DF 20 - Pavarotti, pollen, Leon Wilkeson (June 2001)
June 2001 (there has been a mild case of communicatus interruptus here - Steve)
The phone rang, it was Bruce our manager. How abut Nessun Dorma, with Pavarotti? Yes that would be good . and so the process began. Conveniently as it happened, because we were due to start our U.S. tour in Chicago on the 2nd June. There wasn't much notice but the job was made easier by Jon Lord's generous and instant journey to my house (4 hrs away) where we went through the outline of the idea for an arrangement. I then called a friend, Isabel Buchanan, a great soprano who has sung with Lucy (as he's known in the trade), to give me some tips on the lyrics and how to understand them. This is such an established aria that I had to give it respect. However, the Italian words seemed uncomfortable to start with but after some patient tutelage from Isabel I grasped at least the meaning and the expressive discipline. Then I turned to the English translation in the hope that it might offer an easier way to go. No chance. In my humble opinion the English words are unsingable. So I re-wrote them, then I decided to do half and half, and it turned out OK. What amazes me about classical singers is how they can do it at the drop of a hat. Pavarotti didn't sound that different at the piano rehearsal in the back room as he did on stage. No doubt he would disagree, but the point I'm making is that I couldn't sing Speed King or Ted the Mechanic at the piano in the back room, nor in the bath, or walking down the street come to that (not without frightening the children anyway); no, I have to use every physical ounce of energy available and pound my way though a wall of rock, there's no way around it.
There's a friend of mine back home who's a retired tenor, in the category 'Australian', he still has a great, and very loud (FF) voice. Occasionally at the back end of a wet evening he'll start doing his thing behind the bar. Irish music and Glenn Miller being more of the norm in our pub, this creates a degree of incongruity and so he asks for requests. For some reason the half-pissed, without any detectable hint of mischief, always call for the Paul Robeson classic 'Ole Man River'. Craig winces but manfully goes for it every time and raises the roof.
So from Modena, with Pavarotti and George Benson et al, to Chicago, with Ted Nugent and Lynyrd Skynyrd. That's what I love about this band, you never quite know what you're going to be faced with next week. Montreux Jazz Festival, Royal Albert Hall, a benefit in Bangalore and then this. There were a few eyebrows raised when the 'package' was announced but I think it turned out fine. We got on very well with all the musicians and just did our stuff every night. Nice to hear exchanges like 'Good evening Sir Ted' from Jon and 'Good evening Sir Jon' in reply from the freshly ennobled archer/guitarist.
I thought I would draw your attention to the following article ....
WASHINGTON - A judge in Canada has ordered a Saskatchewan farmer to pay the biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. thousands of dollars because the company's genetically engineered canola plants were found growing on his field, apparently after pollen from modified plants had blown onto his property from nearby farms.
The closely watched case was a major victory for companies that produce genetically modified crops and have been aggressively enforcing agreements that require farmers to pay yearly fees for using their technology.
But the decision Thursday in a federal court in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was a significant setback for farmers who fear they will be held liable if pollen from neighboring farms blows onto their fields, transmitting patented genes to their crops without their knowledge or consent. Dozens of similar lawsuits have been filed against farmers around the United States, but the Canadian case is the first to go to trial.
"I've been using my own seed for years, and now farmers like me are being told we can't do that anymore if our neighbors are growing genetically modified crops that blow in," said Percy Schmeiser, 70, the farmer from Saskatchewan who was sued by Monsanto. "Basically, the right to use our own seed has been taken away."
Genetically engineered corn, soybeans, cotton and canola have become widely used in the United States, and recent evidence suggests that their pollen can spread to conventional crops. That means any farmer whose neighbors grow engineered varieties could find himself in the same situation as Mr. Schmeiser - especially farmer of easily windblown canola and corn.
"This is a clear win for Monsanto, and this is very good news for us," said Trish Jordan, manager of public and industry affairs for Monsanto Canada. "What the judge found was that Mr. Schmeiser had infringed on our patent and awarded us damages."
In his ruling, Judge W. Andrew MacKay concluded that a farmer does not have the right to grow crops with a patented and genetically modified gene unless he has an agreement with the company that owns the patent. Judge MacKay also ruled that it did not matter whether the farmer took advantage of the patented gene. In this case, Mr. Schmeiser did not ..'
Historically the human race has made some very bad mistakes, but we are creatures of habit, and when bad ideas become established the voice of reason or opposition, becomes heresy, and sooner or later, in a war of attrition, it becomes tired and unfashionable. De-sensitisation is the gloved hammerhead of the grand, rolling process of 'Globalisation'. Protesters against such as the above are being treated as cranks and troublemakers because governments and media conglomerates are now all part of the scam. Is that an unreasonable view? I would hate to be unreasonable. I don't know about you, but the complicit role of the 'establishment' (or 'them' as 'they' are commonly known) is staring me in the face. How dare I express such thoughts. It would be interesting to see the corporate criminals named, addressed and publicly humiliated for their arrogant, dirty deeds; not just the minions and blame-takers, but the all-too-powerful manipulators ('them' again) behind the CEOs. Turn the water cannon upon 'them'. How dare 'they'. How can 'they' dare do this and commit blatant incredible abuses, crimes by any other reckoning. Don't even get me started on Pharmaceuticals (read 'The Constant Gardener' by John Le Carre) or Carbon Bonds. I think it's simply because 'they' can, 'they' have power and 'they' are corrupt. Although 'they' claim it to be so, 'their' interests are not for the good of society IMHO, therefore 'they' are my enemy and I shall have fun with 'them', whoever the hell 'they' are. Come out and show yourselves you sneaky little buggers, for you are the real criminals, not the likes of poor old Percy Schmeiser.
Oh, and by the way, I read today that the Blair Mob (that's one of the organized crime syndicates in London) has just legalized human cloning in England thus ending forever the concept of 'free- will' in homo sapiens. Of course that's not what 'they're saying; 'it's for your own good, new livers, legs, hearts etc.' Don't you believe it. Please don't believe it. It's your mind 'they' want. That's all 'they've ever wanted. Where Mengels failed Monsanto will succeed (forgive the pun) and pretty soon we'll all be bred to conform to the requirements of the day. We have been warned (Huxley for example, 'often pessimistic' says the OED) and yet we seem powerless to resist. Maybe I'm going over the top. Maybe this cloning thing will be localized. Maybe it won't blow into your field.
I have had a couple of weeks holiday in the Algarve with my family. I like to walk and swim along the beach every day. A friend remarked that walking was boring and I suppose it sounds that way, but I prefer it to running. I can think, be at one with nature and contemplate my fortune. When you're running you have to keep going in case someone is watching, your rucksack bounces uncomfortably on your back, and you approach hazards too quickly. Even if your oxygen starved brain perceives the danger it is unlikely that your legs will receive the necessary instructions in time to stop you running off the cliff. Anyway, thus refreshed it's back on the road in August for the bash through Europe. These are exciting times for the band and the end of the year should hopefully see us well into the next album. There are some interesting developments in that area which it would be premature to discuss here, but I can say that, as we were reviewing some of the ideas from earlier writing sessions, there was a distinct lack of despondency.
Thanks, as ever, for your continued support. It really does mean a lot.
Cheers for now,
Peace & love,
p.s. As I write this I hear of the sad death of Leon Wilkeson, the bassist with Lynyrd Skynyrd with whom we enjoyed such good times recently. He will be sadly missed. My sympathies to his family, fellow musicians, friends and fans.
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