Music is- Emerging thoughts with lyrics from Gianmaria Testa- Modern migration and musics’ potential contribution

Gianmaria Testa was an extraordinary Italian singer and songwriter. Born in a province of Cuneo in 1958 he was raised by an artistic family of agriculturists, with a strong passion for music. Gianmaria Testa died in Alba in 2016. His success and work is an example for cross-cultural and transnational art and thought: He was a singer songwriter and railway worker, discovered in France, with his passion and heart grown in Italy. Gianmaria Testa dedicated a fair amount of notion and words to refugees and the modern migration.


1)Gianmaria Testa

He left  rhythms, melodies and words full of poetry and play behind, revealing a delicate and precise view of what life and humanity means to him. Many of his songs tell us listeners about migration and witness the importance of it. They tell us about escape, arrival, flee, adoption, hopes and delusions as well as nostalgia. These topics have  been and still are of great relevance throughout human history.

     His concept album ‘Da questa parte del mare’  – which translates into ‘On this side of the sea’ and was published in 2006, is committed to modern migration and its crisis implied, the human crisis of the story, not political and bureaucratic only. It describes personal challenges as well as social bias we as humans encounter facing the phenomenon of migration now-a-days and have probably always encountered during bigger population shifts.

Referring to this exact album in 2015 Falk Häfner, a journalist of ‘BR-Klassik’ asked Testa whether he thinks that the European reaction to modern migration and all the issues that come along with it happened to late. It is pretty unconceivable how ignorant most parts of Europe were about what was going on around Italian shores way back. It was only raff 10 years after Testas’ album was released, that the awareness among European leaders and responsible institutions has significantly increased.

The concept album ‘On this side of the sea’ describes people who take a boat for crossing the Mediterranean Sea hoping to recover from their past and start fresh on the other side of the sea. It is this other side of the sea the ‘teller of the story’, Gianmaria testa seems to be neither on nor off. Meanwhile the public discourse around refugees developed due to the increasing urgency. It was the augmented arrival of refugees in northern European states, that were almost ‘spared’ from ‘floods of refugees’ for geographical reasons in the preceding years, that woke the sleeping dogs. To be ‘spared’ from ‘floods of refugees’ is an expression common and frequently used all over European tabloids and broadsheets, as well as national TV-news reporting on modern migration. Such expressions attribute negative associations to asylum seekers and refugees and are far off hand. They compare those people to incontrollable forces of nature such as floods and implicitly suggest they are a ‘catastrophe’ a country which’s borders are not on the sea side can be spared of. Such associations and linguistic failures cause gross misinterpretation of a wholly different situation.


2) Concept album “Da questa parte del mare”

Contrasting this inappropriate conception given to us by mass media, Gianmaria Testas’ wording in his songs entails a human, deep and more just conception of issues regarding migration. He emphasises the vulnerability of the asylum seeking crowd rather than illustrating them as a ‘problem to be solved’, or ‘seeking’ people, trying to find access to ‘our’ Europe.

I grant this article to the art with which Testa enriched the music scene in 2006:       The discographic work and album ‘Da questa parte del mare’ or ‘On this side of the sea’ by taking a closer look to the lyrics and possible perceptions of some lines.

One of musics’ many amenities is its rhythmic and semantic structure which often contains messages that can be analised restrospectively. Those messages  involve crucial aspects and aim a deeper understanding of the tenor processed within the music. I asked myself why Gianmaria Testa sang about modern migration the way he did. Probably for giving a voice, his voice, to people who for various reasons do not have either voices to speak nor legal rights to act the way he does in the world he grew up in and lived in when he composed the lyrics and those persons were entering it in a struggle. With his music Testa contributed to fight the absent-mindedness regarding refugees in Europe and all over the world and it is therefor especially worthwhile listening to.

In addition to this motivation singing about migration and escape can remind everyone of us the deep need that ignites both actions in the heart of anyone who desires to start over in search of a reality that is congruent with a ‘decent living’. The pursuit of less than happiness, just the basic needs and instruments needed to create life.

