Jim James, Glen Hansard, Colin Meloy, Julien Baker, Valerie June, Andrew Bird, Grace Potter and many other artists performed a cover of Burt Bacharach’s “What the World Needs Now is Love” for the Newport Folk Festival live stream, Folk On Revival Weekend. Each artist recorded their piece of the song while remaining in quarantine, their images split on screen as each artist holds various instruments and sings together.
Colin Meloy, Hiss Golden Messenger, Julien Baker, Valerie June, Courtney Marie Andrews, Andrew Bird, Ruby Amanfu, Lucius, Jim James, Grace Potter, Yola, Chris Thile, Charlie Gabriel, Glen Hansard and The Lone Bellow all sang for the performance, while Ben Jaffe, Joe Lyle, Jenny Conlee, Kyle Craft, Resistance Revival Choir, Chris Funk, Saraswathi Jones and Luz Elena Mendoza contributed to the instrumentals. The screen alternates between each artist as they all sing the chorus, Jim James beginning with the first solo before quickly being joined by everyone else. Each artist sings at least one line by themselves, their voices soon harmonizing together. Whenever each artist is shown on screen, their voices layer slightly louder so they can be highlighted. The instrumental breakdown lends violins, saxophones, an upright bass, drums and more, each artist focusing entirely in their instrument and looking as if they exist in a separate realm.
The second half of the video has everyone repeating, “What the world needs now/ Is love, sweet love” alongside images of their families and expressing love to those who mean the most to them. They fall down to a near whisper, some singing to their dogs, others to their children. Each artist gives their own twist to the twos short lines, putting their all into the lyrics and spreading love to the world.
Burt Bacharach composed the music for “What the World Needs Now is Love” in 1965, with Hal David writing the lyrics. The song was first recorded by Jack DeShannon, who had also performed “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.”
The 2020 edition of the Newport Folk Festival was set for a large lineup, including Big Thief, Hawktail and Yola as headliners. As with almost every major event this year, the organizers decided to cancel the music festival amid coronavirus concerns. The Newport Folk Festival then announced the Folk On Revival Weekend, featuring Phoebe Bridgers, Brandi Carlile, Jim James and more in order to make up for the postponed festival.
Over quarantine, James has also been working on a new album along with his band My Morning Jacket, with James stating that they plan to release the new work when live shows are able to resume. Hansard also wrote during the quarantine, with his song “Cold Comfort” focusing on the current pandemic. Colin Meloy’s band, The Decemberists, had postponed their 20 year anniversary tour until next year due to the ongoing pandemic. Prior to Folk On Revival Weekend, Julien Baker participated in the Isol-Aid livestream where she debuted her new song “Mercy.” Prior to joining in on the performance of “What the World Needs Now is Love,” Grace Potter participated in a socially-distanced premier of the song “Eachother.” Lucius had also performed a song in isolation, joining Roger Waters as they played Pink Floyd’s “Two Suns in the Sunset.”
Photo credit: Kaylyn Oyer