Music can turn a political issue into a massive cultural movement.
This is what I heard the female rock legend, I believe it was Joan Baez, saying during a radio interview last year.
I listened as I drove around LA in the process of videotaping my daily, Facebook live, vegan cooking show called #LunchBreakLIVE.
It brought me back to my own experience as a teenager during the Vietnam War. I distinctly remember the feeling I got from the song Ohio, by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
I hadn’t studied the actual event, namely the 1970 massacre by Ohio National Guardsmen of unarmed students at Kent State University, students who were protesting the US bombing of Cambodia.
But, as a 15-year-old who wanted to be with it, whatever it was, the song got to me, made me aware of some broad injustice that I had only - up until that point - vaguely considered. “Four dead in Ohio.” I still remember that lyric.
I suddenly felt inspired to create a potent music video combining footage of the suffering of farm animals with a song that, ideally, wakes people up, the same way I was woken up - as a teenager - to the horrors of the Vietnam war and the persecution of those who protested against it. That was how Be Kind Already was born.
After tinkering with some phrases and melodies, I realized I needed to collaborate. I reached out to Jason Oliver, a talented animal activist I had observed playing guitar and singing original songs at protests in Berkeley, California. We worked together on the lyrics and music!
He then brought in a very talented singer and vegan activist named Michelle Swann. Together, they recorded a spectacular duet.
While I attended the Animal Liberation Conference in Berkeley in May, I videotaped Jason, Michelle and a small team of backup singers who were there for visual effect… and moral support.
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It was fortunate that I was also able to videotape some spectacularly eye catching animal rights demonstrations on that trip. One march, led by Direct Action Everywhere, wound through the streets of San Francisco, with more than a thousand people, most holding or wearing vegan messaging.
It was visually mesmerizing. A massive Cube of Truth was another visually mind-blowing event, as hundreds of animal activists donned Guy Fawkes masks and held laptops showing the abuse and slaughter of factory farm animals.
Finally, back in Los Angeles, I attended the Los Angeles Animal Save vigil where more than a hundred people, as part of the Save Movement, comforted pigs headed to slaughter. Vegan activist/editor Hope Casella-Holtum did an amazing job combining all the elements.
Wake up - and listen
I wanted to emphasize the importance of this new wave of activism, where people take to the streets and speak truth to power… and anyone who will listen.
Hopefully, this music video, and others like it, will wake people up to the sadism and injustice of animal agriculture, the way music woke me up, as a teenager, to the horrors of war. I owe a huge thank you to everyone who gave of their time and talent.
More music to come!