21 January 2008

Peace (2008?)

Apart from classical music immersion in the dance world, one of my earliest musical exposures to popular music (with due respect to Elvis) was the Kingston Trio. I hear myself and friends happily and beerily bellowing the MTA song ... apologies to the original lyricist: “Did he ever return? NO he never returned, he was lost forever ’neath the streets of Boston, the man who never returned ... .” And et cetera. Some of us probably had not even seen a subway system yet.

But what really sticks in my mind all these years is their Merry Minuet. It was composed in the 1950s when the Cold War was alive and well. What strikes me is that even in those days, when television was an infant--before satellite communications, the Internet, talking heads, and amateur on-the-spot filmographers brought global war into our living rooms--some “ordinary” people were aware of the sad and longstanding divisive elements among the world’s peoples.

You really have to remember the tune to get the intended effect:
They’re rioting in Africa.
They’re starving in Spain.
There’s hurricanes in Florida,
And Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering
With unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans.
The Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs.
South Africans hate the Dutch.
... And I don't like anybody very much!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man’s been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away.
They’re rioting in Africa.
There’s strife in Iran.
What nature doesn’t do to us
Will be done by our fellow man.
[compliments of; Kingston Trio lyrics provided for educational purposes.]

Goes to show. None of the news we hear today is very new. Even in the 1950s it wasn't new. The players may change, or they ascend or descend in global awareness, but what happened to the lessons of history and human tolerance for different from me?