Monday, November 16, 2009

A 'Velvet Revolution' inspired by The Velvet Underground

Just up this morning from The New York Times - a fascinating piece on yet another role that music played in bringing about the fall of Communism twenty years ago in Europe. On November 9th, the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, New Creation highlighted this piece on the role of music in inspiring those in Europe as a whole. Today we focus upon Czechoslovakia and the fall of communism there on November 17, 1989. That Revolution was dubbed "The Velvet Revolution" (because of its astounding element of non-violent protest and change --there was not a single bullet fired) and was lead by Playwright-turned-President Vaclav Havel (who popularized Billie Holiday's lyric: "The impossible will take a little while"), one of the great world figures of the last quarter of the twentieth century.

But "The Velvet Revolution" it turns out was inspired by artists such as the seminal rock 'n roll band The Velvet Underground which was lead by the legendary Lou Reed.

Read an excerpt of the article below // Article in Full Here

PRAGUE — It has been called the Velvet Revolution, a revolution so velvety that not a single bullet was fired. But the largely peaceful overthrow of four decades of Communism in Czechoslovakia that kicked off on Nov. 17, 1989, can also be linked decades earlier to a Velvet Underground-inspired rock band called the Plastic People of the Universe. Band members donned satin togas, painted their faces with lurid colors and wrote wild, sometimes angry, incendiary songs.

It was their refusal to cut their long, dank hair; their willingness to brave prison cells rather than alter their darkly subversive lyrics (“peace, peace, peace, just like toilet paper!”); and their talent for tapping into a generation’s collective despair that helped change the future direction of a nation.

“We were unwilling heroes who just wanted to play rock ’n’ roll,” said Josef Janicek, 61, the band’s doughy-faced keyboard player, who bears a striking resemblance to John Lennon and still sports the grungy look that once helped get him arrested. “The Bolsheviks understood that culture and music has a strong influence on people, and our refusal to compromise drove them insane.”

Vaclav Havel, the music-loving former Czech president and dissident who championed the band’s cause when several members were imprisoned in 1976 for disturbing the peace, credits it with inspiring Charter 77, the manifesto demanding human rights that laid the groundwork for the 1989 revolution.

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