Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Happy Birthday, Buffy!

Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie turns 78 today.

Happy Birthday, Buffy!

As regulars readers will know, I’ve long admired Buffy Sainte-Marie and enjoyed her music. Indeed, I find her to be a very inspiring figure. (I even chose her song "It's My Way" as my theme song when I turned 50 in 2015!)

Left: With Buffy after her August 26, 2016 performance at The Dakota in Minneapolis.

I particularly appreciate and am inspired by Buffy's passion and purposefulness – and by the way she blends her art and social activism. I’ve seen her four times in concert, and had the privilege of meeting and talking with her on three of these occasions. She’s creative, articulate, warm, and funny – a very human human being, in other words.

Buffy's most recent album is the award-winning Medicine Songs (2017), about which Buffy says the following.

[Medicine Songs] is a collection of front line songs about unity and resistance – some brand new and some classics – and I want to put them to work. These are songs I've been writing for over fifty years, and what troubles people today are still the same damn issues from 30-40-50 years ago: war, oppression, inequity, violence, rankism of all kinds, the pecking order, bullying, racketeering and systemic greed. Some of these songs come from the other side of that: positivity, common sense, romance, equity and enthusiasm for life.

[. . .] I really want this collection of songs to be like medicine, to be of some help or encouragement, to maybe do some good. Songs can motivate you and advance your own ideas, encourage and support collaborations and be part of making change globally and at home. They do that for me and I hope this album can be positive and provide thoughts and remedies that rock your world and inspire new ideas of your own.

For The Wild Reed's special post featuring highlights from a number of reviews of Medicine Songs, along with an insightful interview with Buffy, click here.

Above: Buffy and guitarist Anthony King performing at the Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield, WI on Saturday, August 27, 2016. (Photo: Michael J. Bayly)

In celebrating Buffy today at The Wild Reed I share the music video for her song, “The War Racket” (from Medicine Songs), along with Maggie Rahr's review of Andrea Warner's Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography, released last September. Rahr's review, entitled “Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Merriment and Perseverance Shine Through in New Biography,” was first published September 26, 2018 by The Glode and Mail.

Ooo, you’re slick – you investors in hate
You Saddams and you Bushes,
you Bin Ladens and snakes
You billionaire bullies,
you’re a globalized curse
You put war on the masses
and then you clean out the purse

And that’s how it’s done, war after war
You old feudal parasites
you just sacrifice the poor
You got the cutting edge weapons
but your scam’s still the same
as it’s been since the Romans:
It’s the patriot game
Well, that's the war racket
That’s the war racket

You twisters of language,
you creeps of disguise
Your disinformation –
it's like worms in your eyes
You privileged bankers,
you gambler thieves
You profit on war, you think
there's just less money in peace.

That’s how it’s done, time after time,
In country after country
and crime after crime.
You pretend it’s religion
as if there’s no one to blame
for your dead and impoverished
in your little patriot game;
Honey, that's the war racket.

We got the world's greatest power
and you team up with thugs.
Make a fortune on weapons,
destruction and drugs.
But your flags and boots and uniforms
they start to all smell the same
when both sides are killing
in your little patriot game..

And that’s how it’s done
and you’ve got our sons
in the crosshairs of horror
at the end of your guns
But your national anthems
they start to all smell like shame
when all sides are dying
in the patriot game

And war is never, ever holy
It’s just a greedy men’s dream
And you two-faced crusaders –
both sides are obscene.
War is not made by God,
war is just made by men
who misdirect our attention
while you thieves do your thing

And that’s how it’s done
About every 30 years
The rich fill their bank accounts
The poor fill with tears
The young fill the coffins
The old hang a wreath
The politicians get photographed
with their names underneath.
It’s the war racket
It’s just the war racket

– Buffy Sainte-Marie


Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Merriment and Perseverance
Shine Through in New Biography

By Maggie Rahr

The Globe and Mail
September 29, 2018

At just 22, Buffy Sainte-Marie was boarding and disembarking flights across North America, performing for intimate crowds in not-yet legendary folk coffee houses of the sixties, when she made a preternatural decision.

In her purse she began carrying with her, recorded on cassettes, the voices of then-unknowns: Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen.

