This article is from the (RED) edition of The Independent, guest-edited for 16 May 2006 by Bono. Half the revenue from the edition will be donated to the Global Fund to Fight Aids.
You Write the Reviews: American Life, by Elvis Costello
Tuesday 16 May 2006
"Affect everything, effect nothing" might be our motto. Indignation, piety, sympathy or outrage are all interchangeable postures in the Commedia dell'Arte of television. Thank heaven for the off switch.
Mornings are stained by morality plays and parables of eugenics, cynically promoting the idea that poor people are inherently stupid and breed without any discretion. Evenings are haunted by tragic, self-publicising freaks, clinging to any whiff of infamy in a funhouse version of "reality". It is at times like this that any human voice becomes valuable. Some are very well known but come in disguises, others are more unexpected.
Now here is Madeleine Albright, talking to Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. She's being wonderfully indiscreet about a recent White House gathering of past Secretaries of State and Defence. Apparently, Junior's response to this assembled resource of experience and differing perspectives was to stick his fingers in his ears and hum.
Two weeks ago, I was side-stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, watching a set by the contemporary gospel singer Yolanda Adams. Irma Thomas, the "Queen of New Orleans Soul", is also there listening. When Yolanda begins her sensational closing number, "Victory", Irma jumps to her feet, shadowing every line. It is hard to know which performance is more joyful.
A small plane flew over the festival site trailing a banner. It was greeted with cheers of approval from the citizens of that abandoned city. It said, "Impeach Bush". Now here is Neil Young, singing a similar sentiment on Living with War. He uses the same pattern of chords and fuzz-tones that he has applied to any sentiments he has needed to deliver with swift force. It's just another kind of folk music. Yesterday, I watched Heart of Gold, Jonathan Demme's wonderful concert film of Neil , recorded following the release of Prairie Wind. The film catches the quiet dread and hopefulness of the songs and illustrates the deceptive complexity of this largely acoustic music. It also captures an invigorated artist who has recently confronted the actuality of his own mortality.
Now here is Bob Dylan on his Theme Time Radio Hour on XM Satellite radio. Sunday brought a special show for Mother's Day (celebrated on 14 May in the US), but this is no sentimental journey - he is playing everything from Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" to L L Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out". He delivers a listener's e-mail with the cadence of one of his own songs. The correspondent requests a record for his "hammerhead of a mother-in-law", who, he writes, "disparages me, depreciates me, downgrades me, dismisses me".
Dylan cues up Ernie K Doe's "Mother-in-Law".
E-mail your 500-word review of an arts event of your choice to email@example.com
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 3 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 4 The most powerful passports in the world
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove