then i realised i know very little about anything like arabic or north african music-only a few fragments that dont even constitute a few random pieces of a jigsaw.i am ashamed how little i know.perhaps others can help me rectify that?
in the face of such ignorance,i wondered what else would play in my head or indeed behind the then hopeful,optimistic images of what the media have dubbed the"egyptian/north african spring".
i thought of "el pueblo unido,jamas sera vencido"(please forgive my poor spanish too)and found it on you tube though i could not remeber the band behind the recording i once had and have mislaid.
then i thought of "political anthems".before moving on to specific pieces of music,i thought about the notion of anthems.
forget national anthems,except....the red flag which for me is spoilt by the associatiion with the british labour party and indeed the somewhat sarcastic parody,which indldes the line(s),"..the working class can kiss my.../ive got the stewards job at last".then the internationale.then the alternative british/english national anthem,which is the hymn "jerusalem".
i will not allow myself to be put off by the right wing claims for this hymn,sometimes sung by fascists and football fans.the key is that the main author,to the words,is william blake,who i consider one of the gtreatest writers and poets in english,and who wrote about and lived the experience of revolutionary ideas,even though they might be overlaid by a strangeness and mysticism which university english departments exaggerate i believe,to disguise the revolutionary and gnostic content.as an aside i would suggest it should be the anthem of revolutionary england,which id want to rename as albion.
a second strand of thinking about anthems is for me the rocl and other music of the 1960s which certainly was and to extent remains the soundtrack of the lives of at least akey segment of a generation-those"babyboomers",inclduing myself drawn into the counterculture and the new left.whilst recorded music gives a mobility to music that predatse the babyboomers,it is the babyboomers who are the first to experience such a proximity between our persons,our wider culture and events themselves.films of the 1960s and later show for example Woodstock an the expression of a music antithetical to the warf in vietnam and emblematic of a generation.anthems.
i think of the film and music of woodstock,of those same and other tunes and songs in the much later film"good morning,vietnam".i also have recolections of film footage of us military helicopters,young "grunts"hanging off them and rockets being launched all to the loud rock music of the 1960s,and expressing not the glories of imperialism but the alienation of the soldiers and the war and its victims.
whilst it has no words to it,i think of jimi hendrix rendition of the star spangled banner"/american national anthem,which whilst being felt by hendrix to be patriotic gives a very diffrenet twsit to the usual rendition and loud and clear expression to a different sort of pride which expresses the pain of war in vietname,war against the "yellow man".then there is country joe and the fish"fixin to die rag"again about bietnam.
whilst much less political in any overt sense,i also think of alvin lee's"going home",a white blues reworking that describes in its music if not in its words the best black-white blending of what might be good about america.and i want it for my funeral.
decades if not generations on there is much more.to pick but three i think of amon duul IIs mazambique which describes war in mozambique from an internatrionalist perspective and ends with gthe loud whisper,"unite and fight".i always imagine that it also contains the words £black and white...(unite and fight)"but i think that might be imagination in overdrive.secondly.bruce springsteen's born in the usa"which contains a rejection of war in vietnam alongside a celebfration of being an ordinary american.the story is that gm/general motors wanted to use thsi to promote their cars,somehow erasing the vietnam reference in their heads in doing so.it is to sprinbgsteens credit that he refused to allow its usage despite what it would have earned him.indeed he went on to turn over all the royalties of another sone to a workers theatre company on los angeles and of another to the british num/national union of mineworkers during and after the greate but defeated workers strike of 1984-5.i ams also reminded of james blood ulmers punk jazz tune which is something like"how glad to be in america"but that is a different story.
last her and sort-of third,is bruce cockburn's"if i had arocket launcher",which describes the fear and then the searing anger of being an american amiongst the local and indigenous victims of us heicpter airpower in central and south america.it includes lines like,"if i had arocket launcher,.....i would retaliate/make somebody pay/some son-of-a-bitch would die".the senteiment and anger is searing rage,though some have,in their stupidity chosen to interpret the emotion as an unpatriotic(to the usa) threat,which i reject not least because i be;ieve cockburn is canadian and not american though it would not be the first time the usa drew that conclusion-for example in the 1950s or 60s the house unamerican activities committe put a german emigre on trial for unamerican activities.bertholdt brecht tretaed this with the contempt it deserved but was nevertheless burned by the experience.
what makes cockburns song just so powerful for me is partly because he is a christian,and is singing about experiences he did indeed experience.he expresses emotions that christians are not supppossed or allowed to feel-which is liberating for listeners like myself.whilst some defenders of the song have stressed the difference between actualk events oobserved and the imagined response,for me tit is much more ambivalentr and enigmatic.maybe he really would have used the rocket launcher.
a third source of anthems has been generated by trhe newer dance/club music,though my recall here is less clear so i will return to this issue on a later occassion.
if rfevolution is the fdestival of the oppressed then our actions can,in my opinion always benefit from the soundtrack that goes along with it.