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 firstname.lastname@example.org
The best TV shows and films coming to the servicetv
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
- 2 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 3 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Spectre: Director Sam Mendes teases clips from upcoming James Bond movie
Indian Summers recommissioned: Channel 4 confirm a second series of British Empire drama
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
The Casual Vacancy finale review: Superb cast, luscious cinematography - shame about the confused ending
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut