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What it's like to write songs for world peace

February 24, 2013, 12:30 pm | This story has an Influence Score of 2211

By riazhussain

Humans are divided into different colors, countries, cultures and creeds. There are people who confine themselves to these parochial identities. But, at the same time, there are people who try to rise above these diversities and identify themselves with universal human existence as a whole. Such people always remain concerned over pain and suffering in the world whether the location of that suffering is thousands of miles away from their own home. Michael Borkson is such a person. He uses his songs to spread the message of peace in his world.

He is a singer, songwriter and guitarist. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.He plays ‘in free-form venues such as in the Boston subway,  and open mics’. He also sings at protest rallies. 

His love for singing songs began in the 70s.  He ‘started playing guitar while a student at Boston University’. During his university years not only did his passion for singing gain momentum but also his love for peace.

As a singer, he likes ‘classic rock from the 1960s-70s and his ‘main influences are the Moody Blues, the Byrds, and Bob Dylan’. He has spent time with the stars from the world of music and entertainment. 

Michael has ‘recorded several CDs in the studio with a backup band-- drums, bass, and keys’. His CDs are---"THE REVOLUTION IS COMING" , "1967" , "SMASH THE STATE !!", "CLASSIC ROCK UNPLUGGED" and "ABOVE THE MORNING SKY". He loves to write songs of freedom, liberty and peace. He has written several songs on anti-war themes. He satirizes war in his songs.  He says, ‘Being a peace/social justice activist, I have written a lot of protest songs and have performed at some organized protests in Boston and New York’. Some of the protest songs he has authored are:

Free Leonard Peltier

The Revolution Is Coming

Living in America



In Birmingham Theres 19 Gone

In Birmingham There’s 19 Gone was his first song. He wrote this song for the 19 people killed in Birmingham. He says, ‘This is the first song I ever wrote; way back in 1974. It is not an anti-IRA / Irish song--it was written to criticize the British government, too -- criticizing both sides in the violence that existed for so many years in Northern Ireland’.

The Revolution is Coming is a song he wrote ‘about social and political revolution’. Living in America is another protest song. He points out that ‘no flag is big enough to cover up our nation's sins. It is a protest song I wrote about the American imperialist monster in which we have to live. History tells us all empires must fall -- from Rome to the USA’.

1967 is another protest song written about ‘anti-war protests’. Michael likes Martin Luther King. He wrote a song for him. He regards him ‘the greatest American of our time'. He remembers that King 'said we must oppose the evils of war, racism, and poverty’. He has also written a song about Leonard Peltier. The song is entitled  ‘Free Leonard Peltier’. He says of it, ‘I wrote about Native American political prisoner Leonard Peltier, unjustly imprisoned since 1976’.

Michael Borkson is of the view that peace is an eternal value. He says there are people in the world who talk about humanity and its problems. He adds, ‘I have written a lot of protest songs and have performed at some organized protests in Boston and New York’. He describes himself as ‘an antiwar folk singer’. 'No War' is another protest anthem. He says that this is an ‘anti-war song I wrote in 1991 during the first US war of aggression against Iraq. For Memorial Day on May 28-no more war dead !!’ . ‘No War on Iraq’ is another peace protest number.

He says that he wrote this song ‘against Bush's and Obama's sick and murderous war on the Iraqi people and also on Afghanistan and Pakistan’. His personal message is ‘STOP THE U.S. WARS -- Let's all live in peace, love, and freedom’.

He has also written love songs like I Only Feel This Way With YouThe Stars In Your Eyes and See You On Sunday. About the latter, our artist says ‘the song about Sunday love I wrote a few years ago -- but we all know romance can never be as pure in real life as it is in a song’. He is right. Life is full of harsh realities that Michael tries to present in a transformed way through his songs. At the same time, he tries to present a picture of what the ailing humanity feels about its problems. He joins protests and photographs protesters and their rallies. 

In fact, the whole world has a collective dream of achieving peace in the world. Conferences and seminars are held around the world where researchers and scholars discuss how the world can achieve true peace. Albert Einstein said, ‘“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding”. When we say we want peace in the world, we, usually, mean the absence of violence. Even if there is absence of war in the world, there may still be conflicts in the form of cold wars. Therefore, real peace goes beyond mere absence of violence. Real peace refers to the cultivation of right consciousness that brings man in harmony with the world. This is what Laini Taylor means when she says, ‘Peace is more than the absence of war. Peace is accord and harmony’. While peace activists appeal for getting rid of violence and conflicts in the world, there are poets and singers who sing about developing this deeper peace-friendly consciousness. This is what Borkson tries to do with is songs for world peace. 

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