The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 30

And so it comes to a close, with the final category:

A Song That Makes You Want to Be a Better Person.

Here are the staff picks:

Tara Seetharam: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Aretha Franklin

Maybe it’s the way the gospel arrangement evokes a guttural reaction or the way the lyrics are shamelessly selfless. As with the best songs, I can’t quite put my finger on why it moves me – but this song makes me want to live for others.

Kevin Coyne: “Hell Yeah” – Neil Diamond

This is how I want to look back on my life when it’s all said and done. I’m about halfway there.

Leeann Ward: “Man in Black” – Johnny Cash

This is a tough and weighty category for sure. “Man in Black” could just as easily fit the “worldview” category for me, but then, “What You Give Away” could fit this one too. Somehow, these lyrics, however, make me want to try harder to be better toward those around me: “I wear the black for those who’ve never read/ Or listened to the words that Jesus said/ About the road to happiness through love and charity/ Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me.”

Dan Milliken: “Square One” – Tom Petty

My worst vice is that I’m perpetually behind on several things at once. Not just long-term shoulds, like “I’ve been meaning to call my old pal Jan,” but short-term imperatives like “I need to start that paper that was due three weeks ago.” I’ve gotten away with play-first-and-maybe-work-later for most of my life, and while it’s made me less uptight and more understanding of others’ foibles, it also means I’m usually walking under an invisible raincloud of sorts. The burden of something unfinished – let alone several things – is like an awful condom on the fun you can actually experience, the care you can give to other people, the love or joy you can feel – everything good about living, basically.

I want to be Tom Petty in “Square One.” He’s fought his way through his respective “world of trouble” and finally come out clean. “My slate is clear,” he sings, in the sweetest Tom Petty tone ever; “Rest your head on me, my dear.” With his baggage cleared out, he can finally live fully in the present, taking full advantage of the people and experiences he’s blessed with.


  1. I have 2 that came to mind right away. One is “Green Pastures” by Emmylou! It gives me inspiration that there is something better to come when I pass on. The other is “Standing Knee Deep In A River (Dying Of Thirst) by Kathy Mattea. That song makes me not take my closest friends or family for granted and inspires me to have solid long lasting relationships.

  2. I think my choice would be the 1985 USA For Africa single “We Are The World”, simply because of the truth that we are all part of one very huge human race that, however, in the context of the universe, is really extremely small. Religion, politics, and ideologies can never change that fact. We need to really start caring about our fellow man and think of ourselves secondly.

  3. I can’t believe how quickly this 30 day song challenge has gone by and I’ve really enjoyed being part of it. Thank you all so much :D

    My choice for this final post is one of my favourite songs of all time: Brad Paisley’s “Letter to Me”. I realize that it’s a song that is personalized for Paisley’s own experiences, but the examples he gives in the song are constant reminders to me to be honest with myself, learn from my mistakes and celebrate my successes, not take my friends and family for granted and most importantly, to always have faith :)

  4. I love love love Square One, but the version from the Live Anthology is so much better then the studio one.

  5. Cancer survivor, country singer and motivational speaker Kevin Sharp’s “Measure of a Man”. The song was written by Larry Boone & Rick Bowles.

    It was the title track from his 1996 debut albun, but not a single. The chorus goes:

    It ain’t how far you go
    It ain’t how much you make
    Son, it’s what you give
    Not what you take
    It’s being strong and true
    To those counting on you
    It’s lendin’ a hand, makin’ a stand
    That’s the measure of a man

  6. ‘Pushin’ Up Daisies’ I’m at an age when that ‘little dash there in between’ makes you realise how little time we are truly given to make a difference.

  7. I can’t think of one right now other than “The Last Ones” by Matthew West. It’s about ‘special people.’ I was also reminded of this one because I saw a girl come to the Roughstock CMA Booth to meet an artist and used her chin to make a wheelchair and thought: Who’s really the disabled one, her or me?

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