“Mama be alright, you ain’t gotta be my friend tonight. Mama be okay, you would probably bore me anyway.”
Okay, that’s not exactly the lyrics to Brother Ali’s Forest Whitiker, but it’s close. Thankfully, toddlers don’t have much use for proper grammar, they just seem to perk up if a song includes their name or the name of someone they know.
Reasons it’s a Tot Rocker: Having good use of onomatopoeia, simple melody and a repetitive chorus, make this a solid Tot Rocker. While it’s not a prerequisite for a Tot Rocker, Forest Whitiker is good because it also has a good message. It talks about setting aside ideas of beauty and worries about what others think and just being okay with yourself. I don’t care who you are, sometimes it’s hard to live by those words of wisdom.
Stuff about Forest Whitiker: There are several places on the interweb (here and here) that attempt to explain the lyrics to this song. Normally, explaining lyrics is not my thing. However, there are a couple things specific to this song that neither of these explanations seem to cover: the bible reference and the title. Firstly, there’s that whole “would you please turn in your bible, to the third chapter of the third line…” it looks like these other bloggers just assume that’s some made up stuff, ie. a fictional book called Beauty Tips According to Forest Whitiker. I decided to look into it a teensy bit. Here’s what I found in the Quran from the third chapter, the third line:
He has revealed to you the Book with truth, verifying that which is before it, and He revealed the Tavrat (torah) and the Injeel (gospel) aforetime, a guidance for the people, and He sent the Furqan (def: furqan. another name for quran “it separates the truth from fallacy and licit from illicit thoroughly”).
Hmmm. Maybe? Just in case, I checked the Torah and the New Testament too, but no obvious and enlightening easter egg to be found. Or is there? I’d love to hear what you think. Actually I’d love to here what Brother Ali thinks, but you’ll serve as a good stunt double.
Stuff about Forest Whitaker: The inspiration, or at least the likely namesake of the song, Forest Whitaker, is an actor, has a black belt in karate, went to college on a football scholarship and graduated from USC majoring in music. Quite the renaissance man, if I do say so. Don’t believe me? Check it out (here and here) for yourself. However, those facts aren’t probably why Brother Ali wrote this song about FW. It might have more to do with his (until recently) larger girth, and his physical condition, called ptosis- where the muscles in the eyelid are not strong enough to lift properly. What does Mr. Whitaker have to say about it?
“My eye? It’s a genetic thing. My dad had it and now I have it. You know, I just found out that it may be correctable a little bit, because it does impair my vision. When I look up, I lose sight in this eye. I think maybe for other people, it informs the way they see me. But I don’t really think about this eye, other than the times people talk about it, or when people take photographs of me sometimes they might say stuff about it. I don’t think it makes me look bad or anything. It just is.” (imdb.com)
FW has acted in some iconic films, including Platoon, The Last King of Scotland, Ghost Dog; the Way of the Samuari, and too many others to recount here.
In the midst of all those film credits however, you may have forgotten one of his early roles:
On Tour NOW! Are you up for a road trip? See Brother Ali in front of his hometown crowd at the iconic First Ave (Minneapolis) on Sunday, May 25th. Get to know Brother Ali. Make Friends with Brother Ali. Listen to Forest Whitiker.
Go ahead- add your Tot’s name to a song- I’m certain the song will become an instant favorite. And if you happen to know Brother Ali, ask him if he is referencing an actual verse with that whole third book, third line business- I’m still super curious.