40 Years, 40 Songs: Music Celebrating New Life

On January 23, 1973 - the day after Roe v. Wade was decided - a headline on the front page of The New York Times read: "Supreme Court Settles Abortion Issue." 40 years after that landmark decision, one thing is clear:

January 2013 cover of Time
America is anything but settled.

In fact, in May 2012, Gallup noted that self-identified "pro-choice" Americans were at a record low 41%. (Perhaps in response to these low numbers, Planned Parenthood recently launched a new campaign arguing that the "pro-choice" label "limits the conversation.")

If you follow this blog at all, you know that we're not politically minded - to paraphrase Thoreau, we read not the times, but the eternities. We write about the arts, philosophy, and theology - disciplines that deepen conversations and challenge assumptions, rather than simply reinforcing them in a closed circuit of supercilious claptrap.

That being said, my feeling is that we are at a critical inflection point in this national debate - one that political polls can only reflect darkly. But how can we really get at it and see it? You might look at the pro-life professions of atheists and feminists, the testimonies of abortion survivors, the annual upwelling of young protesters at the March for Life, or the growing philosophical and scientific evidence swaying former abortion supporters and providers. These are all places to start - and in many ways are the causes and effect of the tide - but the real prophetic voice in any culture, which taps into its spirit long before anyone else does, is the artist's. As existential psychoanalyst Rollo May put it, artists "speak and live from the subconscious and unconscious depths of their society."

For 40 years, artists have continued expressing awe and reverence for new life, gratitude to their mothers who chose to keep them, and sorrow over the loss of unborn children. These 40 songs - a sampling of those works - aren't pro-life/anti-abortion screeds set to music; nor are they abstract religious or philosophical arguments. But they are trailmarkers; they signal the experiential twisting and turning of a zeitgeist that never lost its respect and love for new life; that increasingly sees Roe in light of humanity's long, ugly history of robbing some group of human beings of their personhood; and that pursues a still more excellent way by upholding the value of each human life, including the weakest, smallest, and least wanted among us.

The fruit of love was in the future
Around the corner and over the hill
The act of love was slowly pounding...

You know I'll always help you baby
But I just can't do that

You looked at your angel again
You slowly put the phone back on its hinge...
You had no money, had no plan, barely had a call
But it was funny you didn’t worry about it all

Born of restless night the moon as a pearl
Playing games down inside your soft warm world
Hear my voice I know that you can
You're the fire in my eyes, the sun as a man
Little dandelion

Your mama said that you danced for her
Did you wiggle your hands for her?
Everything that I prayed for
God's gift, I wish I woulda prayed more...
Everybody go through stuff
Life is a gift, love, open it up

5. Ed Sheeran - Small Bump

Oh, you're just a small bump unknown, you'll grow into your skin
With a smile like hers and a dimple beneath your chin
Finger nails the size of a half grain of rice
And eyelids closed to be soon opened wide
A small bump, in four months you'll open your eyes

6. Elton John - Blessed

Hey you, you're a child in my head
You haven't walked yet
Your first words have yet to be said
But I swear you'll be blessed

7. Nicki Minaj - Autobiography

Please baby forgive me, mommy was young
Mommy was to busy tryna have fun now
I don't pat myself on the back for sending you back
Cause God knows I was better than that
To conceive then leave you, the concept alone seems evil
I'm trapped in my concience
I adhered to the nonsense listened to
People who told me I wasn't ready for you

8. Paul Simon - Born at the Right Time

Born at the instant the church bells chime
And the whole world whispering
Born at the right time

9. Eminem - Hailie's Song

I got my baby, the only lady that I adore Hailie
So sayonara, try tommorrow, nice to know ya
Our baby's traveled back to the arms of her rightful owner
And suddenly it seems like my shoulder blades have just shifted
It's like the greatest gift you can get, the weight has been lifted

10. Lauryn Hill - To Zion

I knew his life deserved a chance
But everybody told me to be smart
Look at your career they said
"Lauryn, baby use your head"
But instead I chose to use my heart

11. Wilco - My Darling

Because we made you, my darling
With the love in each of our hearts
We were a family, my darling
Right from the start

12. Arrested Development - Mama's Always on Stage

Brand new mama, I understand
It's hard as hell being a young mother and
You need support your conscious told you not to abort
So to your child you're a hero of some sort 

13. Cat Power - Sea of Love

Do you remember when we met
Thats the day I knew you were my pet
I want to tell you how much I love you
Come with me to the sea of love

14. DMC - Just Like Me

The girl gave birth to a baby boy
He's not a burden, he's a bundle of joy
She was just a young girl in her youth
And her parents tried real hard to hide the truth
Is there a chance for the baby to live?
That is a chance that you gotta give

15. Josh Garrels - Little Blue

My lover calls in fall and spring
She says keep your eyes on heron’s wings
She’s coming soon, let’s dance and sing
For the joy a new life brings

16. 2Pac - Letter 2 My Unborn Child

I'm writing you a letter
This is to my unborn child
Wanna let you know I love you
Love you, if you didn't know I feel this way
How I think about you every day

