Inspirational musicians

That’s ‘inspirational’ due to their work ever-so-slightly beyond the realms of their most successful musical output; for example, in raising awareness of social and political causes, campaigning for charity, lending their voices – for singing or speaking – to help bolster major, televised, worldwide benefits and what not.

The obvious one has to be Saint/Sir (delete as you see fit) Bob Geldof, whose birthday is today. The Live Aid legend is now better known in some parts for his no-nonsense style of campaigning rather than for his music.

But there are so many others. There’s David Crosby and Graham Nash, Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel, Roger Daltrey, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt (whose website has a broad section covering her activist leanings and lists innumerable noble causes), Bono, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Yusuf Islam (better known as Cat Stevens), Elton John… They’ve defended the rights of humans and animals, they’ve set up their own foundations to assist orphans, veterans, sufferers of AIDS and cancer. They’ve dramatically pinned their colours to rival masts at election time.

How do you feel about celebrities sharing their beliefs, not necessarily exclusively through their music, and making you aware of which causes they endorse?

David, obviously, has supported his fair share down the years, but in the genteel manner that we have come to expect of him. His recent support of Gary McKinnon, I know, has ruffled the odd feather in certain quarters.

Paul McCartney singing (with Wings) about giving Ireland back to the Irish, which his record company didn’t want to release and was promptly blacklisted, is another controversial example. And what of the controversy surrounding Cat Stevens’ religious conversion? A prejudiced, selfish over-reaction if ever there was one.

I’m thinking also of the backlash to Neil Young’s Living With War album and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s 2006 Freedom of Speech tour (as documented in the Déjà Vu film). Is such a determined focus at all off-putting? Could you, or have you, turned your back on a musician’s work because his beliefs conflicted unforgivably with your own? Or is it just music, just an opinion; something for the musician to get out of his or her system and the listener to get over?

I’d like to hear your views and which moments stand out as being most effective or memorable, maybe even embarrassing. And do tell us something we might not know about the musicians you enjoy, but the rest of us perhaps know little about. Which causes are closest to their hearts and how have they used their privileged position to advance them? Which have you cheered and which have you cursed?

Favourite Protest Songs coming soon, so please keep them in mind ready for a future post. That should be a good one…

Lastly, thank you very much for the kind birthday greetings; I had a lovely day… or three, as it turned out.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

63 thoughts on “Inspirational musicians”

  1. FEd – Belated birthday wishes from me. Glad it was nice.

    In truth I prefer artists to speak through their art, and none moreso than musicians IMHO. I find that if someone whose art/music I love has a contrasting opinion to my own that it can become an issue, so I try to avoid it.

    I’m in favour of using public image to gain exposure for important causes, like voting turnout, or don’t do drugs, or even green issues… but there is a line between raising awareness and preaching that shouldn’t be crossed IMHO (and I’ve no idea where that line is).

    On the other hand, lines that should be crossed are the boundaries between electronica and blues… and so the collaboration between David and The Orb’s Alex Patterson has got me all hot and sweaty. 🙂

    N

    1. I agree with everything you said, Nick.

      I think that, maybe, it’s hard to know where that line is, because everyone feels differently about it.

      For me, the line you’re talking about is crossed when something makes me think that all those good words I’m listening to, seems more a self promotion than a way to support a cause.

      As I said in other comments, that’s what happens, for example, when I listen to Bono Vox, but I’m aware it could be just my impression, since many people don’t agree with me at all on this point.

      That said, I don’t like very much the way he uses his public image (of course, I prefer artists like David, Peter Gabriel, Annie Lennox, Tori Amos…) but I agree with the causes he supports and I think that, if what he does can help raising people’s awareness or even some money, so that’s OK.

      Bono, or artists like him, don’t give wrong messages, in the end. Public image can be used much worse than this. I think, for example, of those metal bands who promote violence, Nazism, or racist ideals. Even though they probably do so just to impress their (young) audience and make money, in my opinion, what they do is wrong.

      I’ll never actually like a song, if I believe it gives a message I completely disapprove, but I can listen to U2, even though I don’t like very much Bono’s image.

