Sunday, July 19, 2015
Peace, For a Chance
Song 260: For this week's playlist track, why not Give Peace a Chance by The Plastic Ono Band, written by John Lennon. While it might seem a bit soon to feature another Lennon song, having posted Ticket to Ride as Song 229, in light of the historic peace deal that the Obama administration, under the guiding hand of Secretary Kerry, has now reached with the Islamic Republic of Iran, I can think of no better song to fit this political moment. The pro-war contingent in Congress has vowed to do everything possible to scuttle this deal, so right now they really need to hear the message of this song. Actually, the entire D.C. government throng needs to hear it, regardless of party affiliation, position or ideology -- hear it, understand it and act on it, as if the future of humanity depended on it, because it very well might. Back in the middle of the summer of 1969, not long before my 18th birthday, I toured Europe for about a month with my high school singing group The Vestal Voices, and near the end of the tour we visited Venice, on Wednesday, 8/13, though we didn't perform there. When we split into smaller contingents, according to the tour rules, we were supposed to chaperone each other so that no one ended up walking around alone, but once again, as usual, my designated companions deserted me. I think they mostly wanted to get some alcohol, which I didn't care to do, but for whatever reason, I soon found myself exploring the streets of one more European city on my own, and while I have always had a good general sense of direction, this time, I did get lost. I had wanted to get beyond the touristy parts of the city, and I managed to do so, finding myself totally alone in an area that was a bit funky, and not at all like the picturesque Venice that graces most photographs of the famous city. I felt a touch of anxiety, not quite knowing where I was, but I had some time, and I expected that I'd find my way back to the group. As I walked along, I heard the sound of an acoustic guitar and John Lennon's voice coming from an upper-story window. About a week earlier, a bunch of us had located the latest Beatles single (The Ballad of John and Yoko/Old Brown Shoe) on a juke box in Munich, and listened to both sides, though the sound quality of the machine made it difficult to hear clearly. Now, here was another new Lennon recording, though it didn't exactly sound like a Beatles track. I liked it a lot on first hearing, even though at the time I still worried about dominoes falling near Viet Nam, and Lennon's view, as expressed in this song, seemed a bit simplistic and naive, but I still wanted to give peace a chance whenever possible. Over the years, as I have gained a deeper understanding of the causes of war, I have come around to John's POV. Meanwhile, not long after I heard this song, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the Bridge of Sighs, as I later wrote in my diary entry for the day. I didn't mention this track in my diary, but 46 years later, I remembered the song moment very well, and also being lost, but didn't recall the Bridge of Sighs until I read the diary. At any rate, over the next 2 months, we all need to strongly aim this message towards D.C. in whatever way we can convey it, because the future survival of humanity may very well depend on whether enough government people there make the right choice to give peace a chance.