Sainte-Marie, only just coming to prominence in the United States, hoped to deliver the urgent and bursting poetry of her young peers to gatekeepers she’d earned access to, who might open doors for them.

This is just one of many quietly revealing moments readers ought to pause to consider in Andrea Warner’s new authorized biography, which illustrates how the iconic singer-songwriter, activist and educator changed the landscape of modern music not only with her idiosyncratic voice and self-taught, compositional style, but with her ears – and her capacity to lift others.

Mitchell, decades later, would go on to write the foreword for this very book: “Buffy Sainte-Marie is one of folk music’s unsung heroes and her inspirational life is a story that deserves to be read.”

Longtime fans and careful listeners of Sainte-Marie’s will find details that are charming and relatable, as well as heartbreaking and never before discussed in previous interviews.

The book doesn’t read like your typical sixties music biography, as such tropes wouldn’t match Sainte-Marie’s ascension: There are no lurid tales of adultery or drug-fuelled parties either legendary, regrettable or both. The collection’s selling point isn’t in the salacious or tragic, but instead may be found in a direct pondering and revisiting of years past, in the way a long conversation over a cup of tea might be absorbed.

Those who are familiar with Warner’s work as a CBC music journalist, will recognize her writing tone – one that welcomes us to imagine what the 60-some hours of phone conversations between Buffy Sainte-Marie and the author that preceded the book itself, might have sounded like.

"We talked twice a week, for two hours each time,” Warner says. The two spoke on the phone regularly over the nearly two-month stretch, with Warner calling from Vancouver and Sainte-Marie based in Hawaii.

Eventually they met in person, on tour, and in Warner’s neighbourhood, at a cat café, where Sainte-Marie quickly settled in on the floor, instantly connecting with a handful of cats, as naturally as if she were at home.

For Sainte-Marie, the experience of revisiting the story of her life (up to now – it’s by no means slowed down) has been akin to this: “Confirmation. Like a movie of your wedding. It’s such a blur while it’s going on that seeing it later kinda anchors it down to reality.”

“For working musicians on the road, we don’t experience the calendar rhythms of weekdays-weekends work-rest around which most people build their lives and snapshots,” Sainte-Marie writes in an e-mail.

“So I kind of lack the usual life milestones and goal posts that would mark a personal linear ‘album.’”

This – being expected to divulge the most intimate details of one’s life, only to end up crunched into a headline – is nothing new for Sainte-Marie. But the conversations with Warner were different. More spacious. There was time to unpack the full story,

With each passing week, Warner became more enamoured with her subject.

“[She’s] so incredibly smart … so down to earth. ... That’s Buffy.”

The interviews (Warner was armed with “a lifetime of questions”) often fell into natural conversations and eventually passed the slotted two-hour mark every time. In one exchange, Warner found herself explaining the term “gaslighting” to Sainte-Marie, who she knew had likely experienced it herself without having a word for it.

In the book, Sainte-Marie describes the core of her activism, “decolonization,” the same way. “We knew what it was, we just didn’t have a word for it.”

The musician’s quotes lift off the page. On the subject of being an educator, Warner writes that the artist is, “Gentle, but firm. Her words are an education, not a lecture.”

Buffy’s version: “You don’t give it to people in an enema.”

Warner’s narrative tracks Sainte-Marie’s life from birth on the Piapot Plains Cree First Nation Reserve in Qu’Appelle, Sask., her childhood with her adopted family in the United States – the exact date and circumstances surrounding her adoption are unknown, a painful and common casualty of the time – and some five decades spent both in and out of the spotlight in good measure, across the United States and the world.

Born under the name Beverly (and still called so, fondly, by some old friends quoted in the book) the musician showed great promise in both singing and composing by the mere age of three. By university, she was playing guitar with the then yet-to-be discovered Taj Mahal, who sought her out in the stairwell of the University of Massachusetts where she studied.

Sainte-Marie’s memories and observations, in her own words, are tidily and poetically inserted throughout the book, in interludes that appear between chapters.

“I’m surprised I get any credit,” one such interlude begins, a stunningly raw admission in itself, given that it’s coming from a legendary singular talent who has been largely overlooked in the North American cultural canon of musical heroes and activist groundbreakers.

