I fell in love with Fred Small’s beautiful lullaby, “Everything Possible,” when I first heard it on The Flirtations maiden album in 1990. Chills still run down my spine whenever I hear it sung by Heartland Men’s Chorus.
“Everything Possible” is a parent’s song of unconditional love and affirmation, and of unlimited possibilities for living a genuine and authentic life. The parent’s offer, in the opening verse, to “sing you a song no one sang to me,” makes me wonder how different my growing up, and my life, would have been if my parents had sung a similar song to me. Tears well up in my eyes when the lullaby affirms:
You can be anybody you want to be,
You can love whomever you will.
You can travel any country where your heart leads
And know that I will love you still.
I grew up in a fairly conservative, white, Protestant, rural community. Conformity to social norms was strictly enforced at school, at church, and at home. If you wanted the friendship and respect of your peers, and if you wanted to succeed in school and in life, you had to look and behave just like everyone else. Nonconformists were taunted as “sissies” or “tomboys” or “queers”, and no one could be friends with someone like that. In response, the song counsels:
Don’t be rattled by taunts, by games,
But seek out spirits true.
If you give your friends the best part of yourself,
They’ll give the same back to you.
If only that could have been true, both for me and for untold numbers of LGBT youth who learned to hide and deny our true selves in order to conform. It is unfathomable how much energy is wasted by trying to conform and “pass”’; unimaginable how many young gay lives have been lost to teen suicide or maimed by bullying and harassment.
The ultimate moral of the lullaby is grounded in love. After opening the world of possibilities and encouraging the listener to pursue their dreams and to be true to their authentic selves, the song exhorts:
And the only measure of your words and your deeds
Will be the love you leave behind when you’re done.
My late partner, Steve Metzler, and I loved the powerful message of this song so much that I asked Heartland Men’s Chorus to sing it at his funeral. So many of our friends came up later to ask about “that song,” and how moved they were by it. This song embodies the HMC vision: “Our voices enlighten, inspire, heal and empower.”