  2. A belated happy birthday, FEd.

    I did remember but then I forgot due to being hectically busy again. 😛

    1. Tell me about it! Next thing you know Christmas will be done and dusted. It seems that once it becomes August, then the year blurs past.

      Incidentally, Bob Geldof will always be a hero of mine. My vision of him is when he slams the desk with his fist saying “we need your money, now” or something along those lines. When he slammed his fist he emanated 100% emotion. He is 100% genuine.

  3. One such moment that stands in the memory is Bono’s spoken condemnation of the IRA during ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ in the U2 movie ‘Rattle and Hum’.

    Another moment for me personally was hearing one of my favourite bands, Marillion, play a track called ‘Voice from The Past’ on their ‘Somewhere Else’ album and tour in 2007. The lyrics written by Steve Hogarth referred to the White Wristband campaign which he felt had been forgotten about and with the song he was trying to ensure that famine and the availability of natural water in some places was not forgotten about… it certainly sent a message.

  4. Don Henley always has had very strong opinions about anything that has to do with politics and the environment. He has written one of the most beautiful songs ever; The Last Resort, about how West America was won and stolen from the original habitants. Recently he has written the epos “Long Road out of Eden” about the Iraq war.

    I adore his songs so much because he sings and writes them with all his heart and that’s how a song touches me. Even when I don’t really mind about the subject, just the intensity of the song and his voice is enough.

    Besides writing songs he has also founded the Walden Woods Project, to help the Walden Woods protect. He uses his fame and his musical abilities to raise money by e.g. fundraising concerts and of course bringing awareness to his fans and followers.

    I think that he has every right to use his fame and music to express his opinions about whatever interest him. And that he writes amazing songs because of it, makes me happy too!

    1. Esther, I’m in complete agreement and glad that you mentioned Mr Henley. He’s definitely a favourite and source of inspiration to me.

      I’d much rather that a song mean something, if only to the writer and not to me, than for a song to be bland, vacuous and dull.

      His writing on Long Road Out of Eden is stunning.

  5. I think the most cringe worthy was the guy with the CD in his mouth that was on Wogan with Sting a few years ago. The man just shouldn’t have been on that show as it was totally out of place for him… he looked really uncomfortable.

    The plight of the rainforests etc., should be addressed of course.

    And a happy one to you, Fed!

    1. Thanks, Paul.

      Shouldn’t have forgotten Sting, who has done loads for charity down the years, particularly for the preservation of rainforests and indigenous populations.

      That said, his Rainforest Fund came under attack last year and was rated one of the worst charities in New York City. Apparently, some years, less than half its annual revenue has been going towards actually saving the rainforests. Most charities spend 75% or more.

  6. I think it is great when a celebrity lends her voice to an important cause. If it is true that evil flourishes when good people do nothing, then we all need to use our voices to do good. Celebrities are in a unique position to make their voices known, so in my opinion they are doing their best good stuff when they speak their mind. There is nothing better that we can do than to tell others what’s important to us.

  7. Generally speaking, I like hearing what others have to say about things, as long as they aren’t obnoxious about it if I don’t agree. A second opinion is always welcome.

    But there is a line, I think. If Hitler had done an album of violin music rather than offing himself, I would have given that a skip. I disagree strongly with the attitude that gives birth to most RAP, but there is no conflict, because I don’t like it anyway.

    Unless someone is trying to drum up support for a cause that threatens lives (which would be atypical), the music comes first with me. (Of course, if I don’t like the music, philosophically profound lyrics won’t save it.)

    1. I’m sorry but I can’t get the image of Adolf sawing away on his violin playing something to soothe one of poor old Himmler’s screaming headaches.

      Who knows, it could have provided a fascinating insight into the mind of a man who we must otherwise judge by his insane actions and rabid oratory.

      Ditto Stalin on the trombone, or Pol Pot banging away on the bongos… and think what a marvellous and warm soprano Lady Thatcher could have made…

    2. 🙂 I think “sawing away” is probably a very apt depiction. He was also an artist, I’m told, though I can’t remember ever seeing anything he painted.

      Apparently his alter-ego was a sensitive soul. Who knew?