Referring to his 2006 album Gianmaria Testa stated: ‘I talk about intuitive racism even inherent in children, that is racism toward any diversity. This notion needs to be combated with intelligence and reasoning. I understand the (racism) of Italians, including my very own sense of irritation coming up some time. I understand it and can explain it to myself, but I do not accept it. Those are approaches that differ greatly: I understand it thinking it is not just to have it (the racism) and that it is ought to be contrasted and combated somehow.’ (translated after Antonio Piccolo 2007). For contrasting this distinct racism Testa composed and sang:

‘In the depth of the profound sea I leave my chant that doesn’t console, for who has departed and lost himself to the world in the profound sea’ (translated from Gianmaria Testa ‘Infondo al mare’).  He sings addressing all people lost to the sea and the world. Ultimately those lines involve a broader understanding that goes beyond literal perception only. They can be read regarding the derogatory labelled ‘illegal immigrants’ as well as referring to any other person who feels lost. For Gianmaria Testa being part of the planet Earth was a resemblance of peace and quiet. A peace and quiet very distinct from the dispersion represented in his lyrics. Digging your hands deep into the earth, something Testa often did while growing up in a family of agriculturists, gave him a sense of home and belonging (Häfner 2015). It is this sense of sinking your very own hands into the earth and feeling its roots naturally, that has nothing to do with national and artificial categories.

In the song entitled ‘Ritals’- ‘Rituals’, Gianmaria Testas conveys the phenomenon of loss, pursuit and return to consciousness in a more concrete manner: ‘And yet we too knew the smell of the cargo hold, the bitter smell of leaving We too knew [there’d be] a language to unlearn and a new language to acquire in a haste, before [learning to ride] a bicycle’ ( translated from Gianmaria Testa,’Ritals’). This musical expression reminds on who was obliged to leave a place in bitterness and reluctantly, in pursuit of something better. The song recounts the initial obstacles this anonymous group of people encounters after having reached the other side of the sea: learning a new language, unlearning their first language possibly. The first moves of integration. Singing ‘Yet we knew’ Testa experiments empathy including himself in this state of transition. For people who have never had to escape and adopt to a new environment leaving behind everything that was once called ‘home’ to them, it is hard to imagine this transitional state of mind. Words and thus language is an aid for putting us in contact to conceptions out of the ordinary.

Such Lyrics demonstrates the innate potential that lies in music, of transmitting ostensibly alien conceptions to anyone who listens to them. Music is a form of power, an act of communication that can deliver atmospheres sometimes filling the void of words in newspapers, television or other media of communication, censured or confined by other means.

There are countless grounds to which musicians dedicate their voices. A point in case is described in an article published by ‘The Guardian’ in 2015: ‘When rap raged against racism- 2015 and the black protest anthem’ . This article is about rap music used as means for protest giving space to the dissent toward the ongoing and everlasting racism in the United States of America in particular. Rap music thereby enforces the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement- a movement created to reinforce and acknowledge the value of black peoples’ lives,  a movement toward justice. Hip hop and rap plays a fundamental role as an instrument of participation and political rebellion on an artistic level. Musically charged revolts are treasurable and discerning new genres like Maria Testas’ song writing illustrates the versatile outcomes of musics’ potential. The political being of arts.



sources:, Gianmaria Testa , testi e canzoni


Br Klassik, Falk Häfner : Gianmaria Teta gestorben(2015), Antonio Piccolo (2007) ; testo “Una barca scura”, testo “Ritals”


Thanks to Monica Cavaliere, my cousin for having a look over myoriginal Italian article.






Musica è Inondare i pensieri con testi di Gianmaria Testa- migrazione moderna e il potenziale della musica

Gianmaria Testa era un cantautore italiano straordinario. Nato nel 1958 in provincia di Cuneo in una famiglia di agricoltori in cui era vivissimo l’amore per la musica, morto ad Alba nel 2016.  Il successo di Gianmaria Testa  stesso dà un esempio per l’oltrepassare i limiti al di là delle frontiere nazionali: Era un cantautore ferroviere scoperto dalla Francia, con la passione e il cuore cresciuti nelle terre italiane, che ha dedicato buona parte di pensieri e parole a extracomunitari.

gianmaria-testa-848x4781)Gianmaria Testa

Ha lasciato a noi melodie, ritmi e parole piene di poesia e gioco, rivelando una prospettiva delicata e dettagliata sulla vita. Molte delle sue opere trattano di migrazione e testimoniano l’importanza del migrare, emigrare, fuggire e scappare, dell’arrivo che continuano a riempire la storia velocemente.

