Perhaps the most moving song of all time? Tom Clay’s tribute song, What the World Needs Now / Abraham, Martin and John, were originally two songs; one released in 1965, the second in late 1968. Then Tom turned them into his touching medley.
Tom Clay was an American disc jockey. Back in the 1950s he was caught up in the Payola Scandal. Turns out DJ’s had been accepting huge pay outs from record companies in return for playing nominated records on their shows.
Scandal followed Tom (who BTW, was a friend of Marilyn Munroe!). He once interviewed The Beatles. From there he devised a scheme. He started the Beatles Booster Club. People could send in a dollar to join and would receive a membership card and a personal item used by one of the Beatles. The items were a crock! They turned out to be things like cigarette butts or used tissues.
But, good news for Tom, over 80,000 fans responded—a lot of money in those days—meaning he lived quite comfortably for some time on the cash. Which was just as well because, he was fired again!
tom’s claim to fame
Tom’s best remembered for his Motown single, What the World Needs Now Is Love/Abraham, Martin and John. It’s basically a series of interviews and speeches from Jack and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King emphasising tolerance and civil rights, placed over the top of two popular songs. The result is very moving—perhaps one of the most moving songs you’ll ever hear.
Tom had a #8 hit and sold over one million copies of the single.
no, they don’t play it much anymore
Despite owning a single version of this song, I haven’t heard it for a long time, but two things made me post it here this week. The first is that I heard Dionne Warwick’s version of What the World Needs Now on the radio the other day. Interestingly, when she was first offered this song, she turned it down. Jackie DeShannon recording it instead.
The second thing that drew me to this song was talking to a friend of mine who has just returned from Washington DC. He spoke of how moved he was by the various memorials he saw there; particularly the ones for Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln, and the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
what the world needs now / abraham, martin and john fax
- What the World Needs Now was written in 1965 by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. It’s been recorded and played live by over 100 artists including Dionne Warwick, Jackie DeShannon, The Staple Singers, Judy Garland, The Supremes, Cilla Black, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Luther Vandross, Rick Astley, Coldplay and Ronan Keating.
- What the World Needs Now has appeared in numerous movies including: Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, and Happy Gilmore.
- The song Abraham, Martin and John was written by Dick Holler and released in 1968 by Dion. It is a tribute to the memory of four assassinated Americans, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. BTW – Dick Holler also wrote the well-known song Snoopy vs the Red Baron!
- Abraham, Martin and John has also been recorded by: Andy Williams, (who was a close friend of Robert Kennedy), Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan, Bon Jovi, and Paul Weller. In 1970, Wilson Pickett, recorded a version of the song titled Cole, Cooke and Redding which paid tribute to deceased performers Nat “King” Cole, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding.
- Tom Clay’s version peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on August 14, 1971.
- Abraham, Martin and John lyrics.
what the world needs now / abraham, martin and john – tom clay – 1971 – video
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