No Nukes Rockers Rock On

From the Inbox:

October 22, 2007

No Nukes’ rockers renew fight decades later

WASHINGTON ­ Jackson Browne says he thought his group of politically active musicians “really dealt the nuclear industry a blow” with a series of 1979 concerts opposing nuclear power.

Nearly three decades later, Browne and fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Bonnie Raitt and Graham Nash are in Washington to resume the fight. The three, all founders of the Musicians for Safe Energy group that organized the No Nukes concerts, are delivering petitions to Congress today urging lawmakers not to make it easier to finance nuclear reactors.

In a 21st century update on the concert series, the trio created a website,, featuring a YouTube video. It asks viewers to sign a petition opposing a provision in an energy bill before Congress that would expand federal loan guarantees for nuclear plants. Raitt isn’t ruling out an encore of the concerts ­ which produced an album and a movie ­ but said the Internet got the word out quickly.

The group says it collected more than 120,000 supporters.

The musicians’ effort comes as the industry is enjoying what Nuclear Energy Institute spokesman John Keeley calls “a renaissance.”

Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission accepted its first application to build a nuclear power plant since 1978, the year before an accident at the Three Mile Island reactor in central Pennsylvania. Three or four more applications to build reactors could be filed by year’s end, says Scott Peterson, a vice president at the Nuclear Energy Institute. He credits a 2005 bill that streamlined the licensing process for reactors and provided loan guarantees.

The musicians were galvanized into action by new energy legislation that House and Senate negotiators are trying to hammer out. A provision backed by Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., would exponentially increase the amount of federally backed loans.

This year, Congress has provided $4 billion for loan guarantees, which Peterson says is enough for one plant. He says the industry requires about $25 billion for reactors now on the drawing board.

Browne is shocked by nuclear’s comeback. “I thought it was a rotting corpse of an industry,” he says.

The Nuclear Energy Institute says 104 reactors in 31 states provide one-fifth of the USA’s electricity without carbon fuels, which contribute to global warming.

Browne says heightened terrorism concerns bolster the argument for looking other sources of power. “The consequences of blowing up a field of wind generators would not be the same as blowing up a train full of nuclear waste,” he says.

The anti-nukes musicians have at least one friend in the corridors of power: Songwriter and guitarist John Hall, who helped found Musicians for Safe Energy, was elected to Congress last year. Hall, D-N.Y., arrived in Washington just in time to perform with his friends at a VIP reception on Capitol Hill Monday night.

On the proposed playlist: “Plutonium is Forever,” a Hall song about the difficulties of disposing of nuclear waste. Browne described it as “rock music for policy wonks.”

Before the show, Browne said Hall’s lack of practice wasn’t a concern “as good a musician as he is.”


CD Launch

My Heart is Moved


Photograph by Cherie Westmoreland

CD Launch

This project,
My Heart is Moved, is deeply local,
circles of women caring for the global and local
possibilities in their lands and communities.

~ Carolyn McDade

In early June 2007, seven Saskatchewan women traveled to Boston to record the vocal tracks for My Heart Is Moved, a new CD of music by Carolyn McDade & Friends. In all, 85 women from 10 different bio-regions of North America — many of whom had never before met — gathered to sing! All who were there brought with them the breath and life of their local communities, the voices of all in their circles, the amazing preparation and intention of the local group, into the focused work of rehearsals and recording. Songs shaped collaboratively in word and sound by beloved artists, given instrumental voice by exquisite musicians were further shaped as they were sung in community.


Please join Carolyn McDade & Friends and the Saskatchewan Singers of the Sacred Web to listen to, sing and celebrate this new release of songs that gives us an emotional entry into the profound and urgent wisdom of the Earth Charter.

7:30 pm Thursday, October 25, 2007
St. Andrews College
1121 College Drive
University of Saskatchewan

7:30 pm, Friday, October 26, 2007
Sunset United Church
177 Sunset Drive




This music, drawn from the heart and words of The Earth Charter, pulls us to where waters run. . . seep. . . pool. . . We need these songs if we are ever to rudder ourselves through the narrows to a deeper understanding of who we are as planetary and cosmic beings, intent on the wellbeing of the community of life of which we are inextricably a part. ~ Carolyn McDade

The Earth Charter is a global People’s document that addresses how we, Earth’s people, need to exist in relationship with one’s self, with others, with Earth, and the larger whole if we are to sustain human life on this planet. Current work on the Charter began in 1994 with Maurice Strong, Chair of the 1992 Rio Summit, and former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, Founder of Green Cross International. The aim of the movement is to have the Charter officially recognized by the United Nations.