  8. Dear Fed,

    Here’s a song that I recently heard, an excellent song with an important message. As far as I understand it’s Bob Geldof who’s behind this (again), and managed to involve a lot of musicians as well as Desmond Tutu and Kofi Annan. I’m sure the message reaches some people that otherwise wouldn’t be involved, and that’s the whole point, isn’t it? As simple as that.

    The song and the video gave me the goosebumps, anyhow. Though I’m not sure I liked the original with Midnight Oil as much, if not even more.

    And a belayed but well-meant birthday greeting from me to you, too.

    Lene :/

  9. Why anyone would believe that a celebrity has anything positive to contribute to “world problems” is truly beyond me… What exactly makes their opinion more valid than anyone else’s???

    Narcissists can barely see beyond themselves… Publicity to make more money and keep tongues wagging…

    And what exactly does a catch phrase like “raising awareness” actually mean??? How do you gauge it… Worthless spin…

    Happy Birthday, FEd!!!

    1. Thank you very much.

      By the way, I don’t think their opinion is necessarily more valid than anyone else’s, but they are in a position to be heard and should know that some of their fans will take time to consider their viewpoint, if not blindly follow it.

    2. some of their fans will take time to consider their viewpoint, if not blindly follow it.

      FEd,

      You hit the nail on the head with the last comment. It’s not the issue that celebrities have causes and support certain beliefs. It’s that there is a population of people who just blindly follow without doing their own homework and analysis. That is the real problem.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    3. Andrew:

      Wouldn’t the same be true of the politician who advocates for a cause — that there are people who follow that politician blindly and without thinking for themselves?

      How about business leaders, social action advocates, radio talk show hosts, late night comedians, etc.? Why should they be allowed to advocate a cause when there are people who blindly follow without thinking?

      How about husbands talking with their wives. How often does one party just go along because it’s easier that way?

      Following your argument to its logical extreme, one could say that nobody should ever speak with another person for fear of being followed without being evaluated. Chattering on about the weather, what Jennifer Aniston is wearing, etc., is okay. But anything requiring thought? A no-no.

      Does that sound ridiculous? That’s because it is. So, why should we tell a musician not to make his opinions known about important topics?

      The big difference between myself and David Gilmour is that he can make music and I don’t know how to. But we both have the same right to speak our mind.

    4. Dan,

      I think you miss the point. I never said that no one should advocate a cause. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, a cause, etc. I think everyone is entitled to speak their mind as well although I know there are places where that can’t be done. But don’t just go along with something just because someone else says you should. Do your homework and make sure you agree with everything as well.

      It’s like that old excuse in grade school when the teacher asks, why did you take Sally’s hat? You answer, because Michele told me to do that. At which point the teacher typically replies, if Michele told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge would you do that?

      And further, you said, “why should we tell a musician not to make his opinions known about important topics?”

      I never said they shouldn’t, but remember that it is an important topic to the musician. You are the one that has to decide that it is an important topic to you as well. The musician’s views may not always truely mesh with yours.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    5. FEd, that’s based on the assumption that people actually tune in to the “media” that’s broadcasting the “message”… I personally avoid anything that’s mass transmitted and has “celebrity” or “political”content like the plague… I don’t pay any serious attention to it… We are”brainwashed” enough as it is…

      It amazes me that some people think that the celebrities, management, distributors and large multinational companies are a highly educated, serene, well intending, balanced group of helpful individuals that have the average person’s interests at heart…

      When in reality, they are a group of get rich quick, low life cowboys, intent on S_H_A_F_T_I_N_G their target customers for every penny they can get, just so they can live the “high life” at the world’s expense…

      The “media” that broadcast celebrity opinion funds war and political systems that are enslaving us…

      All “charity” should be equally funded by the taxation system.

      People’s fundamental needs should be beyond the “money game”…

  10. Greetings FEd,

    Hope you had a wonderful birthday and did some fun stuff in recognition of it. Of course you know I baked you a cake. 😉

    Love the topic. I touched on an album last week that very much fits into this blog. The Cities’ Sampler, Songs for the Earth. Still wish I could find this somewhere to share with all of you. Anyway, the artists donated songs and recordings that concern the environment. The recordings and sales benefited the Minnesota Food Shelf.

