Songs of Peace

by Peter Kirn

Photo (CC-BY) srqpix.

We are, as every generation, part of a planetary history that’s bigger than anyone can really comprehend, but of which we’re a part. So, music isn’t terribly good at making specific policy prescriptions, or solving tangible problems, or feeding people – all vitally important things. But nothing can express hope or feeling like music. New York’s public radio station WFUV plays on their live stream today songs of peace and a nice set by John Lennon, which I’m listening to at the moment.

I’m curious to hear readers’ favorite music that expresses hope for peace. You can take that to apply to whatever news story there is in the world at the moment – really, absolutely any story. You can do it in a way that transcends any ability to editorialize or analyze. And that music can include electronic and instrumental pieces, as very often those pieces are forgotten, but I know have been comforting and inspiring to me, or I wouldn’t do what I do. Readers, chime in in comments.

Unlike news or editorials, I do believe music can speak to something deeper than any one day’s headlines, to the way we feel about being human. I spend a lot of my time with words, but music still says things I can never put into words.

Answers from readers:

Symptoms of a False Awakening blog names Alice Coltrane – Blue Nile (via @mbytz)

Imagine, says @mtnsound

New to me, but not, I suspect, if you were watching Eurovision in 1982 (I was busy being American and four): “ein bisschen Frieden” by Nicole. So says @tillephone

Lots more in comments – please keep adding.

  • Veridical Driver

    Remember, unless you are an anarchist, you don't really support peace.

    All states enforce laws through policing and punishment… Ultimately, all governments enforce compliance with their laws and programs using the threat of violence to back them up. The violence may be abstracted, and involve a great deal of ritual: If you commit a parking offense, they will give you a ticket, then they will send you a bill, then they will send you a court summons, then they will send you an arrest warrant… but, at some point, if you don't pay the parking ticket someone with guns is going to come after you, and if you still manage to resist, you will be killed.

    I am not an anarchist… but then again, I am not a pacifist. But it makes me angry when people claim to support "Peace", yet are unable to see that violence is at the very core of their own ideologies and belief systems.

  • Peter Kirn

    I'm making no claim of my own ideology or policies – hence I'm pointing to music for a sense that, hopefully, transcends some of these other issues.

    But, uh, for the record, repeat parking violations here in New York results in the suspension of the license to operate your motor vehicle, not someone coming to your home and murdering you.

  • Veridical Driver

    Peter, is driving without a licence not a criminal offense in New York?  

    OK, so you have just added one more layer of abstraction.. but I suspect if NY state troopers catch you driving without a licence, your options will be to allow yourself to be arrested, or get shot/hit/tasered/etc. At the end of it all, all laws are enforced by violence.

    People are trying to be pro-milk and anti-cow. It is just not possible.

  • http://keithhandy.com Keith Handy

    I think Veridical Driver is missing the point of the exercise.

  • Peter Kirn

    Yes, uh… favorite music, anyone?

  • ideletemyself

    Off the top of my head, the track "Turquoise Hexagon Sun" from Music Has the Right to Children album by Boards Of Canada… That track always makes me feel great and hopeful. Like things might not be so bad after all…

    Warm & fuzzy :)

  • ideletemyself

    oh and the bands Blur & Supergrass always make me feel good. Always put a smile on my face when I'm down or fearful. Any album of either will do, they're all great like that ;)

  • gossen

    Freddie's Dead by Curtis Mayfield. But I guess that is a bit too old to count as a contemporary example. 

    I'm not sure the lyrics support it 100%, but "Sing" by the Dresden Dolls is very peaceful. "There is this thing that's like touching except you don't touch (…) it's sing…"

  • Carl Smith

    Here's a piece that i did in that vein:
    http://soundcloud.com/kingmob/archaic-revival

  • http://mbytz.com Myroslaw

    The times when my spirits have been down or when I can't seem to detect a silver lining in the stormclouds, my most cherished eixir is the track "Blue Nile" by one Alice Coltrane. Just says everything, without saying anything.

    I posted it up here for anyone who'd like a hint of the sublime: &nbsp ;http://bit.ly/hopebluenile 

    I really like the sentiment of this post. Thanks, Peter.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/jamesmcn/ jamesmcn

    Orb – Little Fluffy Clouds

    I don't see how you can be mad at anyone while listening to space dub. If you aren't mad at anyone, you are at peace with everyone.

    Though if you want to be truly international, I might pick something like Orbital's Chime. Simple rhythm and melody that should work everywhere, and no lyrics to impute a language bias.

    From a compositional perspective – how universal is the emotive content of the most common modes/scales? 

  • http://mbytz.com Myroslaw

    Just wanted to add another that I can't believe I forgot the first time around.  It's "Say Goodbye" by Bigg Jus, and it's got a fairly striking connection to the events of recent days:  the album it appears on took an extraordinarily long time from promo to final release, but was to originally debut on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.  You can hear it, and read a few more thoughts, here:

    http://tu.mbytz.com/post/5154814901/the-other-son

    Truly,

    Myroslaw Bytz 

  • http://soundcloud.com/psylozen Psylozen

    Michael Franti, pretty much everything he's released. I'm really fond of the Yell Fire! album, and his 'I know I'm not alone' dvd is also a must-see.

    http://michaelfranti.com

  • Till

    so… here we go. As mentioned on Twitter, here comes a very popular peace song from Europe. It was the winning song in the European Song Contest 1982. Here's a link to a four-language version

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2nfrb_nicole-fl

    oh and by the way: Germany is about to win the ESC again, next weekend ;-)

  • Till

    eek. I only now saw that you mentioned "Ein bisschen Frieden" in the post above. Feel free to delete my comment…

    Cheers,

    Till

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_2akFNyu_M Rod Morgan

    A commentary on the beauty of this planet contrasted by the suffering of children worldwide as a result of or our propensity to commit acts of war on every scale, and tolerate poverty, when neither should exist. We have the means but do we have the collective conscience and will to do anything about it. The children continue to suffer and the cycle continues.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNnm2ut1MXE Rod Morgan

    Page A18 of the April 29, 2004 Toronto Globe and Mail featured a story with the image seen in this video. The caption read, "U.S. Marines order Iraqi women and childrento leave the building during a house-to-house search operation yesterday in a village near Fallujah." The look of terror on that yound child's face inspired this song.

    Thanks to my brother, Chris, for the edgy lead work on this song.