My buddy Kanye West got me thinking last week. See, it seems the mouth that bores got booed off the stage in London. It’s not unusual lately for the gonzo-gone West to deliver rants and preach on stage. Kanye lamented this time on everything from his frustrations with fashion houses to his own fame. Gone West ranted about Louis Vuitton and Gucci, feeling they might discriminate against him because he’s black. He went on for perhaps twenty minutes, and the crowd booed and mostly went home. He could appeal to his audiences in a better way.
Popular music has often been topical in nature in response to political and social conditions. Many songs were popularized during wartime (unfortunately), including “Yankee Doodle Dandy” from the Revolutionary War (my friend Larry M. will love that one); “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Dixie” from the Civil War; “Over There” from World War I; and “God Bless America” from World War II. In the early 20th century, two American musical traditions played a significant role in social and political commentary, blues and folk music, both roots of rock and roll along with gospel.
On 13 July 1985, an incredible event called “Live Aid,” organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, raised funds for famine relief in Ethiopia. It was billed as a “global jukebox” and was held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London, attended by 72,000 people, and at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, attended by about 100,000 people. It was one of the largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time with an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion across 150 nations.
The Ethiopia famine of 2003 was the worst famine since the mid-1980s. Nearly one-fifth of the population was left without food, and thousands of people died from starvation and malnutrition. Members of the music industry once again came together with Live 8 to raise awareness of global poverty prior to the G8 conference 6-8 July 2005, hosting 10 concerts on 2 July 2005, and one concert on 6 July 2005. On 7 July, G8 leaders pledged to double the funds devoted to helping poor countries to $50 million by 2010, with half of the money earmarked for Africa. Kanye West was one of the Live 8 performers.
The poverty crisis continues today in many countries including ours. So, West Wind, how about a concert to help the approximately 16.1 million, 22% of children in the U.S., who live in poverty and are hungry?
There is more on music and Kanye, as well as thoughts on Rush Limbaugh and the Emmy Awards, on the shores of Rambling Harbor. I hope you’ll listen in.