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Hello, Hello! Bonjour, Bonjour!

July 21, 2006

I’ve been listening to Michael Franti’s new album, Yell Fire and I think it’s great. The reggae influence on this album is much more prominent than on his other albums. In 2004, Franti traveled throughout Iraq, Palestine and Israel to see what he says was the human cost of war. The album doesn’t have one dull or depressing song on it though which struck me – everyone he met, all ordinary people wanted peace… So what do you get? An album of peace songs. Fancy that – people wanting peace. My favourite song thus far is “Hello Bonjour”. Some excerpts:

I don’t need a passport to walk on this earth
Anywhere I go ’cause I was made of this earth
Born of this earth, I breathe of this earth
And even with the pain I believe in this earth

and

Don’t tell a man that he can’t come here
‘Cause he got brown eyes and a wavy kind of hair,
And don’t tell a woman that she can’t go there
‘Cause she prays a little different to her god up there,
You say you’re a Christian ’cause god made you,
You say you’re a Muslim ’cause god made you,
You say you’re a Hindu and the next man a Jew
And we all kill each other ’cause god told us to? NO!
Hello, hello! Bonjour, bonjour! Hola, hola! Konnichiwa, konnichiwa wa!

Franti’s songs of protest, peace, rebellion and resistance have been a source of great comfort for me and I’m sure many others over the last few years as things have turned rather sour around the world and there have been nothing but dark days. This album comes at a time when again, we are facing more uncertainty as Israel and Hezbollah shoot, bomb, maim, injure, torture, scare and brutalise the humanity out of each other and perpetuate retribution and war for… well… who really knows? As I listened to this album in the dark last night, I was reminded of the power of art, music and poetry to connect people and give them hope – even in the darkest of days. It reminded me of a passage that I read in a zine around 5 or 6 years ago. I don’t know who the author of the zine was – I picked up a copy at uni, but it has stuck with me ever since and was resonating through my head last night as I had just finished watching the news and started listening to Yell Fire:

ART is the last frontier.
ART is both the pacifier and the protagonist.
It is important that we embrace ART in our lives in any way we can.

I concur.

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4 comments

  1. I just saw these guys for the first time this weekend at Grassroots Festival in Trumansburg NY. Walk, don’t run, to their nearest show. Buy every CD.


  2. Tickets for their show here in Sydney go on sale this Friday. I’ll be online first thing in the morning to get one. They play here in September. They’ve come to Australia so many times, but I have never actually seen them – I’ve always had something on that can’t be missed or I’ve been out of Sydney when they’ve played there – but I’m not going to miss them this time!


  3. Bummer, couldn’t get tickets to the Sydney show – there were only single tickets left and I wanted to go with my partner. So, we’re going to make the trek to Canberra – hopefully the venue may be a little more intimate anyway. Can’t wait – 26th September – Franti and Spearhead – yay!


  4. i absolutely love michael franti and spearhead. i just saw them preform in lake tahoe, nevada and it was amazing. if they are preforming near you you MUST go see them. the documentary that he made about iraq is really eye opening. hello bonjour is one of my favorite songs too! peace and much love to you whoever, wherever you are



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