certainly black men--have a unique relationship with their mother. Having their mother affirm who they are and what they are about and what their project is in life, having your mother's affirmation is like music to your ears.
I've never heard a song sweeter than my mother telling me I love you and I'm proud of you. That's the sweetest music I've ever heard.
I'll post the rest of our conversation later this week.