Mood Music

24/03/09 El cantante y activista social Manu C...

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I find it incredible that Manu Chao is used as hotel lobby music in the Ibis Hotel, Montevideo (a stone’s throw from the American Embassy). Manu, who stands for everything that a global hotel chain opposes – the rights of the dispossessed, the homeless, illegal immigrants, the excluded. So I sit in the lobby, astonished at the incongruity between this rebel music and my shiny day-glo surroundings. And who’s next up? Manu’s hero and inspiration, Bob Marley, who has been given this kind of treatment for decades now.

Of course this is how capitalism works: it sucks in all opposition, chews it up and spews it out in its own image: in this instance as a once familiar but now curiously transformed musak – and although these recordings are exactly the same as the ones I listened to and loved when they were first released, they have somehow become re-configured, re-stated, recycled as hotel mood music and I am once again bereft, and my experience of being in the world has become cheapened and sullied and I will no longer be able to listen to these songs without the memory of this new, emasculated version superimposed on the songs I hold in memory.





3 Comments on “Mood Music

  1. the beauty of art is that each person that comes upon it can walk away with a different point of view. The fact that Manu got a spin at a tony hotel lobby in Uruguay should not be taken too out of context either. Manu still walks the walk and talks the talk …. Its not like he has become Thievery Corporation or French electro music either ….


  2. As you say, this is how capitalism works, by despoiling, which is the very reason why we must find it within us not to resist the mark of capitalism on the things we value. Enjoy Manu and Marley’s songs for what they are, songs of resistance. Don’t allow them to be spoilt. Let their original spirit remain alive. They may be turned into musak in the hotel lobbies but those lobbies are not the world, they are a manufactured fantasy which we can shed. Sing them in the shower, Richard, sing them in the street.
    (I’m reading your blog a few days late. But when I caught a b&w movie in Bristol the other day, Rita Hayworth in her 1946 film, ‘Gilda’, set in Buenos Aires and Montevideo (or manufactured fantasies of those two cities: it was filmed on set in a Hollywood studio-shed of course), I half-expected to see you popping up on screen, perhaps when she was singing ‘Put the Blame on Mame’ in that inimitable sultry-goddess style.


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