Mittwoch, 28. November 2007

On music changing lives and politics

Not so long ago, the media went wild on the question of whether Live Earth achieved anything (except for emissions - and offsets ...). I, too, am not sure. Unlike Live 8 two years ago, Live Earth at least tried to use the event to spread some political demands. These were very American - and mainly focused on personal action. But at least they were there. To me, the most significant moment of Live Earth was Police playing together again in New York - and sending a most beautiful SOS. That was historic. That was fun. That was my memorable moment (just as Pink Floyd coming together again for Live 8 made me - almost? - think that that event was worth it after all). But what I really wonder is what Live Earth sparked in people. Will any budding activist out there say in 20 years: "I am who I am now because of Live Earth." To me, that is the measure - as I would not be who I am today, if it had not been for bands such as BAP. It was them playing at anti-nuclear (power and weapons) demonstrations throughout the 1980s that politicized me. It was BAP and Herbert Groenemeyer lyrics, that first got me questioning the status quo. For that, I will always be grateful. I still like BAP and Groenemeyer - though sometimes more for their politics than their music. Groenemeyer at a press conference at the 2005 G8 summit, for example, was asked about people like Bono spending so much time with the likes of Bush. His reply (as my memory serves me): "I never understood the tendency by some rockers on these islands to start with punk and end as Sir". A wonderful way of distancing himself from the "I am important because I lunch with those in power" kind of "activists" that Bono typefies ... - The musician who is my daily companion in my (political) life is ani difranco, though. In fact, I find it surprising that she has not featured on this blog yet. Those who know me also know that I quote her regularly. Under my emails (from where one, at least, has gone straight into a PhD thesis ;-)); in a best man speech ... Anytime, really. Ani is my age, shares my politics - but has a skill I do not possess. Well, several. She can write music, she can sing - and she can put emotions - including political ones - into words much more poetically than me. Hence, I quote. Hence, scraps of wisdom such as: "we are made to bleed/ and scab and heal and bleed again/ and turn every scar into a joke" keep me going on a bad day. And "if you're not trying to make something better/ Then as far as I can tell, you are just in the way" remains my activist motto. Sometimes, Ani seems to put into words what I experience. Every time I am in the US, for example, I am truly appalled (outside Manhatten and a few other islands of urbanity, anyway) at the way in which rampant capitalism has destroyed any urban form. Appalled by the sprawl - by the looped streets to nowhere. But I could not express what has happened to urban America as well as Ani. So - listen to how America has been turned into a Subdivision. If Live Earth didn't change your life - this should!

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