Photo: The new voice of Ukraine – HB
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The full-scale invasion of Ukraine, started by Russia on February, 24, 2022, has forever divided the lives of millions of Ukrainians in «before» and «after». This war isn’t just a Ukrainian fight for its sovereignty and independence. It is a fight of the entire civilized world against the aggressor country, and this fight aims to save its unity and safety. That’s why Ukraine has extremely powerful support from the international community. From the very first day of this war, many public figures – not only from Ukraine, but from abroad as well – in different ways expressed their thoughts concerning the Russian attack. Some decided to share supportive words to Ukrainians; some initiated a fundraising to help Ukraine and refugees forced to find shelters in other countries; some even managed to direct a part of their art to the Ukrainian cultural front.
People of almost all the occupations have spoken about Ukraine: starting with sportsmen, like footballers and Formula-1 pilots, and ending with scientists and engineers (who despite everything kindly help Ukraine to resolve issues with unstable Internet-connection in particular regions). The war has united hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. They gathered together to stop the inadequate ambitions of the Russian Federation’s president and its inhabitants. It’s necessary for people to speak about this war, because the fight in the information shield is important as well and can possibly play a key role in the entire war.
Artists, especially rock-musicians, belong to a special category. Noticeably, most of them (musicians and bands) support Ukraine, which is very important – not only for telling the truth to the world, but also for lifting the Ukrainians’ morale and motivation.
Brian May, a 74-year-old rock-musician and a guitar player of the band Queen, appeared to be one of the first who spoke out about the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. On his Instagram page, on February, 25, May published a photograph during the concert in Kharkiv in 2008:
«So many great memories of great times in Ukraine. This picture is of our unforgettable show night in Freedom Square, Kharkiv in 2008.»
Brian May asked the world to pay attention to the Russian invasion, as well as expressed his sympathy and prayer for peace. The musician is famous because of his activism and pacifistic views, that’s why he once again appealed his audience, having edited the first version of the publication:
«My sympathies are non-political. They are with the common decent people of ALL countries who do not want their families to experience war.»
Moreover, May limited the access to commenting on this publication, that’s why his and Queen fans will not be able to express their thoughts about this issue. The musician says that some comments may be used «as a channel for misinformation». In the middle of March, the band launched a YouTube translation from their concert in Kharkiv with the possibility of donating to Ukraine. Brian May’s position remains clear: supporting Ukraine and condemning the world’s inactivity concerning this war.
On that day, Jon Anderson, the former member of the band Yes, published a Facebook post, where he prayed for all the people of Ukraine, who had to face this appalling war. Furthermore, on March, 11, he made a second publication about the war in Ukraine. Frightened by the full-scale Russian invasion, the musician added a link to his «Song For Peace». The music video consists of the footage with the dreadful reality that Ukrainians had to meet, including bombed neighborhoods and injured, but unconquered people. The second part of the video gives much more hope and confidence in the bright future. Peaceful photographs of Ukrainian people wearing national clothes, holding blue-and-yellow flags and having determined look replace previous dramatic pictures. Nowadays, this composition, released in 1986, takes on a brand new meaning.
The words of support have arisen from Paul McCartney (the member of the legendary The Beatles), who also made some publications with the photos from the concert in Kyiv in his social media; еhe members of the band The Who, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, have shared their thoughts too, adding a tweet with the Howard Zinn’s quote and expressing their position:
«There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people,» – Howard Zinn
«We stand by the people of Ukraine at this particularly harrowing time as we will stand for all who’s freedoms are violated,» – Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend
On the official Instagram-page of the Deep Purple band there was published a picture of the band’s logo in blue and yellow colors and with the song passage «Child n Time» below. In this way, Deep Purple support the Ukrainians, who courageously fight against Russian aggression. The song lyrics nicely characterizes the whole situation and the reality that Ukrainian people have to struggle with:
«Sweet child in time
You’ll see the line
The line that’s drawn between
Good and bad
See the blind man
Shooting at the world
Mick Jagger, the member of The Rolling Stones, shared a link to the international organization Global Citizen, through which it became possible to help Ukraine. Elton John, a well-known English rock-musician, was one of the first artists who called his audience to join in supporting Ukraine. On his Instagram-page, the singer published a photograph of the Ukrainian flag in Kyiv, having written some supportive words and mentioned his Elton John AIDS Foundation. He added that «...we stand for an end to the violence and suffering in Ukraine so that life-saving services and humanitarian aid can reach those desperately in need».