  Il suo lavoro discografico “Da questa parte del mare” del 2006 è un album totalmente dedicato alle migrazioni moderne. Riferendosi a questo album Falk Häfner, un giornalista della “BR-Klassik”, domandò a Testa nel 2015 se secondo lui la risposta europea alla migrazione moderna della quale racconta il suo lavoro discografico, fosse avvenuta troppo tardi, come se gli agenti politici avessero dormito.

Il concept album “Da questa parte del mare” racconta di persone che prendono una barca per oltrepassare il Mediterraneo e cambiare vita dall’altro lato. La consapevolezza e serietà della situazione riguardo gli extracomunitari, nei campi politici e economici è aumentata in Europa in 10 anni a causa della comparsa di sempre più extracomunitari nei paesi del nord Europa, che data la distanza geografica furono ‘risparmiati’ dalle ‘onde di rifugiati’ negli anni precedenti. ‘Risparmiare’ e ‘onde di rifugiati, esilianti’ etc. sono espressioni che vengono usate molto frequentemente sui giornali quotidiani e settimanili, e nei telegiornali nazionali in tutta l’ Europa e implicano una concezione negativa di extracomunitari in generale, paragonandoli a forze di natura incontrollabile come le onde, suggerendo che sono un male dal quale un paese senza coste rimane ‘risparmiato’. Al contrario di questa percezione implicitamente negativa e inappropriata la lingua della musica di Gianmaria Testa , usa parole molto più vicine a una concezione umana, più vicina alla realtà a mio riguardo.


2) Concept album “Da questa parte del mare”

Dedico questo articolo all’arte con la quale Testa ha arricchito la scena musicale nel 2006: L’album “Da questa parte del mare”, approfondendo la percezione dei testi. L’ amenità della musica e delle parole, che spesso contengono messaggi che in retrospettiva possono essere analizzati sotto tanti aspetti, aiuta a capire e imparare. Mi sono chiesta per quale motivo Gianmaria Testa  cantò in tal modo delle migrazioni moderne. Era probabilmente per dare una voce, la sua voce, a persone che per vari motivi non hanno né voce, né diritti nel mondo nel quale lui viveva e nel quale loro stavano entrando. Con la musica Testa ha contribuito a combattere la dimenticanza e trascuratezza nei confronti degli extracomunitari in Europa.

In aggiunta cantare di migrazione e fuga può ricordare a tutti noi l’umanità che arde nelle persone che cercano e desiderano con tutto il cuore una novità che permetta loro di vivere.

A proposito delle canzoni contenute nell’album “Da questa parte del mare” Gianmaria Testa  ha dichiarato “Io parlo di quel razzismo istintivo che hanno perfino i bambini, che è il razzismo verso una qualche diversità. Questo razzismo va combattuto con intelligenza, con ragionamento. Me lo spiego benissimo quello degli italiani, compreso il mio senso di fastidio, qualche volta. Me lo spiego ma non lo accetto, sono due cose diverse: me lo spiego, ma penso che non sia giusto averlo e che bisogna contrastarlo in qualche modo”(Antonio Piccolo 2007) Per contrastare questo razzismo descritto da Testa, lui compose, cantò, suonò:

“In fondo al mar profondo ci lascio il canto mio che non consola per chi e partito e si è perduto al mondo in fondo al mare” (In fondo al Mare, Gianmaria Testa). Canta indirizzando tutte le persone perse in mare e nel mondo. In fondo queste righe sono di ampio raggio, e possono esser lette sia riguardo agli extracomunitari, che riguardo a qualsiasi persona che si senta persa. Per Gianmaria Testa far parte di una terra, era una forma di pace, una pace che contrasta con questa dispersione della quale parla spesso nelle sue canzoni (Häfner 2015). Immergere le proprie mani nella terra, come spesso fece crescendo in una famiglia di agricoltori, gli diede la sensazione di patria e appartenenza, la sensazione di sentire le proprie radici in modo naturale che non c’entra con categorie nazionali e artificiali.

