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Former Genesis front man Peter Gabriel backs Catalunya protest movement
EX-GENESIS front man Peter Gabriel has ceded the rights to his song In Your Eyes to the Catalunya National Assembly (ANC) allowing them to use it, along with its protest-filled video, for their planned international campaign.
Gabriel, who turned 69 just three days ago, stunned the music world and his millions of fans when he left the much-loved soft-rock band nearly 44 years ago, sparking speculation as to whether Genesis would survive – but now, almost two generations of adults have only ever known the group with Phil Collins as its lead singer, and Peter has enjoyed a successful solo career.
A staunch left-wing activist and advocate for equality and fairness, Gabriel was awarded the Man of Peace Prize in 2006 after the seventh Nobel Peace Laureates’ summit, presented by ex-Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and Roman mayor Walter Veroni as a tribute to his extensive work to promote human rights.
In Your Eyes, released in 1986, featuring legendary Senegalese artist Youssou N’Dour singing a verse in his home country’s co-official language, Wolof, was part of Gabriel’s fifth solo album, So, and made it to number one in the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number 26 of the Billboard Hot 100, but was never released as a single in the artist’s home country, the UK.
Using the original song, the international ANC campaign #Makeamove comes in the shape of a video featuring footage of the suffragettes, anti-Apartheid protests - including Nelson Mandela in jail - the US homosexual community during the time when same-sex relations were a crime punishable by prison, the peaceful movement of Mahatma Ghandi, and the falling of the Berlin Wall.
ANC chairwoman Elisenda Paluzie says these are comparable with, and deserve the same support as, the Catalunya cause.
A remake of the song, retitled in Catalán as Als Teus Ulls, is performed in English, Catalán and Spanish.
The vocalists on the video include Lluís Llach, 70, a singer, songwriter, pianist and guitarist who formerly fronted the band Els Setze Jutges (‘The 16 Judges’) and was part of a censorship-defying movement during Franco’s dictatorship which continued to promote, release and perform songs in the Catalán language even though use of the vernacular was a criminal offence at the time.
Gemma Humet, 30, an up-and-coming pop artist and pianist who sings entirely in Catalán, Colombian rock vocalist Mario Muñoz, 40, who heads up the band Doctor Krápula, and the globally-famous Joan Báez, 78 (second picture, from the Als Teus Ulls video).
New York-born Báez, half-Mexican and half-Scottish – whose mum and dad lived to be 100 and 95 respectively – is often said to be the number one voice of the North American protest song; her powerful, soprano-esque voice, folk rock and country music style fleshed out compositions railing against the Vietnam war and calling for social justice, human rights, an end to violence, civil rights, and protection for the environment.
A 1960s’ icon, Joan Báez performed three of her protest songs at the 1969 Woodstock Festival and helped promote the work of Nobel Literature Prize winner Bob Dylan in the USA.
Now, her voice is one of four that recreate Peter Gabriel’s vocals in a bid to ‘explain to the world’ about the Catalunya cause, the reasons for the disputed referendum on October 1, 2017, and the upheaval that followed.
Spain’s government, led by the right-wing PP at the time, would not allow a referendum or even discuss the issue, saying it would go against the Spanish Constitution which bans any action that may threaten the ‘unity’ of the country.
This refusal to embark on open dialogue has led to an ‘us-and-them’ situation which the current president, Pedro Sánchez, sought to redress when he came into power on June 2, 2018, but his efforts have been met with opposition from the right-wing, who consider him to be in cahoots with the separatists and advocate punishment, control and authority instead, and also with the separatists themselves, who will not let up until Sánchez allows a legal and binding referendum on independence.
The first picture shows Peter Gabriel in 2018 (left, Wikimedia Commons) and in 1986 on the video for In Your Eyes (PeterGabriel.com).
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