ANCHORAGE - Libby Roderick never set out to write a song heard round the world. But "How Could Anyone," the simple folk tune she composed in response to a friend in pain, has been embraced by a global audience ranging from prisoners to politicians.
It has been sung by participants at a China women's conference, by monks and AIDS orphans in Zambia, and in Spanish by Texas nuns. The lyrics have been reprinted in a Japanese book helping people recover from eating disorders. It's been translated into Yupik Eskimo at a sexual assault prevention workshop in Alaska and used in a U.S. presidential campaign.
"It's like you have a child who goes out into the world and you hear all these great stories about them," said the 46-year-old singer-songwriter, sipping tea in her Anchorage home. "It's not about me. It's about this phenomenon and I'm just the vessel."
The song is short, more of a chorus really - it took Roderick only five minutes to compose - asking how cruelty can exist amid the miracle of humanity:
"How could anyone ever tell you you were anything less than beautiful?
How could anyone ever tell you you were less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice that your loving is a miracle?
How deeply you're connected to my soul."
"People are made to feel bad about so much," Roderick said. "They're too fat, they're too thin, too poor, too old, but I think that deep down inside they know they're better than others may think. This song speaks to both of those things at the same time, and I think that's why it's touched so many people."