13. The Power of Music
Chapter 10d of The Mind of God, beginning on page 141, is titled Music. It is a sub-chapter of chapter 10, The Writing on the Wall.
Music is a theme repeated throughout the book, being presented as a powerful communication medium that engages both the emotions and the intellect. This is accomplished by combining meaningful lyrics with rhythm and melody. Obviously, the effect can be either positive or negative. It is postulated that music could be utilized by divine intelligence to bring about certain positive purposes. This was dramatically illustrated by events that occurred in the former Soviet Republic.
Few people in the 1960s would have guessed the sweeping changes that would occur in Russia by the year 2000. Fewer still would have believed that music would play a major role in those changes. It all came out when Paul McCartney visited Russia for the first time in May 2003. He was received like a conquering hero, being awarded an Honorary Doctorate in music, among other honors. Even Paul did not realize just how much the Beatles music was prized in Russia.
In the 60s and 70s the Beatles were nearly deified in Russia. Young people would spend half their monthly wage to purchase contraband albums that were then treated like religious objects. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin explained that Beatles music "…was like an open window to the world." Author/Sociologist Artemy Troitsky said, "The Beatles, Paul and John, George and Ringo, have done more for the fall of communism than any other Western institution."
When one views the situation in retrospect, there are some interesting synchronicities between the Beatles and the Russians. As mentioned on page 80 of The Mind of God, the scarab beetle was revered by the Egyptians as a symbol of rebirth or new awakening. The Beatles became such a symbol for the Russians. Vladimir Lenin was a symbol of tyranny and oppression to many. His tomb rests on Red Square where Paul McCartney's concert was held. In contrast, John Lennon of the Beatles symbolized world freedom and love. The Beatles performed a tune called "Yellow Submarine." This is a very light hearted, happy tune about living aboard a submarine. Part of that happiness is symbolized in the color of the sub. In Western cultures, the color Yellow symbolizes joy, hope, optimism and happiness. In Asia, it is considered sacred. Interestingly, many experts feel that the economic collapse of the former Soviet Union was caused in part by the huge expense of their nuclear submarine program. In contrast to the happy yellow sub of the Beatles, the nuclear subs were sinister black or dark gray weapons of mass destruction.
The lyrics of many of the Beatles tunes, when viewed in retrospect, can be seen to have influenced the Russians during a difficult time: "When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be… When all the broken-hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be." "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, now I need a place to hide away, oh I believe in yesterday." "We can work it out…Time is very short and there's no time for fussing and fighting my friend. I have always thought that it's a crime, so I will tell you once again. Try to see it my way, time will tell if I am right or I am wrong." "You say you want a revolution…" "Maybe I'm amazed at the way you love me all the time. Maybe I'm afraid of the way I love you."
During McCartney's concert. many in the audience were moved to tears. One Russian critic commented, "The only person in Red Square who wasn't moved was Lenin." McCartney himself was moved to tears when he visited an orphanage of children who were singing the tunes he wrote.
Moscow playwright Seregei Volynets said of McCartney's visit, "It was something fantastic, like a fairy tale- seeing the president of Russia walking with Paul McCartney as one of the Beatles, and the president saying that the Beatles words were a "breath of fresh air." That was a very symbolic moment."
Perhaps the most significant synchronicity between the Beatle's and Russia, was the tune "Back in the USSR," written as a spoof during the height of the Cold War. When Paul McCartney sang the song in Red Square in 2003, he said it was like a jolt of electricity went through the audience. Putin himself was beaming in the center of the crowd.
Mikhail Gorbachev gave an award to Paul McCartney, stating, "I do believe the music of the Beatles has taught young people of the Soviet Union that there is another life. That there is freedom elsewhere. And of coarse, this feeling has pushed them toward Perestroika, towards the dialogue with the outside world. I congratulate you on something that should have happened a long time ago. But it's better late than never. I don't think this is just pop music. This is something much greater."
Few people could have imagined the influence Beatles music would have on Russia. McCartney was the first to admit that "we did it without knowing it." The relevant consideration here is that someone knew.
On Feb. 26, 2008, the New York Philharmonic orchestra played In North Korea. It was the first time a cultural organization from the United States had appeared there, and the largest group of U.S. citizens visiting since the Korean war. At the outset, the Korean and American national anthems were played with all standing and the flags of both displayed. Lorin Maazel, the music director, described how the orchestra played as normal, and began feeling tremendous warmth coming back from the audience. After the performance, the audience, many with tears in their eyes, stood and applauded for a full five minutes. The orchestra members, some of them crying as well, waved. The audience cheered and waved back. One bass player commented: “Was that an emotional experience!... an incredible joy and sadness and connection like I’ve never seen.” The concert was broadcast live and seen by as many as 200 million people. Once again, a demonstration of the powerful influence music can have over large numbers of people. Time will tell if there will be long term effects. Maazel noted: “ If it does come to be seen in retrospect as a historic moment, we will all be very proud.”1 1 Daniel J. Wakin, An Emotional Connection in N. Korea; Audience teary after performance by N.Y. orchestra, New York Times, as reported in San Jose Mercury News, Wed. Feb. 27, 2008
(All quotes taken from the A&E special of the concert aired on public television, also from Newsweek, Sept. 22, 2003, p. 37)