Welcome to another Gorilla Radio Year-Ender show, wherein we generally try to take the tenure of the times through some of the stories covered here over the last 12 months, and attempt to weave from them a tapestry giving fair representation of the Canadian zeitgeist, and that of the broader World in 2015.
The hope is, a thorough conning of the year past can provide hints as to where we can expect the tide of events to take us in the next, New Year. This year however, I’ve decided on a different course; instead of merely a going over of the events of 2015, I’ll play selections from my long-favoured accompanying music, Grant Wakefield’s ‘The Fire This Time.’
The instrumental side of Wakefield’s masterful work has featured as background music for X-Mas specials, and those other occasions where there are no guests, but I’ve rarely played the documentary side of the disc.
It’s a terrible account of the Forever War’s commencement, and the sowing of the dragon’s teeth determining the news events we’ve seen reported, sans context, since. Fittingly, this year I go back, way back, to provide that deeper background, beginning at the beginning of this bloody new era…
I remember like it was yesterday… I was standing at the desk of a Mexican post office in Merida, on the Yucatan Peninsula. It was January 17th, 1991. There was a television mounted on the wall, the volume turned to distortion level, (as everything seems to be down south of south of the border). CNN blared, and red rockets flared as America and her allies dared kick off Desert Storm, (what would become the Mother of All Wars, the one that’s giving even now, nearly 25 years later).
The post office clerk followed my gaze to the teevee on the wall and said, “Es bueno, no?” And I said, “No, muey malo.” Grant Wakefield said much more; his ‘The Fire This Time,’ audio-documentary is a unique and necessary chronicling of the 1990-91 Gulf War. The CD’s liner notes inform,
“In April 1999 Grant Wakefield and Miriam Ryle travelled to Iraq intending to update Ryle’s 1994 documentary “Voices From Iraq.” They shot footage of the life in and around Baghdad, and filmed several interviews (including one with the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Hans Von Sponeck). On their return they offered the unedited footage to BBC and Channel 4. It was refused. Upon this, Grant Wakefield searched for another way to share the collected material with the public and decided to make an audio CD. The documentary tells the story of Iraq, and its appointed role in the geopolitics of the West, from the colonial times at the beginning of the 20th century, till the period of the embargo at the end of the nineties… The story is narrated by Grant Wakefield, and complimented by a collage of samples from the collected footage, interviews, newsbroadcasts, and official (government and military) statements. The music was provided by various electronical artists, and Grant Wakefield mixed his narrative over it. The second CD is the instrumental version of the songs used for the first disc.”
That first disc is the one I rely so heavily upon for special programs like today’s. But, it’s the second disc I believe so crucial to gaining an understanding of the world we live in today; an understanding impossible to reach outside the context of the first Gulf War, and the true motives behind it.
So, here then is Grant Wakefield’s The Fire This Time, where be the seeds of perpetual war are planted.