Just in time for Mother's Day, Family Values @ Work has released a new playlist on Spotify called "Lead on Love" with songs about family, love, and caring. To make it a more perfect gift, the music isn't just for moms. It's meant for dads as well, and for anyone providing care for a loved one--whether a new child or a seriously ill family member. Most remarkable, this is a product designed not just to soothe someone up all night with a colicky baby or an ailing parent. The creators hope to spur listeners to take action in support of a paid leave proposal in their state and nationally so that someday soon, every person in this country will be able to care for their loved ones without taking a financial hit.
I had the delightful task of hanging out with a Spotify creative team while they brainstormed ideas for this playlist. The ideas flew fast and furious: 2Pac's "Letter 2 My Unborn," a Latin song about mothers, Kenny Loggins' "This is It," written when his father suffered serious heart problems. One team member participated via Google hangout from France, his baby nearby, sharing French song ideas and excitement about his upcoming three-month fully paid paternity leave (he'll take the remaining three months next year.)
I had intended to be a fly on the wall in this discussion. But the team kept asking me questions. They were thrilled to hear that the leave we fight for includes care for all family members, not just new parents. They wanted to include "Grandma's Hands" by Bill Withers.
When they asked me for my song ideas, I mentioned "Motherless Child" by Sweet Honey in the Rock. I told them about Sarah, a Milwaukee college student who had cancer at the age of ten and had to have her leg amputated. Neither of her parents had paid leave. Although they mobilized many relatives and friends to be with her in the hospital while they were at work, Sarah remembers every moment she had to spend alone, and how she sobbed. This is an all too common story in the U.S.
The group was horrified. Rocio, the team member born in Spain, wanted to know exactly what the leave policy is here. When I described it - the Family and Medical Leave Act, 12 weeks but unpaid, covers only firms of 50 or more, leaves out 40 percent of the workforce - her jaw dropped. "How can that be?" she said.
I told them that we hear this same question over and over at the hearings for our bills - from mothers of newborns who have to go back to work within two weeks of giving birth, from dads who have nothing more than a few days of vacation to spend with a new baby, from a cancer patient whose chemo and radiation treatments happen on her lunch hour, from a man who skips sleep because it's the only way he can spent time with a son who'd been shot. Then I explained why we are hopeful. With New York's victory last month, 36 million Americans in four states have won access to paid family and medical leave. Campaigns are growing across the country. This playlist and the link to our website will help.
This group was proud of working at Spotify. "This is the fourth place I've worked," said one of them. "It has the best policies, and by far the highest morale."
They were also proud of working on this playlist. Here's what they wrote me afterwards: "It was so inspirational and a tremendous reminder of why we love our jobs and the tremendous power of music, especially when attached to a worthy cause."
One other song I had suggested is the Playing for Change version of "Stand By Me," which begins with this line: "No matter who you are, no matter where you go in this life, someday you're going to need somebody to stand by you." The playlist opens with that song.
You can access the "Lead on Love" playlist here.