Nella canzone intitolata “Ritals” le parole di Gianmaria Testa raccontano di questo fenomeno di perdita, ricerca e rinvenimento in modo diverso, più concreto: “Eppure lo sapevamo anche noi l’odore delle stive l’amaro del partire Lo sapevamo anche noi e una lingua da disimparare e un’altra da imparare in fretta prima della bicicletta”. Questa espressione musicale fa pensare a chi ha dovuto lasciare un posto amaramente, malvolentieri, in ricerca di qualcosa di migliore. Racconta dei primi problemi che questo gruppo anonimo di persone incontra: imparare una nuova lingua, disimpararne un’altra, la propria lingua. Parlando di un “noi” Gianmaria Testa esperimenta l’empatia, includendo sé stesso in questo stato di transizione. Per persone che non sono mai dovute fuggire e non hanno mai dovuto lasciare tutto ciò che si chiamava “casa” è difficile immaginare questo stato d’animo, ma la lingua e le parole aiutano sempre ad’ avvicinarsi a concezioni estranee.

Testi come questo mostrano il potenziale innato della musica, di trasmettere questi concetti a chiunque ascolti le canzoni. Musica è una forma di potere, un atto di comunicazione che può raccontare di atmosfere per le quali le parole mancano a giornali, televisione o altri mezzi di comunicazione, censurati o comunque limitati in altro modo.

Ci sono innumerevoli cause alle quali musicisti dedicano le loro voci. Un altro esempio viene descritto nell’articolo pubblicato dal “The Guardian” nel 2015 “When rap raged against racism- 2015 and the black protest anthem” – “Quando il rap si imbestialisce contro il razzismo- 2015 e l’ inno della protesta ‘nera’”. Parla della musica rap che ha funghito come protesta contro il razzismo negli Stati Uniti per rinforzare il così detto “Black Lives Matter”-movement – Un movimento fondato per rinforzare e far riconoscere il valore delle vite di persone di colore, un movimento per più giustizia.  Il rap ha un ruolo fondamentale nella storia della musica come forma di partecipazione e ribellione politica in forma d’arte. Rivolte cariche di musica sono preziose e scoprire altri generi di musica, come il cantautore Gianmaria Testa  mostra la versatilità di questo potenziale. L’essere politico dell’arte.


fonti :

Br Klassik Falk Häfner, Gian Maria Testa gestorben (2015), Gianmaria Testa , testi e canzoni, Antonio Piccolo (2007) ; testo “Una barca scura”, testo “Ritals”

Grazie anche a Monica Cavaliere, mia cugina, per dare un’occhiata e una mano con l’italiano.


0) Mauro Biani 2016 in omaggio a Gianmaria Testa


2), Chiara Nava 2016

Points in case regarding emigration in Italy- from upper to lower ‘class’

Please note that the first part only includes rough descriptions of historic, political and sociological situations located in the past , as the core of this piece are the portraits of persons, who come from diverse social and economic back grounds in Italy today.

In his book ‘Homage to Catalonia’ (1938) George Orwell writes about his experience of comradeship and community in Spain, a decisive feature indicating the presence of a socialist body of thought that developed as the civil war commenced. He notes that ‘Many of the normal motives of civilized life-snobbishness money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc.- had simply ceased to exist’ (Orwell, 38).  Sadly those only ceased to exist while blood was being shed. Orwell’s book both lights a spark of hope in socialist hearts as well as marking out the difficulties and bias of creating equality through (violent) revolution.

Similar to Spain fascist values clashed with humanitarian and Marxist values during the Italian civil war (1942-1945). Ultimately, in Italy the aftermath of WW2 and the civil war was what made it even harder to enforce solidary and communal ideals.  A crucial feature of this aftermath was the disunity of mindsets and distribution of work places and wealth , that enforced the economic gap separating northern- from southern regions of Italy. At last it was not the ideals mentioned that clashed, but part of Italy striking with neo liberal reforms (south) and part of it adopting the new wave successfully (the north).