17. Mumford and Sons - Timshel

And you are the mother
The mother of your baby child
The one to whom you gave life
And you have your choices
And these are what make man great
His ladder to the stars

You are not alone in this

Yo we gotta start respectin life more y'all...
Must have really thought I was God to take the life of my son
I could have sacrificed going out
To think my homies who did it I used to joke about, from now on
I'ma use self control instead of birth control
Cause $315 ain't worth your soul

19. Oscar Peterson - A Child Is Born


20. Andrea Bocelli - Untitled Story

A young pregnant wife has been hospitalized for a simple attack of appendicitis. The doctors had to apply some ice on her stomach and when the treatments ended the doctors suggested that she abort the child. They told her it was the best solution because the baby would be born with some disability. But the young brave wife decided not to abort, and the child was born.

That woman was my mother, and I was the child.

But it's hard to make the right move when you in high school
Now you gotta work all day and take night school
Hopping on the bus and the rain is pouring
What you want morning sickness or the sickness of mourning?

Nothing should matter
Not when love grows inside you
The choice is yours
There's a miracle in store 

I wanna know what it's like to get up and realize
That you never once backed down
I wanna smile like you, cry like you, 
Die like you will
But not before I'm born

Classroom vigilantes, Darwinism reigns
Obsessed with blood and guts, glorify the pain
Kill that, we pro-life and we pro-longevity
Procreation provocative pro-prosperity

25. Babyface - The Day (That You Gave Me a Son)

It was late December the news came
And I got so excited, I cried all day 
And you were such a lovely, precious sight
When I saw our baby in your eyes

26. Kings of Leon - Knocked Up

I don't care what nobody says
We're gonna have a baby
Taking off in a Coup De Ville
She's buckled up on Navy

When she found out she was pregnant at 21
A second child wasn't planned
Parenthood wasnt the plan
It only took a couple seconds
to find a clinic to fix in a minute...
Then her head went clear
Decided not to, if she did I wouldn't be here

They call her name at 7:30
I pace around the parking lot
Then I walk down to buy her flowers...
Now she's feeling more alone
Then she ever has before
Shes a brick and I'm drowning slowly

29. Seals and Crofts - Unborn Child

Oh no momma, just let it be
You'll never regret it, just wait and see
Think of all the great ones who gave everything
That we might have life here

30. Tito "El Bambino" El PatrĂ³n - El Amor 

It's like a light that spreads to the soul
And flows like water until it fills the heart
And keeps growing & growing
As clouds in the sky
Going around the world
It's amazing, that's how love is
And finally I found it

31. Theory Hazit - Distorted Joy

I heard them talkin, but I couldn't understand it
Something about a physical psychological damage
Muscular disfigurements, disfigurations
I don't know but it all sounds crazy
Seems like I might not make it...

32. Joni Mitchell - The Beat of Black Wings

I put my hands on her belly
To feel the kid kickin - damn!
She'd been to some clinic
Oh the beat of black wings

So many problems, so many excuses
None good enough to neglect the youth
Let's get the job done or come up fruitless
It's not too late to correct it dude
A child brings joy and love into your life
And if you're ready to receive that you just might

34. The Verve Pipe - The Freshman

When I was young I knew everything
And she a punk who rarely ever took advice
Now I'm guilt-stricken sobbing with my head on the floor
Stopped a baby's breath and a shoe full of rice

35. Lil' Wayne - How to Love

See you had a lot of moments that didn’t last forever
Now you in this corner tryna put it together
How to love
See I just want you to know
That you deserve the best
You’re beautiful

Thanks for bearing our children, thanks for sharing your life
Thanks for saying, “Yes,” May, thanks for being my wife
To my daughters and all unborn and future seeds
I look at the world through your eyes and you always help me see

All he could think about was I'm to young for this
Got my whole life ahead
Hell I'm just a kid myself
How'm I gonna raise one?
A couple years of up all night and a few thousand diapers later
That mistake he thought he made covers up the refrigerator
Oh yeah...he loves that little girl

38. Pontifex - Innocent Victim

So blessed to be alive
I breathe, I exist
Many, so many won't get that same chance
To laugh to cry, to play and to dance

39. Carter Burwell - Pregnant


40. Live - Lightning Crashes

Lightning crashes, a new mother cries
This moment she's been waiting for
The angel opens her eyes
Pale blue colored iris
Presents the circle


  1. I love the range of emotions in this list. The Avett Brothers' "A Father's First Spring" expresses awe in such an amazing way is one of my favorites about new parenthood. I just found your site through an interview on Ignitum Today and am so looking forward to reading more! Consider me officially obsessed.

    1. Thanks Stephanie! Glad you enjoyed it, and we're happy to have you on board.

      I've actually been meaning to get into the Avett Brothers' music for a while now. I know they just came out with an album - is there a particular one you would recommend?

    2. Their new album, "The Once and Future Carpenter," articulates spiritual hunger and thoughts on life and death in a really beautiful, truthful way that's different to me from their past albums--I definitely recommend it, and "I and Love and You," "Emotionalism," and "Mignonette" are also really good!