Sainte-Marie isn’t digging for compliments. She’s simply sharing a straightforward personal take: demonstrating a rare, deep humility and groundedness from someone who has been famous since the beginning of her adulthood. It’s often been suggested in popular culture that celebrities who rise to fame at a young age are somehow fossilized at that nascent age, if not lost to the ravages of fame.

If anything, Sainte-Marie, or what we can conjure of her from the pages and from her music, seems to have manifested just the opposite – somehow spanning both youthful exuberance and wisdom in her 78th year.

Warner, for her part, explains her subject’s omission from our mainstream cultural touchstones in this way: “Music journalism was white, straight, male for so long,” she says plainly. “It’s not that people want to exclude her voice, I think they just didn’t understand . . . or listen . . . or analyze their own complicity in it.”

But Sainte-Marie holds no bitterness. In fact, she sees the arrival of this book as a kind of introduction.

“I’m pretty serious for somebody who has so much fun and I’m a lot of fun for somebody who has also engaged with tragedy.”

The admiration isn’t one sided either. Sainte-Marie has plenty of good things to say about Warner.

“Because Andrea captures that merry side of me that many writers either have not gotten in the first place, or have seen edited down in favour of a heavy-handed headline, it is kind of a public coming-out of my merry side.”

Merriment and perseverance together – the image Warner’s writing casts is one of an insightful leader, whose commitment to joy in learning has only grown over the years. This is at the heart of the biography – one which arguably is decades overdue.

– Maggie Rahr
The Globe and Mail
September 29, 2018


For The Wild Reed's special series of posts leading-up to the November 10, 2017 release of Medicine Songs, see:
For Acclaimed Songwriter, Activist and Humanitarian Buffy Sainte-Marie, the World is Always Ripening
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "I'm Creative Anywhere"
Buffy Sainte-Marie Headlines SummerStage Festival in NYC's Central Park
Buffy Sainte-Marie, "One of the Best Performers Out Touring Today"
The Music of Buffy Sainte-Marie: "Uprooting the Sources of Disenfranchisement"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Medicine Songs

For The Wild Reed's special series of posts leading-up to the May 12, 2015 release of Buffy's award-winning album, Power in the Blood, see:
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That "Human-Being Magic"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Lesson from the Cutting Edge: "Go Where You Must to Grow"
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "Sometimes You Have to Be Content to Plant Good Seeds and Be Patient"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Power in the Blood

For more of Buffy Sainte-Marie at The Wild Reed, see:
A Music Legend Visits the North Country: Buffy Sainte-Marie in Minnesota and Wisconsin – August 2016
Two Exceptional Singers Take a Chance on the "Spirit of the Wind"
Photo of the Day – January 21, 2017
Buffy Sainte-Marie Wins 2015 Polaris Music Prize
Congratulations, Buffy
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2016)
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2018)
Actually, There's No Question About It
For Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Well-Deserved Honor
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Still Singing with Spirit, Joy, and Passion
Something Special for Indigenous Peoples Day
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "The Big Ones Get Away"

Related Off-site Links:
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Authorized Biography Serves As a "Map Of Hope" – Scott Simon and Ian Stewart (NPR News, September 29, 2018)
Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jess Moskaluke, and The Dead South Lead Saskatchewan Artists Nominated for Junos – Spencer Leigh (The Independent, January 9, 2018)
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "I Constantly Ask Myself, Where Are the Great Protest Songs of Today? Are People Deaf and Blind?"Regina Leader-Post, (February 6, 2018).
Music as Medicine: Buffy Sainte-Marie Talks Politics, Sex Scandals and Her Brand New Album – Rosanna Deerchild (CBC Radio's Unreserved, November 19, 2017)
Buffy Sainte-Marie Takes a Stand with Medicine SongsET Canada (November 30, 2017).
Buffy Sainte-Marie Makes Music for a New Generation of Activists – Tom Power (CBC Radio, November 17, 2017).
The Unbreakable Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Candid Conversation with the Resilient Songwriter and Activist – Whitney Phaneuf (Acoustic Guitar, January 18, 2017).

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Something to Think About . . .

