Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Deal with Taxi Drivers and Good Music

So tonight I was watching television. A particular show in fact. This show would be the Hour on CBC Newsworld. Now, the Hour and George Stroumboulopoulos pretty much keep me up to speed on everything I need to know about what's going on outside (of the little bubble I live in). So the show closed with a little story about a man singing in a taxi. I guess I should some up the story before I go any further. I hope I recount this all right.

So there's a guy, on his way to the airport in a taxicab (perhaps it is yellow, but probably black). He's listening to his iPod, in particular a revolutionary song by the band the Clash. Whether you like it or not, you've probably heard of London Calling. Well, he's singing along and the driver decides the lyrics are a bitttt too revolutionary for him. So he checks in with the authorities, and this guy's pulled out of line at the airport cause ya'know, he might be a risk. A risk, for singing the lyrics to a damn good song in my opinion. Well, that's our story.

So, when I heard this I wasn't so much shocked as I was fascinated. Did our taxi driver have no taste in music? No sense of metaphor? Maybe he was holding a grudge against the Clash.. well I never will know. In my interpertation, these lyrics here, could be about war and fear, they could be about the future and society. Probably a little of all. But what I find fascinating is that our man, who could be any one, anyone in the entire world found himself a threat, a fear, because he was singing these revolutionary lyrics. These lyrics that could perhaps be about the fear that society has of rebellion and change, about the end of the world. About a broadcast of calm to a community in distress. The Clash wrote these lyrics more than 25 years ago. I wonder what Joe Strummer would think about this if he were alive today? I can't answer that. I was talking to my dad about this and seeing if he had some more insight. He told me, "The good musicians are poets, and you will notice some poets are the canaries in our coalmines". No, they do not actually die. But I think in some ways, our poets can detect change before it happens to us. They are not our news reporters, who tell us what is happening now, but they are the ones who can tell us what can happen in the future. They have a voice, and usually a very entertaining one at that. That's one thing I really enjoy about music. I'm definitely not saying that music should be all about politics, but I am saying that some of the best songs open our eyes to things that we really need to learn about. I salute the Clash for being the canary in our coal mine.

And I think on a trip to Heathrow airport I might've been listening to that very song. And perhaps, I was even singing along.

Thank god I was on the underground.

hilary m.

here's a little something to consider, from our friends the Clash.

London calling to the faraway towns
Now that war is declared-and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls
London calling, now don't look at us
All that phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain't got no swing
'Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing

The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
Engines stop running and the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error, but I have no fear
London is drowning-and I live by the river

London calling to the imitation zone
Forget it, brother, an' go it alone
London calling upon the zombies of death
Quit holding out-and draw another breath
London calling-and I don't wanna shout
But when we were talking-I saw you nodding out
London calling, see we ain't got no highs
Except for that one with the yellowy eyes

The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
Engines stop running and the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error, but I have no fear
London is drowning-and I live by the river

Now get this
London calling, yeah, I was there, too
An' you know what they said? Well, some of it was true!
London calling at the top of the dial
After all this, won't you give me a smile?
I never felt so much a' like.....

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