Yesterday’s fights’ are still conceivable today. The Italian government failed to catch up with other European nations’ policies that are essential for retaining significant socio-economic standards in a society based on capitalism. In Italy’s south you sense that you are in a political zone tainted with corruption and poor government more than elsewhere in the country. This is due to the misrule which often results in Mafiosi holding political offices. Rather than deducing the misery of people from mere financial factors, the core issue is structural and intertwined with the inefficient organisation and distribution of goods and work-power. The EU supported southern regions of Italy with 91 billion € in  2013. Half of that sum has basically been wasted in dubious mini-projects organised by Italian politicians. Altogether the situation culminated in a loss of faith in ‘the government’ and establishment and growing poverty in south Italy, contrasting the prosperity of northern Italy. Today many Italian citizens see it like that: The North is clean, the south is dodgy. The North is lawful, the south is criminal. The North is developed, the south is stagnant. Growth vs. decline.

Emigration, Mati art gallery

A great emigration necessarily implies unhappiness of some kind or other in the country that is deserted.

When Considering the current situation, it is paramount to view Italy as part of Europe. Italy is growing weaker. The ‘clean and lawful’ north moves further up. Emigration to strong and sovereign EU members appears to be THE SALVATION for young Italian adults at the moment: Especially for those who were born and raised in the ‘ostensibly dull’ south. Not only work-power but a whole generation is being lost to the European and other economic forefronts. The noted Author of the book ‘Gomorrah’, Roberto Saviano , even argues that sooner or later the Mafia will leave southern Italy too since even criminal business is on the decline

Let me specify how that generation is being lost and what mind sets and correlated behavior fuel this  process. We have emigrants who abandon Italy expecting to improve their  lives in doing so, hence energy and ideals are withdrawn from Italy together with the emigrating crowd. In addition to that simple equation, young people who are forced to stay or do not want to leave Italy join the Mafia or give themselves away to drugs and other clandestine activities in order to chase their anxieties away and veil their despair, numb themselves or  quit existing by taking their own lives. A disturbing assumption prevails here: There is literally no work in the south. This is not tared by the brush, I have talked to people living in the southern regions of Italy about these processes over and over again, and the strategies of young adults to ‘regain control’ over their lives are not unlikely to be the ones mentioned here. Nevertheless it’s got to be mentioned, that there are other more successful coping strategies, that aim regaining control on a structural, political level and are therefor less destructive. The point is that those are not accessible and acknowledged to and by  a wider crowd.

After having mentioned several reasons for the perceived concern and impotence it is pivotal to keep in mind that each human being shapes the society he lives in, no matter how powerless, passive, caught, blank or afraid one might feel. To be aware that you are an active participant of this world is important for each individual. The loss of this notion is dangerous because people who are not aware of their power are easily turned into instruments and taken advantage of by those who seam to be  in a powerful position. Ethically speaking this dynamic is deeply undesirable. We should not long for a society where most people live life feeling like passive spectators. The three people I portray here are somehow both, spectators and actors. The age all three are in is part of the life-time in  which people usually try to become independent- which means getting hold of  work, finding and taking care of family, housing and love- affairs – in western societies. Their names were changed for discretion.

Matteo, 27, born near S. (a city in Campania, a southwestern region) is an excellent example for showing the role of wealth and elite education for emigration. Those two privileges are not very present in the south of Italy due to the distribution mentioned earlier. His parents are doctors, whose values partly derive from  their parents: The father’s belong to the lower class since they were peasants, whilst the mother’s parents belong to the upper class. Nicola grew up hovering between socialists and bourgeois ideologies. His parents’ ideals turned out rather bourgeois, or (neo-)liberal-elitist. They believe in the ultimate power of money as an instrument that permits one to reach societie’s peak. Both influenced Matteo’s choice to study finance and business at universities such as Stanford and Harvard 6 years ago. Over the years Matteo lost most of the socialist ideals he used to be committed to due to the adaption mechanisms needed for elite education. There are ways to avoid adaption but most students can not resist it. Matteo compromised with elite education structures  in order to become part of them.  Resisting the possibility of having an elite education  would have been put down as an absurd rebellion from his behalf by many of his family members. He would have been put off as ill advised or confused probably. Nevertheless, his professional choice was somehow rebellious: His father wanted him to inherit his medical practice. Matteo rejected  his fathers’ sedentary lifestyle and conservative idea about inheriting what he fought for to his son. Whilst Matteo’s father worked his way from rags to riches, Matteo didn’t even know what life is like without having a modern housemaid until he moved to America.

