Acts of kindness

Anyone who knows me well will know that one of the things I like to do to relax is to listen to music — I particularly enjoy discovering artists unknown to me, and I like that I can listen to 30 seconds of their songs at iTunes and then if they get me, it’s likely I’ll go buy the song (or perhaps find it somewhere). I’ve found some great music over the years doing that and I think when people look at my collection in my iTunes on the Mac, they have no idea who I am listening to. I give thanks to my ex-wife for this — it was she who introduced me to this fun time — many times we would sit on the couch, drinking coffee, appreciating the diversity of music available. One of her favourite things to pass some time was to make cds with various combinations — she said it was what she did when she was stressed and I can attest that this was her “thing”. Some people drink, others run a marathon — she made music cds for friends and family. Great memories!

So here I am sitting posting to my blog about this. The title of the blog is acts of kindness, and I came across some just now as I was listening to new music. Michael Stipe (frontman for REM) created the In the Sun Foundation in late 2006:

More than five months later, many are still displaced by the devastating effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita with no relief imminent, and yet, the news cycle has moved on, taking our focus, as a nation, away from something which still should be at the center of our attention. In this spirit, Stipe felt moved to join others who have remained dedicated to the cause, reminding the public in his own way, through music, that there is still an incredible amount of work to be done: ‘Things are not fine. The storm is still impacting people’s lives in very real ways and many have been left desperate. I want to remind each of us that as humans, and certainly as Americans, it is our responsibility to help those in need… I had to do something as a public figure. The one thing I can do is sing, and it’s probably the best way to get people to pay attention.‘ To that end, Stipe recorded a charity EP featuring six versions of a song, In the Sun, which the singer hoped would remind the public of the continued suffering of survivors of Hurricane Katrina. All proceeds would go directly to Mercy Corps, an international humanitarian agency, via the In The Sun Foundation, to aid those in the Gulf Coast affected by the August tragedy. ‘No matter where you go in the world, people are the best agents of their own recovery in situations like this,‘ said Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer. ‘Michael and everyone he mobilizes to buy the song are investing in the people of the Gulf Coast, giving them the resources they need to get back on their feet.‘ “

So I came across those 6 versions of In the Sun, and was blown away by the richness of the sound, the lyrics and the emotions that were worked over. I lived in the USA during a tumultuous period in her history: the Clinton administration; the rise of Bush and the equal slide of the country as a result; 9/11 — perhaps the most horror I have ever experienced; the aftermath of that event, which really did change the fabric of American society; Hurricane Katrina and the pathetic “rescue” provided by the Bush administration; the invasion of Iraq and subsequent monumental loss of human lives and destruction of a country and its culture and traditions.

The lyrics to the version I like the most (Stipe, Chris Martin and Coldplay):

I picture you in the sun wondering what went wrong
And falling down on your knees asking for sympathy
And being caught in between all you wish for and all you seen
And trying to find anything you can feel that you can believe in

May god’s love be with you
May god’s love be with you

I know I would apologize if I could see your eyes
’cause when you showed me myself I became someone else
But I was caught in between all you wish for and all you need
I picture you fast asleep
A nightmare comes
You can’t keep awake

May god’s love be with you
May god’s love be with you

’cause if I find
If I find my own way
How much will I find
If I find
If I find my own way
How much will I find

I don’t know anymore
What it’s for
I’m not even sure
If there is anyone who is in the sun
Will you help me to understand
’cause I been caught in between all I wish for and all I need
Maybe you’re not even sure what it’s for
Any more than me

May god’s love be with you
May god’s love be with you

I continually hear the Bush administration going after singers and actors, calling them ineffective (among other names) — yet here we have another example of what they can do and do often.


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