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Harmony - Billy Bland

In just three day's time the presidential election takes place in the US.

This is a lesser known song written by American white man Gene Pitney (see two posts ago) and recorded by American black man Billy Bland. The song reached 91 in the Billboard charts in 1960.

Bland was an r&b journeyman, had one major hit with "Let the Little Girl Dance" and two minor successes, including "Harmony", all in 1960, but retired from the music business three years later.

John Fogerty (leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival), Neil Young, Rihanna, Bruce Springsteen, REM, the Rolling Stones, Adele, Eddy Grant, Pharrell Williams, Guns N' Roses and Phil Collins have all formerly objected to the use of their songs at rallies by Donald Trump while the estates and/or families of Leonard Cohen, George Harrison, Prince and Tom Petty have also requested that the president should desist from using their music. Neil Young and Eddy Grant have actually sued Trump for using "Rockin' in the Free World" and "Electric Avenue" respectively in campaigns.

The irony about the use of some of these songs is that those who have selected them obviously haven't listened to the words or understood their meaning. For instance Creedence's "Fortunate Son" (see Uncle Stylus post May 16, 2018) is about Fogerty's anger at the sons of rich and important people dodging the Vietnam draft, and Springsteen's "Born in the USA" is a lament on the mistreatment of home returning 'Nam veterans. Trump has famously been criticised for dodging the draft a number of times in his youth.

In a world where the incumbent president of the USA is seeking re-election using tactics deliberately meant to promote mistrust, fear and anger, and to polarise people into opposing factions, Billy Bland's plaintive question resonates clearly:

"oh honey can't you see

how happy we could be

in harmony?

Come on and tell me why can't we live harmony?"


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