Luigi’s existence, 31, born in L. (a city in Campania), illustrates how daunting imposed expectations  can work on ones’ educational ambitions. Luigi was born and raised in a middle class family and many values transmitted during his up bringing led to the pretty common paradigm of the young middle class in Italy: choosing ‘safety’ above passion. He is a doctor with a safe job. Both of Luigis’ parents are teachers who convey and live socialist ideals and were of moral and financial  support for their son. In (southern) Italy it is almost impossible to earn one’s living during academic formation as a student for there is no decent work for undergraduates. That is one of the reasons why Luigi took the prudential decision of becoming a doctor. It was mostly about increasing the chances of getting a secure job. This could be seen as  a phenomenon of  socio-economic captivity where people rationalise on their trajectory in life regarding financial stability instead of taking a leap and following passions (if they are not money-efficient). Life shaping decisions that may come across as wise, are actually restricted by existential fear. So this is why Luigi studied medicine for 6 years, finished with 110 cum cum laude (highest score at universities in Italy) and worked for over 4 years doing his specialization abroad. During a confidential conversation he indicated to me that teaching is what he really aspires to. What he really aspired and still aspires to  simply did not meet the expectation of getting him a secure job. This phenomena is not only wide spread in Italy of course, but the pressure Luigi was under differs a lot from the pressure he would have probably felt in Germany as a member of the middle class.

Last but not least there is Giorgio, 30, representing the lower class of southern Italy here. Giorgios’ life aid is education. Rationalising helps him through the roughness of everyday life. He lives in a small apartment with his depressed brother, who sleeps on a grabby couch in the kitchen and his mother, who sleeps in a room that is something in between a living room, a bedroom and an office. All three live on the mother’s low income and part of the grandfather’s pension. The notion of having individual space  is almost unknown when you live like this in Naples (region Campania). Giorgio is extremely idealistic. He is part of  a desperate but vivid class.  His master in sociology and his will to go on taking an academic path and engaging in research is the spark of hope for a better tomorrow which burns inside Giorgio. If it was not for the community he believes in, the apparently inescapable dependency he is caught in would make him give in I fear. Being with him, I sensed that his educational formation is about understanding his stake in society, since it appears to be a perpetual circle of struggling with short cuts,  precarious work,  escapism and all the filth that comes with it. Not to mention the responsibility he feels toward his younger brother and the stress he and his mother are undergoing due to his situation, but that is material for another story.

Both Matteo and Luigi have already experienced how going abroad can benefit your career, and this goes for pretty much everyone regardless where he or she was brought up and what social back ground an individual lives in. But especially for Matteo, who has recently decided to move to Washington for work, there are no equal alternatives found in his home country Italy, so that you could argue about how ‘forced’ this step of emigration is. This is what I think should not be the case.

The time has come to fight for something better. Maybe people should choose revolution over emigration, for I know that most Italian emigrants do love their ‘home’ and you risk ending up bitter over life, or at least resented over some part , if you give up on what you love. What sacrifices would it take to stay in a country and be confronted with inequality and growing poverty? Is Matteo happier than Luigi or Giorgio? Would emigrating make their lives easier? That question is highly hypothetical as Giorgio for example couldn’t even consider emigrating for he and his family do not have the economic supplies needed.

We need revolution and emancipation for long term improvements, people ready to ‘sacrifice’, meaning fight and stand up, in order to make the last years of their life or the next generations’ lives’ possibly better. Revolution is motivated by a rejection of the status quo. Within the rejection there are ideals that need to be implemented for changing the status quo. The high emigration rate in Italy is a form of protest, not revolution. Hence emigration will not ameliorate the status quo but it is an indicator for the need of change and reforms. An indicator that should be turned into new ideals and reforms that come with them.

sources: George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia (1938)

A Change is gonna come – social mechanisms around slavery still teach and warn us today

How can one remain calm observing the slow pass of emancipation? What do we stick to when patience is stretched out to a point where there is nothing left but rage and bewildered bias? What do we stick to when reasonable communication between people ends? What do we stick to when there is a gap beaten in stone and bleeding between two parties. What do we stick to when those self-constructed parties come to the belief of always being two and never unify again? Independently of who is the oppressed or the oppressor, the weak or the tough .Such ill communication and misconception of what place and thought they raise their claims on occupying this planet let people stick to their sickest root:

War. Alright!