A Scottish musician and a rock-band Dire Straits member Mark Knopfler also doesn’t remain indifferent concerning the war in Ukraine. There was a note from the Red Cross to Ukraine published on his official website. It’s mentioned there that the musician supports the organization’s initiative to help the Ukrainians. Moreover, there is also a call to help Ukrainian people and a link to the corresponding page of the Red Cross website. It’s worth mentioning that the Red Cross was seen into several inconvenient situations concerning the evacuation of the civil people from the dangerous places. It becomes difficult to analyze the relevance of the similar worries and «aid». The Doors band as well didn’t remain aside from everything that Ukraine has to go through. A publication on the band’s official Facebook page offers all the fans to buy a branded T-shirt with a blue and yellow band’s logo. 100% of the price will be transferred to the International Rescue Committee account and to be directed to help Ukraine.
Some rock-musicians took on more radical and practical actions. Regarding the Russian’s armed aggression, some of them decided to cancel their planned shows – not only for their personal safety, but also expressing their protest and sympathy in such a way. On their official website, the Jethro Tull band canceled (actually, postponed) their show in Ukraine, which had to take place on April, 8, 2022, adding that their «thoughts are with Ukraine». Ian Anderson, the band’s leader, commented on this issue on his Facebook page. He shared his horror and disgust in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, wished Ukrainians to be strong and made sure that he and the whole band support the Ukrainian people.
The Australian rock-musician and the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds band leader Nick Cave canceled his shows as well, not only in Ukraine, but also on the territory of the aggressor country. On the official Twitter account, the band’s representative broadly commented on this decision. It’s mentioned there that the band cannot perform neither in Ukraine, nor in Russia, due to the obvious reasons. However, the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds band supports both Ukrainians, who have to defend their independency, and Russians, who disagree with putin’s regime:
«Ukraine, we stand with you, and with all those in Russia who oppose this brutal act, and we pray that this madness is brought to a close soon,» – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Nick Mason, a member of the British band Pink Floyd, also declared that he cancels his shows in the territory of the aggressor country. This post was published in the beginning of March on his Facebook page. Pink Floyd’s representative announced that they delete all their recordings, starting from 1987, from the music platforms for Russian and Belarusian users. The music that’s written before this year belongs not only to the today’s band membership – David Gilmour and Nick Mason – but also to Roger Waters, who decided to leave the band in 1986. In terms of Waters personally, he is famous for his specific and somewhat contradictory views, and his position that he shared in his social media, also remains ambiguous. On the one hand, the musician condemns putin, but on the other hand, he spoke in a very doubtful way about the full-scale war in Ukraine.
As a solidarity gesture, David Gilmour added a Ukrainian flag to his profile pictures in his social media, and then on March, 1, he shareda publication, where he criticizes Russian regime and warns people against the total destruction of Ukraine:
«Russian soldiers, stop killing your brothers. There will be no winners in this war. My daughter-in-law is Ukrainian and my grand-daughters want to visit and know their beautiful country. Stop this before it is all destroyed. Putin must go.»
The guitar player also mentioned his relatives, who have Ukrainian roots and want to visit Ukraine. Furthermore, Gilmour added a music video on his song «In Any Tongue», which contains anti-war lyrics and which, surprisingly, nicely resonates with the reality of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.
