Author Haruki Murakami plays anti-war songs on the radio to protest the war in Ukraine


TOKYO: Playing James Taylor’s ‘Never Die Young’ and returning to songs that shaped the anti-war movement in the 1960s, author Haruki Murakami added his voice to the protests against the war in Ukraine with a special edition of his Japanese radio show.

“Does music have the power to stop war? Unfortunately, the answer is no,” Murakami said.

“But he has the power to make listeners believe that war is something we need to stop.”

For Friday’s 55-minute show “Music to End War,” broadcast across Japan by Tokyo FM, Murakami chose 10 tracks from his record and CD collections at home that “according to me best fit our theme”.

Some were simpler anti-war songs and others “songs that deal with the importance of human life, love and dignity, they can be considered anti-war songs in a more large”.

“Lyrics are going to play a big part in tonight’s show, so make sure you keep an ear out,” Murakami reminded his listeners.

“By the end of the show, I have a feeling you’ll be more inspired to end the war. Time will tell.”

For some songs, he repeated passages from the lyrics which he translated into Japanese in his own words, adding historical context that included racial and social disparities while conveying the message of anger, grief, and love.

Anti-war songs from the 1960s included “Cruel War” by Peter, Paul & Mary, which he used to play as part of a folk song group in high school, and “Unknown Soldier” by The Doors, which he remembered always playing on the radio. in his college days.

With his youthful years straddling the anti-war movement, his lyrics and song choice gave deeper meaning and relevance to the conflict in Ukraine.

He opened his program with James Taylor’s “Never Die Young”, a song aimed at young people in the city who are losing their lives to drugs and crime.

“There is a clear link here with young people sent to war,” he said.

“In a war started by an older generation, it’s the younger generation who lay down their lives. It’s been that way for a long time, and it’s really heartbreaking.”

As he played “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream,” written by folk singer Ed McCurdy in 1950, he recalled the year the Korean War began, the Cold War escalated, and the threat of nuclear war escalated.

Murakami chose the version performed by the Weavers, whose records were banned from radio due to their anti-war message.

Murakami provided his Japanese translation of passages from reggae singer Eddy Grant’s “Living on the Front Line”, explaining that the front line was also about “a society on the brink of destruction”.

Grant especially wanted the African tribes to stop killing each other, but “his heartfelt words really could apply to any war”.

He chose “Blowin’ In The Wind” which Stevie Wonder sang for Bob Dylan’s 30th birthday concert celebration in 1992, and summarized what Wonder, before performing, told the audience, that despite the movement civil rights and the war in Vietnam, the troubles of the world are a paradise. ‘t finished and the song remained relevant.

After performing John Lennon’s “Imagine” performed by Jack Johnson, Murakami said the lyrics sounded “pretty optimistic” because they were written in 1971, when “we could still believe in the future, when we still had our ideals.

In conclusion, Murakami quoted Martin Luther King Jr. saying in his speech that “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

Murakami said King likely meant that individual rights could be the first to be taken away when the law says so.

He never explicitly mentioned Russia or President Vladimir Putin.

But he noted that many people, frustrated with representative democracy, are moving closer to authoritarianism.

“It may seem effective, but it’s important to remember that if things go in a dark direction, where we end up is really dangerous, so be careful.”

“I hope there will be some peace in our world.”

Lola R. McClure