The American Civil war ended with the collapse of confederate government in spring 1865.From 1863 to 1877 the American government underwent the Reconstructional Era and granted civil rights to all freed slaves. On Manhatten Island slavery was legal until 1927. This fact reflection of the many potentials of  history. It can serve humanity as a mirror, and mirror humanity its slow but steady walk. Changing law is a long processes you can deduce from the example of the civil rights movement in the United States of America. Often thought gives birth to such processes, followed by imagination and last but not least:












Billy Holiday performing ‘strange fruit  

     1939 Billy Holiday performed the poem ‘Strange Fruit’ (1937) singing and answered every single question I posed earlier using words written by Abel Meerpool, a tea ..Why would we mind about who he was?

‘Pastoral scene of the gallant South The bulgin’ eyes and the twisted mouth’ Ironic lines. A bitter text. The sound of Billy Holiday singing is desperate and jaundiced, with determination and a heavy heart she sings. ‘Strange Fruit’ consists of abold cry and an almost hysterical laugh. In short terms her performance is emotionally loaded like a thunderbolt. ‘Here is a fruit [black lynched men] for the crows to pluck For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop Here is a strange and bitter crop’

What an abominable crop!

What this poem and song leaves us with is the crop. What did people stick to who were left with more than mere lines, who were left with the actual ‘crop’ and could not escape the ‘smell of burnin’ flesh’? Black and white artists dealt with the crop, they listened to the song and commiserated together with Billy Holiday, they tried to express what they could not bare and clarify their place and belongings by understanding. Just understanding. The song does not root for action but for reflection and it puts its finger on the horror. An insecure finger still shocked and afraid of pointing at an actual human body, instead is pointing at a ‘fruit’. This trembling voice is still afraid of directly shouting ‘fuck you you racist bastards’ and ironically calls them ‘the gallant south’ with hidden disgust. Still afraid and trembling and shocked of what the eyes belonging to the finger and the voice have seen. A great part of the body has already been destroyed. But its brain preserved the power to work and fight beyond the lines drawn by wounds signalling it to stop, back off, shut up and die.

And this is amazing.

Is it our body, our brain, our finger and our voice? Facing human cruelty we can be  mad and sad, angry and resigned. But: Supposing reality is a constructed something, of which I am not sure , there should be no problem in changing it, except the discrepancies of constructs it consists of. Unify power for change. The collective body collapsed and some parts died, but here we are left with the power of imagination and construction skills.


‘Strange fruit’ was published at a time where the wounds were still so deep that the courage was alife and dead at the same time in people’s minds at least that’s how I imagine it could well have been. Civil war had just ended half a century ago and half a century is a blink of an eye historically speaking. Not much happens. But people talk a lot, they write, they sing and dance thus they deconstruct and reconstruct culture and keep on going. The general tone of black music changes. It mirrors the psychosocial state the black population of the United States of America archived and vice versa the achievements reflect the development of art.What do we stick to when all tears dry?


By the passing of time feelings like blind rage and mild courage overtook Black art and music. Gangster Rap, Hip-Hop, Soul. Courage to raise voices and rage in order to fight for rights were the tears’ offspring. Rebellion.Being treated unjust and not wanting to stay what the racist population in America wanted black people to be: An oppressed doormat. They wanted blacks to feel the power whites have over them and they got too damn far with their dull will. Constructs are more fragile than one might think.

The topic is currently pivotal due to the merging right wing ideologies that merge in western political landscape. We have to fight it and secure all equality and justice that has already been achieved in often bitter struggles by our ancestors.

‘Its been a long time coming but I know change has got to come. You know and I know.’ -Otis Redding, Change is gonna come.

A song regarding this topic