But even at this point the band didn’t stop. In the beginning of April, Pink Floyd, together with Andriy Khlyvnyuk, the lead singer of the Boombox band, released a sensational song «Hey, Hey, Rise Up». Khlyvnyuk, who joined Ukrainian Armed Forces in the beginning of the war, after being injured had a video call with Gilmour. Later, they announced the release of a new song – the music accompaniment to the emotional version of the «Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow», a Ukrainian song that Khlyvnyuk sang a-cappella in Sophia Square in Kyiv during the first days of the invasion. This performance of the well-known song acquired a new dramatic sense, becoming a symbol of perseverance, determination, and resistance of the Ukrainians. «Hey, Hey, Rise Up», except the Ukrainian singer’s vocal, has a traditional Pink Floyd’s sound and stunning David Gilmour’s guitar solo. The music video contains the magnificent footage with the musicians, which mixes with the footage of the Ukrainian resistance.
Some rock-musicians, such as Bono from U2, expressed their worries and concerns regarding the war in Ukraine through personal interpretation of the Ukrainian culture’s works. On the official Instagram page, the musician added some supportive words to Ukrainians:
«The world is watching. The Ukrainian people are teaching the rest of the world what freedom looks like, what freedom feels like, and most importantly what freedom acts like. The bully in the neighborhood will not prevail. Bless your poetic souls. We keep you in our prayers.»
Moreover, there was published a reading of Shevchenko’s poem «To dead, to living, and to unborn…» in English. The reading of a short passage, including the poem’s title and epigraph, is accompanied by a light piano melody. In addition to this, a stylized illustration of the Ukrainian flag with a red heart in the center and some details around is portrayed in the music video. In this way, U2 demonstrates their solidarity with Ukrainian people, our cultural heritage, and our national idea. But the musicians didn’t stop even at this point: at the beginning of May, a band even made it to Kyiv, giving a concert in a «Khreshchatyk» station of the Kyiv underground. Taras Topolya, a lead singer of the Antytila band, joined U2, and together they sang a song to the Kyiv citizens, Armed Forces and Territorial Defense members, and volunteers.
An American singer and a 30 Seconds to Mars member Jared Leto, who has visited Ukraine several times, couldn’t remain aside from this tragedy. On his Instagram page, an artist published a photograph from one of the concerts in Ukraine, where he holds a Ukrainian flag. In the description, he shared some encouraging words, addressed not only to the Ukrainians, but also to the fans from all over the world. Some days later, the musician started a live stream, where he chatted with a couple of Ukrainians, and even sang a part from the song about Odesa.
Sting, an English musician, has also paid his attention to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the beginning of March, he posted a new version of his song «Russians» that was originally released almost 40 years ago. He admitted that this song, written under the influence of the Cold War, wasn’t performed frequently. Sting couldn’t even think that it would become relevant once again:
«For the brave Ukrainians fighting against this brutal tyranny and also the many Russians who are protesting this outrage despite the threat of arrest and imprisonment – We, all of us, love our children. Stop the war.»
With these words, the musician referred to his audience, and later he mentioned that all the money from the release of the new version of the song will be transferred to the Help Ukraine Center.
Rock-musicians not only express sympathy, but also their delight with the unbreakable spirit and unity of the Ukrainian people. Now, we became an example of true fighters for freedom. We are a nation that clearly knows what we aim to, and we have a very strong motivation to keep on this resistance, because we know what we fight for. Art cannot remain separate from politics, that’s why the artists’ support, for example musicians’, is crucial. Rock-fans are a very united community, and usually they are conscious people. Consequently, when rock-bands or artists on their own raise this issue in their social media, there is an extremely high level that it will acquire a big resonance, and the world will hear thousands of voices. Ukrainians were and will always remain a strong and motivated nation, being a role model for others. We will keep on fighting for our victory, and in the end light will win over darkness.
By Alina Mitrofanova
Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Lviv Now is an English-language website for Lviv, Ukraine’s «tech-friendly cultural hub.» It is produced by Tvoe Misto («Your City») media-hub, which also hosts regular problem-solving public forums to benefit the city and its people.