Tag Archives: Musicians

Frank Ocean Uses
His Beautiful, Powerful Voice


If you know me, you know I believe deeply in the power of popular culture to shape our cultural, political and social landscape. It is the reason why I devote part of my life to writing. I believe narrative matters, that the stories we tell give shape and meaning to the facts and experiences from which we manufacture our world. I believe that narrative makes our world, that, as the American poet and political activist Muriel Rukeyser put it, “the universe is made of stories, not atoms.”

And so when someone who occupies space in the popular imagination — because of their ability to act or sculpt or erect a meaningful building or manufacture a story from thin air — uses their voice to tell a story that needs to be told, in just this way, at this particular moment in humanity’s great march, I stop and I listen and I let it wash over me. I listen as they speak in all of their tongues, tongues that may be alien to me or familiar, like unto or unlike my own. I listen as they speak in their human tongues, tongues which, the Tower of Babel notwithstanding, are meant for my ears, and my heart, and for our shared, deepened understanding of what it is to be human in all of its guises, and what it means to embrace the other as our own. 


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