Related Off-site Links:
Bernie Sanders Announces 2020 Presidential Run – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, February 19, 2019).
Sen. Bernie Sanders Confirms 2020 Presidential Run – Nina Golgowski and Maxwell Strachan (The Huffington Post, February 19, 2019).
Bernie Enters the 2020 Race With Defiant Anti-Trump Rhetoric – Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone, February 19, 2019).
The Progressive Hope for a Sanders’ Presidency – Peter Bloom (Common Dreams, February 19, 2019).
Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and Breaking Up Wall Street: Here’s What’s on Bernie Sanders’ 2020 Agenda – Rex Santus (VICE News, February 19, 2019).
There Is Only One True Choice for Progressives in 2020 – Norman Solomon (TruthDig, February 19, 2019).
Bernie Sanders' 2020 Campaign Raises More Than $1 million in Less Than 4 Hours – Ed O'Keefe (CBS News, February 19, 2019).
Bernie Sanders Hires Top Progressive Advocate, Faiz Shakir, as Campaign Manager – Gideon Resnick, Spencer Ackerman, and Sam Stein (Daily Beast, February 19, 2019).
Bernie Sanders Is Going to Win the Democratic Primary, and It's Going to Be Easy – Shane Ryan (Paste, February 19, 2019).
Bernie Sanders Is the Democratic Front-Runner – Edward-Isaac Dovere (The Atlantic, February 19, 2019).
The Naysayers Are Wrong. Bernie Sanders Is a Formidable 2020 Contender – Michael Tracey (The Federalist, February 19, 2019).
Why Bernie Sanders' Radicalism Can Take Out Trump – Nathan Robinson (The Guardian, February 19, 2019).
Bernie Sanders Is Running – and America Just Might Be Ready to Elect a Democratic Socialist – John Nichols (The Nation, February 19, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Carrying It On
Progressive Perspectives on the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Quote of the Day – November 9, 2016
Quote of the Day – January 21, 2017
Something to Think About – January 22, 2017
Quote of the Day – September 7, 2017
Quote of the Day – January 8, 2019

Artwork: Humerus1.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Saying “No” to Trump’s “Patently Illegal Power Grab”

This past Saturday, February 16, I joined with several hundred others for a rally and march against President Donald Trump's declaration of a State of Emergency by which he intends funding the building of a wall on the southern U.S./Mexico border.

Those who rallied on Saturday view the building of this wall, a pet project of Trump since his presidential campaign in 2016, as an appeal to his base and as a means of further promoting his racist, anti-immigrant agenda.

Saturday's rally and march took place in south Minneapolis and was hosted by MIRAC (Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee) and a number of other Twin Cities-based organizations, including the Anti-War Committee, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), Immigrant Movement for Justice, Minnesota Caravan Solidarity, and Students for a Democratic Society at UMN.

Accompanying my photos of Saturday's event, is Julia Conley's February 15 Common Dreams article, "Calling Emergency Declaration a 'Patently Illegal Power Grab,' ACLU Sues Trump."

President Donald Trump's prediction that he'll be taken to court over his national emergency declaration proved correct on Friday afternoon, with the ACLU announcing it would file one of several lawsuits against the Trump administration over the "blatantly illegal" move.

The organization noted in a statement that the president openly admitted the national emergency declaration, which he made to obtain funding for a wall at the southern U.S. border is unnecessary—bolstering the ACLU's case.

"By the president's very own admission in the Rose Garden, there is no national emergency," said executive director Anthony Romero. "He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress, and decided to move along his promise for a border wall 'faster.' This is a patently illegal power grab that hurts American communities and flouts the checks and balances that are hallmarks of our democracy."

Cecillia Wang, deputy legal director for the group, outlined how the president's declaration violates U.S. law in a video posted to Twitter.

"The president's action in declaring this bogus national emergency is...illegal and dangerously strikes at the heart of our democracy and our checks and balances because Congress has already enacted our laws that describe exactly when a president can declare a national emergency," said Wang. "Because there is no emergency—only the one in President Trump's head for his own political purposes—he has violated our American laws."

The ACLU is building a case arguing that Trump's use of the emergency declaration to evade Congressional funding rules is "unprecedented" as well as unconstitutional:

10 U.S.C. § 2808, the emergency power that Trump has invoked, cannot be used to build a border wall. Congress restricted the use of that power to military construction projects, like overseas military airfields in wartime, that "are necessary to support" the emergency use of armed forces.

The group plans to file the suit early next week, Romero said.