    These songs are absolutely worth hearing:

    Sting-We Work The Black Seam
    Merl Saunders with Jerry Garcia-Blues From The Rainforest
    Chris Rea-The Road To Hell
    Nils Lofgren-The Silver Lining
    10,000 Maniacs-Poison In The Well
    Ann Reed-Styrofoam
    David Arkenstone-Yosemite

    And the list goes on.

    Celebrities are in the best position to help raise awareness and support causes with their popularity and financial means. I’m proud to purchase music knowing the musician displays such empathy and concern. Although we all need to do our part with whatever means we have available to us, and that can mean something as simple as recycling, composting, hanging out clothes and adjusting thermostats, etc…

    We can be thankful for the celebrities contributions in my mind, and we can all take a bow when we all work together at worthy causes no matter what they benefit. Kind of like a buffet, lots to choose from, just got to take your pick.

    Love to the World.

    1. Thanks, Judy. I’m sure it was a delicious cake.

      Very well said about each of us doing our small bit, even if it’s something relatively simple. I imagine cynics doubt that the rich and famous can be bothered to do trivial things such as sorting through the plastic for whichever types are recycled in their areas. I have to admit to wondering how many do the everyday things in addition to making the occasional grand gesture.

  11. I really felt that Harry Chapin did a lot in starting a charity program for feeding the hungry and he always gave a good part of his money that he would receive from his concerts to feeding the hungry. It’s a shame that he passed away at early age but it was Bob Geldof who kept the program going.

    Happy Birthday Bob Geldof!

    Thomas

  12. Hi, FEd.

    I hope you had a good times in these days. 😀

    Well, I can’t stand those artists who use their popularity for promotion themselves. 😉

    I believe, unfortunately, artists stand truly Campaigns without TV or press attentions are only a few. I think it’s better to help all people in need without glamour.

    So, I have a great respect to Coldplay’s singer Chris Martin for his care for the Oxfam’s Campaign “Make Trade Fair”, Annie Lennox for the Campaign “SING”, and many other artists who work seriously with Amnesty International or other human rights organizations.

    It’s right their voices support these Campaigns because they have a great influence with an audience.

    Bye, Hydrea

  13. Hi bloggers,

    How about Mr Willie Nelson? He does his bit in various way. Farmers, musicians, Autism, Ice, cream, drugs, knives, and NORML. Amongst other things. Top dog! Should be an honorary Knight, with a voice like melting butter on burnt toast. DG could do this!

    P.S. Have gone a bit wobbly since browsing the news. I hope they are “all having fun!” Not wishing to dwell but I have spent Hundreds of Pound over the years on both names. The Orb Live actually made me fall over once! Was bit wobbly though. Apple wine.

    “Thinking about the possible coning of a baby mammoth”. Coincidence? Be good.

  14. My favourite words by Bob Geldof have always been “I don’t like Mondays”. 😉

    Joke. (And yes, bad joke as I think this song refers to a crime committed by a young girl in a school playground somewhere in California.)

    I’m sorry I didn’t understand what Bob Geldof said in the YouTube video but I think I can guess…

    I know I’ll probably be fired here but my opinion is that ONLY giving money to Africa won’t help Africans to get out of poverty. I have read interesting articles/analysis pointing out that this will only increase their dependence and their governments’ corruption. The best way to help them would be perhaps to let/make them discover what they can accomplish on their own. It’s a matter of Education. (OK, Education needs money, too.)

    “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

    I found the section ‘Activism’ of Bonnie Raitt’s website very interesting (Thank you for the link). A lot of ‘concrete’ good causes. Bravo.

    Maybe not a real musician (although she was a decent singer in the past, especially with Serge Gainsbourg), but I’d like to mention Brigitte Bardot for her constant fight for animal rights.

    She and her foundation act to increase awareness, inform, relieve and save all sorts of animals around the world, such as for example seals and whales that are still slaughtered in some parts of the world. She is also fighting the abuse of circus animals, the cruelty to farm animals, etc.

    1. Brigitte Bardot is a fine example… which can be read more than one way, I’m sure.

      I enjoyed her attack on Sarah Palin. In response to Palin likening herself to a pitbull, Bardot said: “I know them well and I can assure you that no pitbull, no dog, nor any other animal for that matter is as dangerous as you are.”

