"Gordon Brown has missed the point of my song"

Tim Booth,Singer,James
Friday 26 September 2008 00:00
Comments

We have always been supportive of the Labour Party, as well as Greenpeace, Amnesty and CND, but obviously the machinations of a desperate politician trying to restore unity by using our song is not something we are totally behind. The Labour Party has become quite similar to the Conservative party and it's hard to tell the difference between the two these days, it's certainly not as clear cut as it used to be.

There are some real ironies in the lyrics of "Sit Down", which was played just before Gordon Brown spoke to his conference this week. "Those who find they're touched by madness/Sit down next to me/Those who find themselves ridiculous/Sit down next me." That would have been a nice irony if they had played that line and he had put his hand up. And then there's, "If I hadn't seen such riches/I could live with being poor". That looks like it will become a popular catchphrase in America and in Britain thanks to the stupidity of financial deregulation.

The song is about unity and that's obviously how Brown is trying to use it. But it's about unity of people and spirit rather than healing the divisions of political parties. That's kind of missing the point.

Manchester United have used it as their theme tune for years and still do. Once it's out there, it's out there and you let go of it. But it's really more of a Sixties "We Shall Overcome" type song. I think that's where its spiritual home is, a song of feeling alone and wanting to reach out. It's written from a deeper place. I used to get terrible insomnia and panic attacks and it was written as a thank you to Doris Lessing and Patti Smith, the two people who had most inspired me and helped me feel like I wasn't alone. It's about the ability of music to reach out to people in dark states.

If the Labour Party started using it regularly we would have to have some words but as a one off, that's life, isn't it? I would be deeply proud if Barack Obama used it – but that's a different issue.

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