Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Video Spotlight: "Sun City"



So 2013 kind of ended on a bummer, with the death of Nelson Mandela.  No matter what side of the political spectrum you land on, I think just about everyone can agree that he was a great political figure for tolerance and peace.  His death was greatly mourned, and rightfully so, by the entire world.

But in 1986, when apartheid was alive and well in South Africa, Stevie Van Zandt stepped up and wrote this defiant song.  While Rod Stewart, Queen, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, and others were playing the lavish Sun City resort (despite a cultural boycott issued by the United Nations), Little Stevie had the courage to stand up and say "No!" to a major venue.  He not only pledged not to play it, but wrote an anthem pledging not to play the casino/resort that was built on the back of slave labor.

As he wrote the song, Van Zandt named names of the artists who had played there, obviously attempting to shame them, but in the end he decided to make the song "a song about change not charity, freedom not famine."

And so the song moved forward with a hip hop and R&B influence, while still maintaining a pure E Street sound.  In addition to being written by Van Zandt, the song features Bruce and Clarence in addition to Miles Davis, Kool DJ Herc, Grandmaster Melle Mel, The Fat Boys, Ruben Blades, Bob Dylan, Herbie Hancock, Ringo Starr and his son Zak Starkey, Lou Reed, Run DMC, Peter Gabriel, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Darlene Love, Bobby Womack, Afrika Bambaataa, Kurtis Blow, Jackson Browne and then-girlfriend Daryl Hannah, U2, George Clinton, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Peter Wolf, Bonnie Raitt, Hall & Oates, Jimmy Cliff, Big Youth, Michael Monroe, Peter Garrett, Ron Carter, Ray Barretto, Gil-Scott Heron, Nona Hendryx, Pete Townshend, Pat Benatar, and Joey Ramone.  All of them, pledging not to play Sun City.

With Bruce playing South Africa this weekend, and the recent death of Mandella, I would not be shocked at all if Bruce pulled this song out at all one of the nights.  But again, when Bruce plays live nothing is expected and nothing is off limits either.