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
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 Botched ice bucket challenge leaves man critically injured after plane drops hundreds of gallons of water
Great British Bake Off 2014: Diana Beard quits after falling ill
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Homer Simpson takes the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he does
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Great British Bake Off embroiled in Baked Alaska 'sabotage' scandal
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >