The official music video of a live studio session for British singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer Michael Kiwanuka’s “Cold Little Heart” has persistently appeared in my YouTube feed, and today I finally gave in and watched it. Wow. It’s stunning.
The video begins with a compelling introduction that goes on for six-and-a-half minutes after a studio staffer makes and serves hot beverages for three band members, who gratefully acknowledge him. The first few minutes of the piece seem to me at times to be influenced by the British psychedelic band Pink Floyd.
As an aside, I remember about 20 years ago, my sweety and I were helping a friend who was catering a large event held for church leaders and other high-ranking helping professionals. We were acting as servers, carrying trays of appetizers through what turned out to be quite a ravenous crowd. On the drive home that night, I remember Sweety and I were discussing how invisible and small we felt offering this delicious food to people; they took from our smilingly-carried platters, wordlessly, with not even a glance our way. Even people we knew and who knew us. (I think we mused at one point that maybe we should have sat in a corner with a tray to ourselves and tucked into it!)
While I’ve always appreciated those who serve, I made a further commitment that night always to make eye contact with the person helping me and say something kind to them. That’s something I noticed my late dad did, and he inspired me to be more like that. I don’t always do it, but I keep working on it.
Anyway, I digress.
I found the introduction to the song inviting (I think in part thanks to the server) and quite spellbinding. The keyboardist leads the way for quite a while (and it almost seems like the music is coming straight from his fingers), then he mixes with Kiwanuka’s lead guitar and the heavenly sounds of the backup singers as the intro builds, subtly transitioning into the main part of the song, with natural, heavenly light absolutely streaming in at about 6:00 in that in-between time.
I feel Kiwanuka’s song is a commentary on our present-day society in which the allure of and search for individualism has eroded our intentionality about creating and nurturing an inclusive community. Unfortunately, political and other operatives have harnessed this energy, which has led to a rise in hate and neglect for those around us, particularly those who we judge as different from us.
So, maybe I wasn’t digressing after all.
May we all appreciate, honour and truly see the tray-bearer who brings us our coffee and all other things we rely on and savour. Or the people like a young man of highly compromised body, in a wheelchair, panhandling, and with whom I always look forward to interacting on my walks to the stores near home. After stopping to talk with him several times in the past, today I decided I wanted to know his name and him to know mine. His name is Mike.
“Cold Little Heart,” co-written with Dean Josiah Cover and Brian Burton, is the opening track from Michael Kiwanuka’s 2016 album, Love & Hate. I featured the title track in November 2020 at a time of great upheaval and division that has lingering effects for many friends in America.
Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. And thank you to the persistence of the YouTube algorithm. And Michael. And Mike.
Here’s the video for the live studio session version of the song, from Michael Kiwanuka’s official YouTube channel, with official lyrics in the notes section of the video post.