Richie Havens was a rare talent – as a singer, a guitarist, a songwriter, an artist, a poet, an actor, and especially, as a person. Instead of living “the good life” by taking advantage of celebrity worship and soulless endorsement of anything anyone’s willing to sell, he was a passionate, pro-peace activist. He educated people about ecology, imperialism and civil rights. His endeavors in the area of civil rights included advocating for the rights of the Indigenous people of North America.
In 2002 he released his 19th studio album, “Wishing Well”, and on it he recorded a unique version of a song by Pink Floyd. It’s quite different in style from the original. On Pink Floyd’s 1987 album, “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason”, it’s a beautifully crafted, melodic rock song with inspirational lyrics. Though the lyrics are about something horrible happening to humanity, the version by Richie Havens has a meditative quality to it. Though that might seem to be a strange mix, it may be the perfect vehicle to allow the listener to relax into a contemplative state and be open to the profound message.
The message is that we’re drowning in a cesspool of ignorance, hate and insensitivity and need to open our hearts to take an honest look at what we’re doing to each other (and to all life) in this insane world we’ve designed. We’ve allowed cruelty and indecency to prevail over kindness and compassion. We need to feel again – feel the pain and suffering we inflict on “others” and allow to spread. The cold wind of apathy is blowing out of control and people are freezing to death. A death of the heart.
Please, no more turning away.
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