This weekend, I pulled out my vinyl copy of Little Stephen’s Artists United Against Apartheid project – Sun City.
Unlike Band-Aid or the “We Are the World” project, Little Stephen brought artists from a wide variety of genres – and far more alternative, at the time, than the more poppy predecessors. Also unlike them, his assembly of rappers and rockers produced an entire album’s worth of materials – seven songs in all.
All of the songs on it are pretty solid, which doesn’t surprise me given the musicians involved, but as I was listening to the song and thinking about where we are these days, politically, I was struck by one lyric:
“Freedom is a privilege nobody rides for free”
This gave me pause for two reasons:
1. The first half claims that freedom is a privilege, but it’s not. Freedom is a right. No man or woman has the right to own or shackle another. In this day and age, when people believe things like health care, a job and even a driver’s license is a right, I’m surprised that this group would produce a lyric stating the ultimate right – freedom – is a privilege.
2. The second half says “nobody rides for free.” I’m making an assumption, but I’m guessing most of the people involved with this record believe in Obama’s healthcare law – which claims to give things for free. In fact, Obama’s approach to government is to redistribute wealth and give money and benefits for free to those who “cannot” fend for themselves. (And by “cannot,” I don’t mean the truly unable, but those able-bodied and often educated people who’ve decided to reap the benefits of government programs.) It’s all about “free” these days.
I was stunned that in one sentence, they got two fundamental ideas so backwards, and in fact, they don’t actually support either notion.
But aside from that, the song is still solid – though I think it may not entirely be holding up well against time. There are other great songs on this album though, including the largely Peter Gabriel-based “No More Apartheid.” If you can find a copy, I recommend checking out this historical relic from the 80’s.