      Ouch. 😛

    2. Ah, yes, I recognise BB’s style, she has always been such “une grande gueule” (big mouth?) as we would say here. Sarah Palin just got what she deserved, bravo, BB. 😉

      That said, Brigitte Bardot is a fine example… of how some people can love animals so much more than human beings.

      I always deeply respected her for her tireless, virulent, successful animal rights/welfare campaigns, but I feel rather uncomfortable with her recurrent (racist) statements about immigration/Muslims.

    3. Now that’s a very different matter, although I do support her work on behalf of the animal kingdom. A boycott of Canadian maple syrup is the latest, I believe (as a protest against the commercial culling of seals).

    4. Truly heart-breaking, yet sadly necessary if ignorant, self-absorbed humans are finally to fully understand that our actions (wearing fur, eating unusual meat-based delicacies, visiting the circus or bull ring, not neutering our pets, etc.) have such dire consequences for innocent and wonderful animals… hell, who live, and die, however and wherever we have chosen. It’s sheer madness.

    5. Brigitte Bardot is one of my heroines because of her work for animals. Animal cruelty makes me so mad. 😡 I couldn’t even look at the pictures on Brigitte’s site because they upset me so.

  15. An artist has the right to communicate whatever beliefs s/he want to communicate be it through their recordings or at their performances.

    Consumers have the right to either agree or disagree with those beliefs, or they can choose to look past those beliefs and just enjoy the art form. For example, I can’t stand when Bono gets on his soapbox but I still like to listen to the song “Beautiful Day.”

    Although as a consumer you are paying to see a band perform, remember that it is their stage and they have a right to communicate whatever they want to communicate as well as play whatever they want to play. Although it does bother me sometimes when an artist decides to get political during a performance, it does sometimes detract from the experiences instead of enhancing it.

    When I find it particularly offensive is when an artist uses something like the Grammy Awards to make a statement. Get up there, say thank you and move on. Granted, maybe if the award was for a particular song or album that had a strong political message that it may be OK to say a word or two on your inspiration. But don’t start preaching. If I wanted to hear your spiel I would have bought a ticket to your concert.

    There are many instances where I may like the music of particular artists but I definitely don’t agree with all their beliefs and causes. That is my right, just as much as it is their right to believe what they want to believe.

    To be continued…

  16. As an example, that is one reason why I have no interest in David’s recent performance of Chicago. I haven’t heard it and nor do I have any interest in listening to it. Doesn’t mean though that I don’t like other material he has done and it doesn’t mean that I would stop buying his music all together.

    Cat Stevens is mentioned above. I always considered him an interesting person in that here is a great talent who wrote some amazing songs and then stepped away from it. It’s not like he wrote Bring Your Daughters to the Slaughter, he wrote songs like Peace Train, Wild World and Morning Has Broken (well he didn’t write that last one). If you ask me, his behavior was just odd. But he did explain later that it wasn’t really the music that he stepped away from, it was the lifestyle and excess that accompanies being a music star.

    However what really struck me was the backlash he endured by the industry. I mentioned it once before on this blog but the industry completely abandoned him once he changed his ways. For many years you never heard any of his songs played on the radio. And I remember DJs in the US talking negatively about him for years. Pretty odd for a country that also preaches first amendment rights of free speech.

    I was going to mention Sting but Paul beat me to it. A few others that should be mentioned are Paul Simon, Billy Joel and don’t forget about Dave Matthews.

    And then there is Ted Nugent. He is definitely an outspoken artist who not only preaches his causes but actually considered running for political office. I’m sure the majority here do not agree with Ted’s politically conservative views. What some may not know is that aside from being pro-hunting and gun ownership, Ted is also an advocate for conservation and he is strongly opposed to drugs/alcohol. He does speak his mind and does use any stage available to him to make a point. His means of delivery of those messages is typically full frontal assault and he doesn’t mince words, he speaks his mind.

    He is an interesting character to say the least but when you look at his music it seems to always be about one thing.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. However what really struck me was the backlash he endured by the industry. I mentioned it once before on this blog but the industry completely abandoned him once he changed his ways. For many years you never heard any of his songs played on the radio. And I remember DJs in the US talking negatively about him for years. Pretty odd for a country that also preaches first amendment rights of free speech.

