9. POWER – John Hall

It might be something to do with spending so much time in the garden, willing all the little plants in our ‘wildflower garden’ to take root, to start blooming, watching them perk up after a nice spring shower and (even more) the subsequent bursts of warm spring sunshine; but whatever it is, I find myself bursting spontaneously into ‘Give me the warm power of the sun; give me the restless flow of the waterfall…’ *

I usually stop before I get to ‘…  But won’t you take all your atomic poison power away…!’ Maybe not out of principle, probably more because I can’t remember all the words that precede it.  But maybe also – a bit –because that cry somehow seems…I don’t know…perhaps a little naive and unformed now; attitudes towards (some forms of?) nuclear energy have perhaps shifted since the early seventies, haven’t they?  And those promoting nuclear reactors have tried hard to make a case for the ‘cleanness’ of the source – compared for instance to the burning of fossil fuels. Still, since Fukushima 2011…might we be swinging back to John Hall’s sentiments?  Let’s stick to the song.

The song, I think, more or less ends the ‘No Nukes’ film about a series of concerts organized by the Musicians United for Safe Energy (M.U.S.E.) –a film with which I was so enamoured – late seventies?   early eighties?  -that I saw it at least twice in a cinema setting –Cardiff’s chapter arts centre probably; and have subsequently obtained the DVD.  The film showed iconic 1970s singer songwriters earnestly engaged in an enterprise of conviction.  There was a kind of evangelical fervor to their involvement –James Taylor, Carly Simon (still a married couple at that time), Bonnie Raitt,  Jackson Browne and Graham Nash –these last always a safe bet for liberal, democratic stances.

In the course of the film you see them perform, yes, but also in impromptu rehearsals –preparing, for instance, a joint rendition of Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-changin’.  And we also witness John and Joanna Hall’s ‘Power’ song coming together, in snatches, in a suitably organic way, till it finally surfaces complete – chorus and verses and all, in the final open-air concert which concludes the film.

And it is stirring, of course –seeing that measure of lively ‘belief’ and ‘purpose’ in their take-it-in-turns delivery of the song, and the message gusto in their harmonised chorus.  There is a kind of ‘creationist’ faith (as in ‘creation theology’) there, that’s undeniably attractive: let’s use the natural things, man.

*And now I think of it, I’m not sure I sing it right: surely it’s the restless power of the wind, and the steady flow of the waterfall?  That makes a little more sense.


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