Excuse Me Mr. – Ben Harper

Someone may know Ben Harper only for his music which is a mix of rock, reggae, soul and folk, but this amazing artist is involved in many different activism campaigns,...

Someone may know Ben Harper only for his music which is a mix of rock, reggae, soul and folk, but this amazing artist is involved in many different activism campaigns, from defending the environment to fighting against poverty and hunger.

‘Excuse Me Mr’ is included in the album Fight for Your Mind, released in August 1995 by Virgin Records, which was positively welcomed by critics and fans, and was the last solo album before adding Innocent Criminals to his line-up. The entire album, as someone could guess from its title, is Ben Harper’s expressions and frustrations related to the topics dear to him, the ones he considers worth raising his voice for.

This particular song accuses a Mr., a rich man or policymaker, of only thinking about his own gains , without thinking of the consequences his action will have on the environment (isn’t that your oil in the sea/and the pollution in the air Mr./whose could that be), or on the children who are suffering hunger (can’t you see the children dying/you say that you can’t help them/Mr. you’re not even trying). Harper threatens his interlocutor to take the Mr. away from in front of his name, because a man who doesn’t use his fortune to help other can’t be called a man.

In the end the singer warns this man that he will not be saved, not even in heaven, because when you get there/they don’t ask how much you saved/all they’ll want to know, Mr./Is what you gave.

More than twenty years have passed from the release of this song, and the world is more than ever fighting to find a solution for climate change and to reducing hunger; maybe the solution resides in Haper’s call to use our time to invest in solving the problems that afflict our society and that can only worsen in the future.

Lyrics

Excuse me Mr.
do you have the time
or are you so important
that it stands still for you

excuse me Mr.
lend me your ear
or are you not only blind
but do you not hear

excuse me Mr.
isn’t that your oil in the sea
and the pollution in the air Mr.
whose could that be

excuse me Mr.
but I’m a mister too
and you’re givin’ Mr. a bad name
Mr. like you

so I’m taking the Mr.
from out in front of your name
cause it’s a Mr. like you
that puts the rest of us to shame
it’s a Mr. like you
that puts the rest of us to shame

and I’ve seen enough to know
that I’ve seen too much

excuse me Mr.
can’t you see the children dying
you say that you can’t help them
Mr. you’re not even trying

excuse me Mr.
take a look around
Mr. just look up
and you will see it’s comin’ down

excuse me Mr.
but I’m a mister too
and you’re givin’ Mr. a bad name
Mr. like you

so I’m taking the Mr.
from out in front of your name
cause it’s a Mr. like you
that puts the rest of us to shame
it’s a Mr. like you
that puts the rest of us to shame

and I’ve seen enough to know
that I’ve seen too much

so Mr. when you’re rattling
on heaven’s gate
let me tell you Mr.
by then it is too late

cause Mr. when you get there
they don’t ask how much you saved
all they’ll want to know, Mr.
Is what you gave

excuse me Mr.
but I’m a mister too
and you’re givin’ Mr. a bad name
Mr. like you

so I’m taking the Mr.
from out in front of your name
cause it’s a Mr. like you
that puts the rest of us to shame
it’s a Mr. like you
that puts the rest of us to shame

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Excuse Me Mr. – Ben Harper
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Sounds from the Bucket
Francesca Aloisio

Francesca is both an International Relations graduate and a dancer living in Rome. She is particularly interested in international issues, intercultural learning and culture sharing, as well as music and arts. She is currently a consultant for the UN agency IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) in the communication division.
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