linkthink re: hip-hop, reggae, the US, jamaica, and anything else wayne wants to wax on


we went dancing every day, frankly

it's now been three years since the US invaded iraq.

back in the spring of 2003, i watched the countdown to war and the bombs over baghdad from my living room in kingston. it was an odd remove for a bloodclaat american like myself.

so it came as a true comfort one evening, as becca and i cooked up some curry chickpeas - one of our many bastardized creative jamaican recipes - to hear a heavy boston accent speaking of war with wisdom.

here's what i wrote at the time in our fledgling blog:
a few weeks ago, as the drums of war beat on, the BBC aired a piece on a 106-year-old veteran of the first world war. becca and i often listen to the radio while cooking dinner, and sometimes the BBC is the most engaging thing on the air. we were drawn into this particular segment for a couple reasons. for one thing, the veteran was, like me, an italian-american from massachusetts, who, unlike me, had an impeccably deep boston accent. what drew our interest most strongly, however, was the man's uncanny resemblance to mel brooks's "2000-year-old man" - a hilarious imagining of the world's oldest man as a jew with a new york accent, a penchant for glib responses, and a love of nectarines.

anthony pierro, the 106-year-old veteran, responded to his interviewer's questions in a brooks-esque manner, complete with interjections of "oh boy," a preoccupation with girls and sex, and an ability to make war - as brooks does with ancient history - seem hilariously mundane. (compare "we were in the woods" with "banging on rocks.")

aside from the charming humor of mr. pierro's responses, i was also impressed by the texture he gives to life during war. his emphasis on daily life and romance expresses a need to go on with life even as the world collapses around you. "dancing every day" perhaps says it best. his common-sensical argument for respecting the power of the united nations to resolve international conflicts reminds us how much the bush administration has undermined an important process toward peace.
recently, as talk in the news has turned to this anniversary, i've been thinking again about the piece and how much i liked hearing this 100+year-old veteran stating his rather reasonable, commonsensical ideas about conflict and happiness. i was happy to learn, while composing this post, that mr.pierro is now 110 and still going strong! (just shows what dancing every day can do for you.)

at the time, i liked the piece so much that i sampled it - i was recording the radio a lot those days - and put a beat under the vocals in order to give them a slightly more suggestive setting than the buzz of the refrigerator and the sizzle of the stove. this is how i described the process and the product:
i was only able to get part of the interview on tape, as i was a little too late to recognize how priceless a piece it was. from this recording, i selected various snippets in an attempt to represent the interview faithfully, but also to condense it and represent it in musical form. the beat over which i have layered the vocal samples is based on a twenties-era jazz sample, variously filtered, and i think its mix of past and present fits the interview samples well.

i admit that i conclude the piece a tad heavy-handedly, but i cannot resist underscoring the irony that a veteran of the "war that was supposed to end all wars" has not only had to live through another eighty years of conflict but will have to spend the december of his life watching hyper-real footage not of shells bouncing innocuously off trees but of bombs devastating baghdad. the song ends with a recording of my television set, transmitting the sounds of bunker-busting explosions directly into my living room on the first night of gulf war II.

i do my duty.
(guess i was wrong about that "december" part: quite sorry to have said that--but quite happy to've been wrong!) any rate, here it is again, for your contemplation and enjoyment:

wayne&wax (ft. anthony pierro), "the hundred-year-old veteran"


[cross posted to riddimmethod]


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