David Byrne is one of rock’s most outspoken political commentators. He’s penned lengthy pieces about topics like animal activism, Internet security and shocking presidential rise of Donald Trump on his website. In a new interview for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Byrne addressed the political nature of music.
“I don’t know if music has the power to change people’s minds, as far as political ideas,” he said. “I do think it has the power to unify people who are slightly undecided – feeling a certain way but haven’t able to articulate it.
“Music does a good job of articulating something, how something feels, more than an editorial. It’s really good at explaining how it feels. It creates a kind of group with a like-mind, which isn’t really changing anybody’s mind, but [is] bringing people with like-minds together,” said Byrne.
Byrne is one of several artists who contributed interviews about the intersection of music and politics to the Rock Hall’s Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics exhibit, which opens Friday, May 20th. In his piece, Bono spoke about the origins of U2’s “Bullet the Blue Sky,” while Tom Morello noted that “all music is political, even Justin Bieber.” Other contributors include Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, Gloria Estefan, Jimmy Carter and Gregg Allman.
The exhibit features a variety of iconic rock artifacts including: Jimi Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster played at Woodstock and Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyric sheet for protest anthem “The Times They Are a-Changin.'”
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Byrne has written a new musical – Saint Joan, tracing the story of Joan of Arc – which premieres February 14th, 2017 at New York City’s Public Theater, The New York Times reports.