      Indeed. Not too unlike the treatment of Cliff Richard here in the UK. I thought the BBC unofficially banning his charity – yes, that’s right, charity – Christmas single a few years ago was disgraceful. Whether or not they liked it, or approved of its Christian message, refusing to play it was just plain childish. (It still reached Number One, by the way.)

      But then, the BBC didn’t think the Gaza appeal was worth mentioning, either…

  17. I’ve always felt that “Beds are Burning” by Midnight Oil was one of the best songs of the 80s. I would think that song is every bit as controversial as Sir Paul’s about the Irish.

    1. I’ve always felt that “Beds are Burning” by Midnight Oil was one of the best songs of the 80s.

      I’m with you on that one.

      As far as gigs go, when the Oils played on the streets of New York, in front of the Exon head office. The play list was,

      Progress
      Sometimes
      Dreamworld
      Blue Sky Mine
      River Runs Red

      And a tribute to John Lennon, Instant Karma.

      I’ve got this on video and the sound recording is fairly average (you can hear the traffic, etc), but in my view it was a very powerful performance.

      Peter Garrett is now the environment Minister down here. Personally I wish he give politics the flick and get back to the music, but somebody got to run the country and if he feels that he can contribute, well good on him.

      With me protest music is OK as long as it’s good music, but I don’t like begin preached to.

      Cheers for the other day FEd.

    2. Ever hear a song played so many times that hearing it again just makes you sick to your stomach? Beds Are Burning is one of those songs for me.

      Subject matter of the song aside, I can care less if I ever hear this song again. It is one of those songs that was so overplayed on the radio that it played itself out.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  18. Tori Amos, for her work with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), and also Maynard James Keenan (from Tool) who has also done stuff for RAINN and Axis of Justice.

    All the members of Rush have done a fair bit for charity too, stuff like United Way, and more recently with Grapes For Humanity.

    And of course Peter Gabriel has been involved in loads, including The Elders.

  19. What, doesn’t ANYBODY happen to think of Bob Dylan fitting into this category? Or Pete Seeger???? Woody Guthrie???

    I’m a musician myself- greatly inspired, of course, by both all the various incarnations of the Floyd, a lot of folk music, and of course, much of what is aptly termed “world music”… but in terms of causes being attacked, you can’t get much worse than being blackballed by the US Government. As far as the record companies go, they can all get stuffed, because these days, we can spread our music and messages through the internet, and any 12 year old can get his hands on a decent recording studio program. (Whether or not he’ll use it well is probably up to talent, encouragement, and fate.)

    And let’s not forget Rage Against The Machine, who shut down the stock market for a while, then apparently disappeared to who knows where in a cloud of dollar bills.

  20. Generally speaking, I am not interested in a musician’s pet cause, nor am I impressed when someone “donates” their time to perform at a benefit; however, I am impressed when an artist donates the money that they got from increased record sales after performing at a high-profile charity event.

    Having said all that, I’m going to completely contradict myself and say that I was very interested in a video clip that Roger Waters narrated for the UN concerning Israel and Palestine.

    I also appreciated the efforts of many (including Mr. Gilmour 😀 ) to highlight the concern of the young man who has Asperger’s Syndrome who is fighting extradition.

    Basically, I have to 1) believe that the artist is operating of some level of sincerity and honesty and 2) have some amount of affinity with the matter at hand for me to be drawn to their cause.

    amanda

  21. Bono takes the top prize: because he has elevated the discourse above politics, i.e., Bono has found constructive ways to work with anyone from former President Bill Clinton to former President George W. Bush. At the end of the day, that’s what makes one a powerful spokesperson for a cause and it also highlights people’s potential to do good. This is quite an admission for me to make as I tend to be very cynical.

    Being a part of the majority that will easily knock one political side and embrace the other is easy – it’s real leadership when you demonstrate a willingness to work with anyone you can and you rise above that.

    Members of Pink Floyd come in right behind Bono – largely because much of the charity work has been done discreetly, showing a quiet dignity that is rare among charitable yet flashy celebrities.

