Friday, January 31, 2014

'To Russia With Love'

Bernie writes about the people, Elton's music makes it for the people. This time Elton dispenses with the music and uses his own words. About the people and for the people.

As people may be aware, the Winter Olympics kicks off in the next while. There's a lot of focus on Russia at the minute and the ongoing human rights issues there. Over the border in the Ukraine the scenes in Independence Square (a venue Elton played twice in recent years) are also causing a headache for those in the Kremlin. However, as this blog is apolitical I'm not going to start an autopsy of the region. If anyone wants a broader view of the situation, listen to this link that was broadcast last night on BBC Radio 3. It should put into context Elton's position as outlined before Christmas and in his recent statement

A blog post I had lined up to do was one rounding up last years tours. Unfortunately for reasons beyond my control, I decided to park it. The crowning glory of it would have been Elton's broadside on stage in Moscow at the end of the year. A speech that gained a lot of publicity at the time. So in the context of the Winter Olympics getting all iced up and frosty fashion, maybe now is a good time to recall it. It may not have immediate effect, but it'll have set in motion or even accelerated a change. Tune in again in several years for an update on that one.

Oddly enough I had the A Single Man In Moscow CD on recently. Anyone familiar with the machinations behind the scenes to get that tour off the ground will know Elton went out on a limb for that one. One which ultimately paid off. A desire to connect with his fans there whilst at the same time dancing a neutral line on the politics issue. So his connection with Russia is not in doubt or up for discussion. So when he spoke late last year, he addressed the powers that be directly. The location was merely the conduit for the message. Reports from the show mentioned hecklers in the audience. One, two or too many is an odd state of affairs. Lost In Translation is the only generous spin I can put on it...

Questions were raised as to why Elton went. Not for the first time he had ventured into a market that was under scrutiny. He went to South Africa in 1983 and of course he shouldn't have gone. There was a cultural boycott in operation at the time. A couple of years later he did express regret at going and vowed not to return until change came about. Which of course it did. And he kept his promise. Nobody has a monopoly on having a cupboard devoid of skeletons. Skip forward to today. The fact is Elton defied the threats, intimidation and still entered the lions den. To speak eloquently with sincerity about the rowing back of basic human rights in Russia. All this from a man who has relied on others to supply words for his craft over the years. Nor for the gain of money or any other such fringe benefits of going there at this time could bring. So quite an achievement all round.

One thing is for sure, everyone is now more aware of the situation in Russia than they were before. Thanks to Elton's contribution. Even the haters. The messenger is not for turning...

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