Other groups challenging Trump's action include Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), whose suit is aimed at obtaining documents related to the White House decision,and Public Citizen, suing on behalf of landowners and an environmental group located along the Texas border.

Protect Democracy and the Niskanen Center are also filing a lawsuit on behalf of El Paso County and the Border Network for Human Rights, arguing that "there is no legal basis for issuing" an emergency declaration and accusing Trump of presiding over the country as an autocrat.

"Throughout history, autocrats have used so-called emergency powers to seize control from democratic systems that don't yield to their will," said Kristy Parker, co-counsel for the pending lawsuit. "Often, they have invented fake crises for this purpose and we should all be extremely alarmed that President Trump has reached for this tool in the autocrat's toolkit."

"Thankfully, our founders also knew that the seizing of legislative powers by the executive was, in the words of James Madison, 'the very definition of tyranny' and made it unlawful," she added. "It's unlawful here and we look forward to the courts upholding our framers' vision."

– Julia Conley
Common Dreams
Fenruary 15, 2019

Related Off-site Links:
A Weak and Rambling President Declares a Fake National Emergency – John Cassidy (The New Yorker, February 15, 2019).
Trump Is Our One-Man National Emergency – Michael Winship (Common Dreams, February 17, 2019).
Why We Must Stop an Unstable Trump and His Dangerous National Emergency Declaration – Robert Weissman (Common Dreams, February 15, 2019).
Trump’s Emergency Declaration Shows He Is Unfit for Office – Jonathan Chait (New York Magazine, February 15, 2019).
Troops Do Not View Immigration as a ‘National Emergency.’ Not Even Close – Joshua Axelrod (Military Times, February 15, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Prayer for Asylum Seekers Being Tear-Gassed at the Border
Opposing the Trump Administration's Inhumane Treatment of Immigrant Families
Something to Think About – November 27, 2018
"What We're Seeing Here Is a Tipping Point"
No Room for Them
Something to Think About – December 25, 2016
2000+ Take to the Streets of Minneapolis to Express Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees
Something to Think About – December 25, 2012
Trump's America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
Trump's Playbook
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump
Election Eve Thoughts
Carrying It On
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Carl Anderson's Judas: “A Two-Dimensional Popular Villain Turned Into a Complex Human Being”

The Wild Reed’s celebration of singer and actor Carl Anderson continues!

It’s actually a month-long celebration, as February is the month of both Carl’s birth (in 1945) and death (in 2004, at age 58).

In this fourth installment of The Wild Reed’s celebration of Carl, I share (with added images) a second excerpt from P. Djeli Clark’s insightful article, “My Own Personal Judas: Revisiting Jesus Christ Superstar.” (For the first excerpt, click here.)

This second excerpt focuses on Carl’s groundbreaking portrayal of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, in the 1973 film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's celebrated rock opera.

As Clark notes: “In the end, we realize [Jesus Christ Superstar] isn’t really about Jesus. It’s about Judas. He is at the heart of the story. . . . It is the Passion of the Christ told from Judas’s perspective.”


The film begins with Judas (Carl Anderson) breaking away from the others – a continual loner set apart; in some ways, much like Jesus.

Dressed in all red with his chest out, he sits atop a crag of rock surveying Jesus and the other disciples. And he isn’t happy. In a lengthy heartfelt soliloquy set to an ominous guitar string, he sings, My mind is clearer now . . . at last all too well, I can see where we all soon will be.

Jesus, he believes, has become reckless. He’s let all this “son of God” talk in the streets go to his head, and has put himself above his ideals. This, Judas laments, the Romans will not take lightly. Has Jesus forgotten how put down his people are by the Romans? Has he forgotten that at any moment the Empire could crush them, ending all the good they’ve accomplished?

Nor does Judas buy into the adoration of the crowds. Super stardom is fleeting, he says critically. You have set them all on fire, they think they’ve found the new Messiah. [But] they’ll hurt you when they find they’re wrong.

More than anything, Judas wants to be heard. He wants Jesus to listen, before it’s too late. The rest of the disciples are blind, he wails in disgust, “too much heaven on their minds.” He begs Jesus to abandon the super stardom and return to the simple days, for his sake, their sake and the sake of his nation. But Judas’s cries come from far away, atop a hilltop that sits as a metaphor for the distance that has grown up between the two men. And his words are wasted on the wind, never reaching his leader’s ears.