    Charity can come in many forms too – some of these can have an impact on a smaller circle of people but it is quite a powerful one. At times it’s also very intangible (more spiritual than temporal). One such example was the late Arthur Killer Kane – from the New York Dolls (check out the documentary New York Doll). After crashing quite hard and having an epiphany of sorts, his work became more private and unnoticeable to many than what we normally think of as charity from rock stars. Kane arrived at a point when he had little to give but somehow gave so much to those he encountered after his epiphany…

    All people to learn from, for sure.

  22. The issue is not that celebrities have the right to share their beliefs and/or pet projects as everyone has such a right, in my opinion. Such a thing should not change whether they have created great music or not – the music either is great or it’s not! Personally the musicians I’ve come to respect are the ones who stand for something. But, to me, what they stand for comes out in their music in the first place – their sense of life, their stance on things that matter to them, etc.

    What I don’t want to hear is people pushing their values on to me simply because they are a celebrity.

    Jonathan

  23. I’m quite happy to listen to other people’s opinions on lots of subjects, whether they happen to be famous or not. Sometimes it does take someone speaking out to get people thinking/talking and hopefully acting. Whether that’s through interviews, songs, photographs, paintings or whatever it’s got to be a good thing.

    That said, I’m not so keen on being lectured by self-appointed saviours of mankind/democracy/the planet.

    I’d go for Peter Gabriel’s ‘Biko’ as an example of how to get it just right.

  24. Hi FEd, a quick off topic:

    A very happy belated birthday!

    Yes, it’s unbelievable – it’s Autumn and October… my head and feelings are quite in summer.

    Today in Rome 29° temperature! And this situation doesn’t help to perceive the Fall.

    A hug,
    diana

  25. By the way, I don’t think their opinion is necessarily more valid than anyone else’s, but they are in a position to be heard and should know that some of their fans will take time to consider their viewpoint, if not blindly follow it.

    That’s what I mean Fed, I think that celebrities can play an important role on many topics and influence people’s mind much more than me.

    A very happy birthday Fed, I’m sorry to be late. Hope you a had a wonderful time.

    1. Thanks, Piero, I did.

      I think it’s a sad fact that many people don’t know what’s happening in the world around them, but they do find the time to read the tabloids and to follow the careers of those that interest or entertain them. If Bono or Brad Pitt can make someone think, and trigger a positive reaction, that can only be a good thing.

      I’m sure you have more interesting things to say than many of these opportunistic celebrities, of course. 😉

    2. I’m happy you had a great time Fed.

      People usually don’t care about what’s happening around them but always know exactly who kissed who and who dates who… it’s even funny, sadly. I meant that it’s a good thing if celebrities can take advantage of their position in order to make people think about something important, as they have the power to communicate with millions of people. I absolutely agree with you.

  26. Hello,

    I reckon one of the most active artists endorsing a cause was the John Lennon/Yoko Ono, with their relentless peace campaign. John Lennon was very much himself – brave and direct to the issue as he saw it, not at all being “politically correct” in his message and how he chose to express it.

    Regardless of what we think about the “Bed peace”, truth is that John used his huge popularity to express the simple message “war is over… if you want it”.

    I do believe that he suffered commercially also because he was so active (and people, who are naturally conservative, reacted against his radicalism and over-exposition).

    Besides that he left songs like “Give Peace a Chance”, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” (and others) endorsing his peace cause and are still widely heard (even if his strong lyrics – as in “Happy Xmas” aren’t fully heard).

    I do appreciate Geldof’s bravery when facing the “world leaders”. He has the courage to look them in the eye and say they’re doing nothing and letting down millions of people. But truth is that Geldof’s message is meant for us, ordinary people: if we keep behaving as Sheep we’ll keep on watching for pigs on the wing.

  27. Happy belated to you Fed!

    And to Bob as well. “If you believe in Justice”. I certainly do!

    We shan’t forget David for what he has done for the poor, so I’ll still call him David Sir always until the Queen finally gets some sense into this matter, rightly so!

    Great comments by all today! Thank You. 😉

    1. Thanks, Frank.

      By the way, good to see that Bob Dylan will be supporting Crisis (and and the World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian organisation fighting hunger worldwide) by donating international royalties from the sale of his Christmas album.

      Similarly, all US royalties will be donated to Feeding America.

