27 Oct, 2008 Elected
The US elections are almost on us and of course I am as keen as anyone to know who will get through the doors of the Whitehouse.
Like many others I chuckled at the recent Saturday Night Live sketch that had ‘Bill Clinton’ singing ‘Don’t You Forget About Me”, I wonder nevertheless which camp will be in the mood to sing ‘Celebrate” come Election Day!
Some of course may say that US elections are purely an American thing and merit only a passing interest to the rest of us. But deep down due to the presence that America maintains on the international landscape, we all know that whoever wins the outcome of the presidential race becomes somewhat of a President to us all. Particularly so in the UK where our governments are very keen on maintaining what they term “the special relationship” with the US.
Let me make something clear here. In my heart I will always love America as I have experienced it. My wife was an American – a great one at that – and my daughter with her has a dual passport. My great grandparents emigrated with children from Scotland, arriving by boat like floods of other immigrants from all over the world. It is for that reason that on seeing The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island etc that a lump comes to my throat. It is for that reason I am always on the side of the immigrant. It is for those reasons that I feel my own fate through the bloodlines has been wrapped up as much by America as any other place.
Infatuated as a kid by characters such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, the great cities of America have produced so many wonderful artists such as Steinbeck, Hemmingway Hopper, Dylan, and never forgetting James Brown. All of them have shown me how to dream and how to think, while the vast landscapes and deserts of the country have filled me with spiritual reflection and a deep respect for the wisdom of the original natives who lived on those lands. But it was rock and roll that gave me wings to fly and that came out of America no less – albeit via African roots.
As I write this I am dressed in t-shirt and jeans and typing on a Mac PowerBook. I am all American on the surface if not to the core but if I watch an hour or so of TV this week, again it will be one of the brilliant American series that I will let myself get lost in.
Later today I will go jogging and in all probability listen to The Doors, a band who knew the nightmare that lay at the heart of the American dream, and sang so beautifully about it.
Furthermore I am looking forward immensely to visiting Bob Clearmountain in his Santa Monica studio when we go there in December to mix our album. Bob is a bona fide technical genius and that means our album will sound so much better that most others, thanks to both his and Bob Ludwig’s finishing touches. They just don’t come better than those two!
The point being is that we also to this day work in American studios, and by doing so I feel we take our music home to its initial roots. It feels so secure to be working in the same studio where the man who wrote ‘Born To Run’ – the greatest rock song ever – and so many other heart felt epics, spontaneously calls up to ask if he can borrow the studio for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon etc!
It also feel good in knowing with great certainty that we will play in front of American audiences on our next tour, many of whom gave us one of our biggest thrills when they propelled our music to the top of the Billboard charts. Not many artists have managed to do that! Then again not many have been blessed with the opportunities that came our way in America as well as so many other places around this big blue world.
Are there things about America or American culture that I do not like? Don’t get me started! Of course there are, as there are with Scottish culture or the Italian culture that I have been steeped in recently. But today is not the time for complaints. Today is where I wish and hope that Americans get a leadership without deception. A leader who at the very least has the courage to walk the talk, and a leader who lives up to the promises made.
From an international perspective I hope that they get someone in charge who can make sense of the world outside his own domicile. And a leader who can relaunch an honest America as a country that is once again confident with its considerable place in the world, without thinking that it needs to rule and always determine the outcome in places so distant from its own shores!
Putting all the party politics to the side for one second. I would say that right now American people need and deserve a genuinely good man as president, a man of intelligent diplomacy and a man that can inspire all and sundry through some tough times.
We all need that in fact!
pics by Hilko Nackaerts