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May 27, 1981 - Image 8

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1981-05-27

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0

pinion

Page 8
The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCI, No. 15-S
Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
A useless frill?
L AST WEEK Hudson Ladd gave his fina
concert on the Burton Tower Carillon.
For ten years the University carillon
neur-and acknowledged as the finest prac
titioner of his art in America-Ladd was sum
marily dismissed from his position effectiv
June 30th-one day before he would havi
gained defacto tenure at Michigan. He depart
the latest and perhaps most visible victim of th
University's ongoing budget wars.
Ladd's sin was not one of incompetence or in
subordination, but rather-in the University',
view-of extraneousness: We need new North
Campus parking lots and flagstone walks at th(
Law Quad-a carillonneur we can do without.
Perhaps .one individual shouldn't count fo
much at a time when entire University depar
tments stand in peril of elimination; frugalit
has become the byword of both nation an
state, and the long shadow of Robert Tisch
casts a pall over any University frills.
Yet how does one define a frill? Hudson
Ladd's music brought pleasure to thousands o:
listeners; his extraordinary grasp of both
classical and popular idioms provided endless
delights to the ear and the mind. Who can say
with authority that such an art is less valuable
to humankind than that of law or engineering?
There is increasing, ominous mindstate ex
tending from Washington outward, which belit
tles the so-called "soft" professions as un
necessary to our national vitality. Yet without
the humanizing touch of art, society would soon
evolve into a sterile, spartan nightmare of drab
repetition. Is such "practical" sacrifice really
practical?
THE ADVENTURES OF THE AMAZING
Faster than a
spendthrift budget!
More powerful than J
a lavish liberal
Able to leap tall
Dernocrats in a
single vote,

Wednesday, May 27, 1981

The Michigan Daily

The chat
By Pamela Douglas
LOS ANGELES - "Get up,
stand up - Stand up for your
rights."
The seven little children heard
the song fromtthe bandstand and
jumped up singing:
"Get up, stand up for
your rights.
"Get up, stand up - Don't
give up thefight."
i They knew the words to lots of
Bob Marley's reggae songs and
"It will stay with them
throughout their lives," said Gael
*Davis, a Los Angeles actress. She
- calls herself the "auntie" to a
e group of children raised on
e reggae. "When you talk to
S them," she says, "you realize
e they have insights other children
don't have. They're singing his song
about dignity."
- "Bob Marley lives!" proclaims
S the banner across the stage. And
to Gael Davis, to the children, to
the thousands of mainly black
people attending a memorial
concert in Los Angeles' MacAr-
r thur Park, there was little sense
that, in fact, he had died a
week before.
y "Bob no dead! Bob no dead!"
chanted men in long Rastafarian
ddreadlocks from the stage. A
spirit was very much alive, so
new is seemed not quite to have
f jelled here yet.
MARLEY'S JAMAICAN
followers called him a prophet,
and a black group in Chicago
named him the "redeemer." In
1979, the United Nations awarded
him a medal for hiswork toward
world peace. And when the
African nation of Zimbabwe won
- its independence, it was Bob
Marley who was invited to
headline the national celebration.
It was no surprise that most
radio stations in the United States
refused to play his songs. Said
Gael Davis, "His heaviest
message is for black people, and
And conquered
nly by the
Geriatric Juggernaut.
-6 m t

nt: 'Bob no dead!'

I

the owners aren't interested in us
receiving that message."
Ironically, the radio blackout
had the effect of pushing him
directly into the arms of the
people throughthis frequent tours
and concerts. Marley made per-
sonal visits to Watts, and other
poor areas. A child of Tren-
chtown, the shanty slum of
Kingston, Jamaica, he knew the
anguish and the dreams of the

Marley was attracted partly by
spirituality, and by his mystical
use of rhythms and chants whose
origins are deep in Africa's
culture. In Marley's reggae, it's
not only the lyrics but the echo of
ritual drumming from his
Rastafariani religion that is so
compelling. In Rastafarian
music, the downbeat of the
drummer symbolizes the depth of
the oppressive society, but it is
answered by the akette drum-
mers with a lighter up-beat, a
resurrection of the society
through the power of the Holy
Spirit. This is not the music of
adoration, but the music of in-
vocation. It is a call to Africa.
-Yet reggae in America has
proved little more than another
new beat to be commercially ex-
ploited. Since stations would not
play Marley's original versions of
his songs, they became known
through tamer renditions like
Eric Clapton's "I Shot The
Sheriff."
In. Marley's "Sheriff," the
lyrics not only defended fighting
back against the police, but, even
more, suggested the desperation
that makes violence inevitable.
The popular hit on radio may
retain the basic reggae beat, but
as a young musician at the
memorial concert commended:
"They turned it into a cowboy
song; they made itncountry rock.
When you hear the version on the
radio, you don't know what
Marley was saying. It's like the
meaning was cut out."
Sabu Zawadi, a jazz
saxophonist, agreed: "They don't
really understand the African
origin of reggae, so they play only
what they hear. They're taking
reggae ina different direction."
IT'S NOT surprising that
reggae's purest expression
should come from the Caribbean.
Unlike the United States, where
slavery lasted hundreds of years
and people of African descent
were in the minority, blacks in
the West Indies swiftly became
the majority population, and
slavery on some of the islands
was eradicated in one generation.
Garnett feels, "Caribbean
people are the way we were in the
'60s, ready for revolution. They'll
have a big influence on black
Americans because they're so
strong in their African culture,
their positive spirituality, and
their unity."
What Bob Marley brought to
this readiness was not further
analysis. Rather, he began to
make the global viewpoint ac-
cessible to the common man, to
people who had troubles at home.
Suddenly, for those who heard
him, there was company beyond
the borders, a harmony going
back to the roots.
Pamela Douglas, A screen-
writer and journalist, wrote
this story for Pacific News
Service. -

Bob Marley.
oppressed and gave voice to them
throughout the world. The con-
nection was too deep for even a
media blockade to prevent.
Marley alwasy connected with
American black music, growing
up listening to rhythm and blues
on the radio. When he moved to
the U.S. in the mod-1960s and
went to work at an auto assembly
plant, his feeling for the
American black experience
deepened.
YET MARLEY'S following was
greatest outside the United
States, attracting sellout crowds
from the Caribbean to Italy,
Japan and Africa. Madea Gar-
nett, wife of Marley's American
manager, says, "He had a foun-
dation, a movement, a cause; he
had laws. He was not just out
there being an anarchist,
rebelling. In a time when the
truth can die - because of all the
wars, deceptions, famines, greed.
and confusion-it is important for
the truth to stay alive. Evil is
waging its last battle on earth.
We (Rastafarians) are rebels for
the Lord."
The ,international movement
ita6d begun gathering around }

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