The project title, My Heart Is Moved, comes from an Adrienne Rich poem, Natural Resources, published in her1978 book, The dream of a common language.

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those,
who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.

We invite you to let your heart be moved by this beautiful music, to cast your lot with ours as we move from the aquifer of our hearts and souls to reconstitute the world. If you are not in Saskatchewan, you may be able to take in other launch celebrations in Canada and the USA. CDs will be available for sale at the launches and can be purchased in Regina at Bach & Beyond or online.

For additional information, please visit, email

Poetry and Music

This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for having both poetry and music in my life.  I read and write poetry and count several poets as friends.  And, I have a partner who plays a great guitar, has an vinyl album collection second to none and loves me.  Our kids are fast becoming talented musicians and pretty fine writers, too.

So, when I found Language Log’s, Poem in the key of what, I was naturally interested.

The idea behind this paper is that the pitch contours of speech naturally express the same sorts of melodic intervals that occur in music. This is an old idea, prominent already in Paṇini’s work two and a half millennia ago, but Schreuder et al. have a new idea about how to look for the phenomenon. While it’s clear that musical intervals are part of the stylized forms of speech that we call “chanting”, I’ve always been skeptical that well-defined intervals (in the sense of small-integer ratios of pitch values) play a role in unchanted speech. I’ll explain some reasons for my skepticism later in this post. However, it would be fun to be wrong on this one.

On Guantanamero, the Poem

Interesting how other countries, such as Chile, celebrate their poets. Pablo Neruda was a brilliant poet who died more than 30 years ago yet he continues to be revered in Chile and around the world. (Apparently he died because of a broken heart during the military coup that brought U.S.-backed dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, into power. Note that Pinochet has recently been accused of murdering a former Leader of the Chilean Christian Democratic Party, Eduardo Frei Montalva, in 1982.) A film documenting Neruda's life and work, Pablo Neruda Presente!, is said to be a must-see for all poets.

I have to wonder if Cuban diplomat, poet, and visionary, José Julián Martí Pérez (José Martí), is rolling over in his grave these days given what's recently gone on at Guantanamera (Guatanamo) Bay. Martí died in 1895 and remains a national hero. As a teenager, Martí was imprisoned for speaking out against the Spanish government and was exiled from Cuba to Spain. (Cuba was, at that time, a colony of Spain). Despite ill health after his release, he continued writing and working to ensure Cuba's independence from Spain and the United States. He is commonly referred to as the apostle of Cuban independence, probably for writing the Manifesto of Montechristi.

An excerpt from his collection of poems, Versos Sencillos (Simple Verses), formed the basis for the Cuban folk song, Guantanamera. Adapted by Julián Orbón and set to music by José Fernández Díaz in 1928, the poem-song has been recorded by folk singers Pete Seeger, the Weavers, and Joan Baez, by Los Lobos, the Ventures, and Nana Mouskouri and by numerous others. Most recently, it was remixed by Haitian-born hip-hop artist, Nelust Wyclef Jean.

Verse Five of Simple Verses is the piece that forms the basis of the song, Guantanamera. Here, it is translated from the Spanish by Manuel A. Tellechea:

If You've Seen a Mount of Sea Foam (Verse V)

If you've seen a mount of sea foam,
It is my verse you have seen:
My verse a mountain has been
And a feathered fan become.

My verse is like a dagger
At whose hilt a flower grows:
My verse is a fount which flows
With a sparkling coral water.

My verse is a gentle green
And also a flaming red:
My verse is a deer wounded
Seeking forest cover unseen.

My verse is brief and sincere,
And to the brave will appeal:
With all the strength of the steel
With which the sword will appear.

– – José Julián Martí Pérez

Now, what is it that Chile, Cuba, Haiti, and Iraq have in common?