Concert of Tom Waits Songs and Australian Politics

Last week I went to a concert of Tom Waits songs performed by Stewart D’Arrietta. He was accompanied by a band made up of some of the finest musicians around – Ross Hannaford of the Daddy Cool fame, Philip Rex -one of the most brilliant Australian Double Bassists and Danny Fischer – drummer extraordinaire.

For a show of Tom Waits music performed by someone other than Tom Waits, it was a pretty good show. To borrow the lyrics of “The Real Slim Shady”:

Who dress like me; walk, talk and act like me
It just might be the next best thing but not quite me!

The band was fantastic, and Stewart had the audience totally captivated. I was really enjoying it, up to the point later in a night where D’Arrietta decided to stop the show and impart on the audience his views on Australian Governments’ policy concerning illegal immigrants. According to him, all immigrants coming by boats really want to work here and be a part of our society, and all we need to do is let them in, give them some land around Bourke and Australia will rip the benefits. Clearly, D’Arrietta has an agenda to push, and isn’t really concerned about the facts. The facts are, that more than 60 per cent of refugees to Australia have failed to get a job after five years. Another fact is that more than 60 per cent of those people without jobs had a poor command of English.

Australian Parliament

Australian Parliament

 

Regardless of all the facts, I find it absolutely appalling that musicians use the stage to promote their views and agendas. If I wanted to get engaged in a political debate, I would’ve gone to a political rally, or turned on Parliament Question Time on TV.

 

 

 

So in an unlikely event that D’Arrietta will read this blog – a word of advise: mate, when you are up on a stage, unless you have lyrics of Tom Waits coming out of your mouth, please- keep your gob shut.

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What’s common between Aussie Rules Grand Final and Illegal Immigrants?

Like most Australians, I was glued to the TV today, watching the Holy Grail of the Aussie Rules. Both teams showed true premierships qualities, played good game of football and provided plenty of entertainment. In a tradition clearly borrowed from the American Super Bowl, we even were treated to a half-time entertainment show from an Australian legends, Hunters & Collectors.

Aussie Rules Grand Final is no place for politics

Aussie Rules Grand Final is no place for politics

And that was the point at which I just had to say: I am not a whinger, BUT…..what the hell was Mark Seymour thinking when he decided to put on that t-shirt saying “asylum seekers”? He has an opinion about illegal immigrants? Good for him! Now take that opinion and shove it where sun don’t shine, because I’m not interested in it. Here’s a news for you: AFL didn’t pay you for your political views. They paid you to come out and sing a couple of songs. If anyone ever will become interested in your views on Australian politics, you would get an invite onto different kind of show, where people talk about politics, not sports or music.

Unfortunately, this is not a single case, for performers all over the world make dubious choice of hijacking a musical stage to drive a political agenda. Today it was Hunters & Collectors, before them it was Jamie Foxx and Dixie Chicks, Pussy Riot and Madonna. Now, don’t get me wrong – I am not against expressing political views through music. Just look at the history of another Aussie legend – the Midnight Oil. Their songs are as political as they get, they never minced their words, making very clear where they stood on any given issue. When you went to their concert, or bought their CD, you knew exactly what you were getting. They’ve come up with a whole lot of hits, true Aussie anthems, and they did it while being honest about their views.

Don't talk to me about politics, go back to snorting coke

Don’t talk to me about politics, go back to snorting coke

So here’s a bit of advice to all those actors, singers, musicians who feel compelled to impose their political views on the rest of the world…..DON’T. Just because you have (or think you have) a talent in one area, doesn’t mean you understand anything about what else is happening in a world. So why don’t you do us all a favour, and go back to singing, dancing, snorting coke, or whatever else you occupy yourself with.