Three Little Birds

It is possibly one of the top ten most sacred texts in the last 50 years of contemporary music. Its author is an icon, a revolutionary, a martyr and a legend. I honestly can’t believe I released a cover version of this song in 2012 in the first place, let alone the remastered, repackaged and reissued version that I re-released Friday.

I was in Brooklyn this week, finishing guitars and vocals for what will be my big, new 2022 album. Wednesday night, I took the L into Manhattan for the first time since leaving New York in 2019. The bleached-gray streets were rife with young, urban professionals City Biking, scooting, jogging and rollerblading every which way with their AirPod Pros, and 1000-yard stares.

I don’t miss it.

I don’t miss the noise, the traffic or the concrete. I don’t miss conference rooms, corner delis or subway cars. I don’t miss doormen, wait staff or maître ds. I don’t miss the race, the hustle, the gotta get ahead and bigger, better thing.

And I don’t miss the worry.

We were so worried then. Always. About everything.

And now could we not be? We were kids with a kid and a kid on the way. We had jobs bigger than maybe we’d imagined. And we rarely stood still: ships passing, high fiving, Outlook calendaring in the night. Reprieve and refuge were infrequent.

So in May of 2012, just a few months before Elsie was born, Abbi and I spent a five glorious days together in Jamaica, the last trip of its kind since. A Baby Moon, if you’ll beg my pardon. 

We had our own house on a hill above the ocean. A wrap-around porch, and plunge pool. We filled ourselves with fresh, local fruits and vegetables. Went to bed with the moon, rose with the sun, and moved with the cycles of the tides.

And as we packed to leave, and braced ourselves against the inevitable brutality of our life in New York, I realized that we’d, somehow, not listened even once to Jamaica’s greatest export: Robert Nesta Marley. 

I can still smell hibiscus in the air, feel the warm sun on my skin, and hear his smiling, soothing, reassuring voice echo through the house.

Every little thing is gonna be alright.

And so, as I put together “Good Day Sunshine,” or, “Elsie’s Album,” as we refer to it at home, in 2012, I thought to include “Three Little Birds.” 

Maggie’s 2010 album, “Forever Young,” was a collection of songs picked by a soon-to-be-father for his unknown, unborn child. “Good Day Sunshine” was a chance to apply lessons learned as an actual, albeit still rookie, father. And so I erred towards simpler, more broadly-applicable themes: sleeping, dreaming, counting … worrying.

Every little thing is gonna be alright.

In the studio, Chris Abad, Jon Locker and I did our best to make it our own, unique, reverential sorta’ lullabye. Trenchtown by way of Waterloo, Iowa.

I’m still not quite sure how I mustered the temerity to render this cover onto the world. At the end of the day, I sought the counsel of my most trusted inner voice, Fred Rogers. As always, he encouraged me to trust my instincts.

And so I did. Though I’m still not quite sure why; like The Grateful Dead or The Who, this is not an artist central to my canon.

But the message is. And it felt like something we needed then. And as I put together my new collection of quote unquote greatest hits this summer, it felt like something we all need now more than ever.

Because every little thing is going to be alright.

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