  28. Happy Belated Birthday FEd!

    I have been having computer issues for over a week. 😡

    I can and do appreciate the many venues that are available to get their messages across. I just have a hard time embracing philosophies (real or implied) of those who make money for their efforts while asking for the impoverished and working poor to donate. The sincerity is somewhat lacking. It’s sort of like the flavor of the month. (Oh my! What cause can I make money off of this month?)

    Furthermore, “That said, I’m not so keen on being lectured by self-appointed saviours of mankind/democracy/the planet.” Ditto, for me.

    Penny

    1. Thank you, Penny. I share your cynicism and irritation toward opportunist rent-a-gobs entirely, by the way.

      Hats of once more to David for his Live8 call to donate profits made as a result of performing at the historic gig. It’s just a shame that so few shared his unease at making money from exploiting an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

  29. A very happy belated birthday wish from the lovely South….

    I have big respects for Chrissie, Bob and David for supporting Gary McKinnon. This world, our governments are sometimes mad and they forget what is really important and are following rules because there must be rules, not because of the initial intention of the rules.

    A lot of artists did a great job for human rights, animal rights, amnesty, or disasters wherever.

    I’m looking out for this one:

    * Nick Mason, Bill Wyman, Bryan Ferry, Peter Gabriel and Troy Donockley for this year’s Children In Need appeal. (Is David Gilmour also involved with this one?)

    One of the projects I was proud of, and probably not know at this forum, was ProgAid. 50 of my favourite proggy artists released a single, including Troy Donockley, Anthonny Phillips and all those other smaller bands, Marillion, Magenta, Pendragon, Mostly Autumn, Arjen Lucassen, the Flower Kings, IQ, Oliver Wakeman, Landmarq, Pineapple Thief and and raised money for the Tsunami. Mmm, 13.000 pounds was nice but embarrassing… the lack of support from record labels, radio stations and I was disappointed. A lot of people wanted to help, but wanted to see money… (and I knew they tried to get in contact with Nick Mason…).

    What about Jackson Browne, Bonnie Riatt, Graham Nash and others with “no nukes”?

  30. 8) Kudos to George Harrison and John Lennon also, for promoting Peace! That in itself was courageous at the time.

  31. Here is one name no one expected: Phil Collins. Phil has lent support to The Prince’s Trust, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy and PETA (like David Gilmour and Paul McCartney has). Plus was one of first songwriters to tackle on the homeless epidemic.

    The Genesis song from their 1981 album Abacab called “Man On the Corner” was one of the first songs to address the US’ dirty little secret “the homeless epidemic” and this was years before it became a big issue. Then of course he came under fire from some people and politicians for his big hit in 1989 “Another Day in Paradise” (which featured our friend David Crosby on backing vocals) which again tackled the homeless epidemic.

    Phil and David Gilmour IMHO are my two inspirational musicians (John Deacon of Queen is another and Dennis DeYoung is another). Both DG and PC have championed the fight on homeless and also donated millions to Autism charities (I have Asperger’s Syndrome so I’m forever grateful to the two). I did see a photo of the two together taken at Live Aid in 1985.

    Also, Phil called David in 2004 “a lovely, friendly guy” while calling Roger Waters on the We Can’t Dance DVD in 2007 “a miserable b*stard”.

    Also Neil Peart is one of my inspirational lyric writers and people in life.

    Happy Birthday by the way FEd (I live in the US so I am hours behind schedule).

    1. Thanks very much, Terrence.

      ‘Another Day in Paradise’ is an exceptional track with a video to match it. I’ll always remember that huge sign, which reads: Please don’t give to beggars, they cause traffic problems. It says all you need to know about our society, doesn’t it?

      I didn’t know that David Crosby sang backing vocals on that one.

    2. I know it seems incredible, but I had never seen the video of “Another Day in Paradise” before now. Thanks for the link.

      All my respect to Phil Collins, once again.

      Your comments reminded me of Brian May.

      He also supports Nordoff-Robbins and Prince’s Trust, more than Teenage Cancer Trust and Nelson Mandela’s campaign about AIDS.

      He’s also very interested in ecology and environment.

      I never liked very much Queen’s music, but I esteem them for the many charity causes they always supported and for the discreet way they had to do it. Just the opposite of their glamorous image on the stage.

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