That scene alone establishes Anderson’s powerful delivery of a Judas we aren’t at all familiar with.

This Judas is tormented, angry and scornful – but with reason. He is disgusted not only with the popularity he sees swirling about Jesus, but that Jesus as well buys into it – even seems to promote it.

He questions the claims of divinity and sees Jesus instead as just a man, who in the end will lead both his followers and his people into a destructive confrontation with the Romans. After Jesus angrily attacks the money lenders in the temple (who sell everything from sex to military artillery) Judas comes to believe his leader has lost his mind.

Sitting in contemplation, he watches a set of Roman tanks. Seeming to visualize what could happen were the full might of the Roman Empire brought to bear upon them, he decides Jesus has to be stopped. What he does is for the good of all, not “blood money.” He only asks that for his actions, he not be “damned for all time.”

The climax in the conflict between both men is intense. When Jesus announces that one of his followers will betray him, a fed up Judas jumps up and declares “cut the dramatics you know very well who!” His anger has boiled over into seething hatred. “To think I’d admired you,” he spits. “Well now I despise you!”

Jesus angrily denounces him as a liar and tells him to go, not wanting to hear his excuses. For a brief moment, the two men clasp, and you remember they were once companions, a teacher and a pupil, comrades in a struggle. In both their faces there’s a moment of pain and regret. “Every time I look at you,” a frustrated Judas moans, “I don’t understand, why you let the things you did get so out of hand.” He flees to complete his deed. It’s the last time the two will speak.

. . . After bearing witness to Jesus being scourged, [Judas] runs back to the Pharisees to say this isn’t what he had agreed to. He cries out he would save Jesus if he could and seems overwrought by guilt. But the priests scornfully mock his remorse, reminding him of his willful role. In the end Judas realizes he’s been duped. But it’s not the Pharisees he blames. It’s not Jesus. It’s not even the Romans. In a final moment of clarity he looks up to the heavens, and he realizes that this was planned all along. Not by any men. This was planned by God. The one character who never makes an appearance in Jesus Christ Superstar but has been there all along.

God as ultimately responsible for this tragedy has been alluded to all along. Jesus says wearily earlier that the path he is on was started by God. Pontius Pilate calls Jesus a puppet. But who is pulling the strings?

“I’m sick!” Judas declares at his new-found revelation. “I’ve been used!” He runs about the desert aimlessly – as if trying to futilely escape the omnipresent Almighty. “You knew all the time,” he accuses. “God . . . I’ll never know why you chose me for YOUR crime!” Declaring God his murderer with his last breath, Judas hangs himself.

In a final sequence he returns as a spirit surrounded by what appear to be angels, or perhaps demons, and continues his philosophical questions while in other scenes Jesus is marched to his crucifixion. Who is Jesus? What has he sacrificed? Does he truly think he’s who the stories claim him to be? How do you separate the myth from the man? His questions go unanswered, echoed seemingly throughout eternity.

In the end, we realize this play isn’t really about Jesus. It’s about Judas. He is at the heart of the story. Though we get other perspectives, it is Judas we’re always drawn back to. It is the Passion of the Christ told from Judas’s perspective.

It ends much as we expect. But the motives and reasoning are given new depth and contours. Judas isn’t just the black betrayer in the Webber/Rice retelling, he is the black anti-hero. He is a two-dimensional popular villain now turned into a complex human being. Even if you don’t take his side in the end, you certainly understand it.

– P. Djeli Clark
Excerpted from "My Own Personal Judas:
Revisiting Jesus Christ Superstar
Phenderson Djèlí Clark
April 18, 2014

Related Off-site Link:
Controversial Judas – Caroline Blyth (Auckland Theology & Religious Studies, December 20, 2016).

For more of Carl Anderson at The Wild Reed, see:
Remembering and Celebrating Carl Anderson
Carl Anderson: “Pure Quality”
Carl Anderson's Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar: “The Gold Standard”
Carl Anderson: “One of the Most Enjoyable Male Vocalists of His Era”
With Love Inside
Carl Anderson
Acts of Love . . . Carl's and Mine
Introducing . . . the Carl Anderson Appreciation Group
Forbidden Lover
Revisiting a Groovy Jesus (and a Dysfunctional Theology)