Monday, June 26, 2017
  • Thursday, Mar. 16, 2017
A scene from Nike's "What Will They Say About You?"
Earwitness
Which Land Is Your Land?

As the world knows, I’m a liberal.  Social and fiscal.  So, for like-minded citizens these are not easy times.  You’ve seen me talking to myself on the street, in the subway.  Don’t be concerned—I’ll be fine.  Just wanted to establish the context. From the immigration ban to defunding Planned Parenthood & public schools (House Bill 610), abolishing Affordable Care to crippling the EPA…feels like the struggle for Middle Earth will be a long one.  To me.  You?  Your call.

In times of old, there were songs and artists who gave voice to the dissenters. “Blowin’ In The Wind,”  “This Land Is Your Land,”  “What’s Going On?,”  “Give Peace A Chance.”  And dozens more.  But, as discussed in previous columns, we’re not all listening to the same music these days. We’ve got our playlists, we’re streaming our “stations,” fixed on our devices.  In the room between our ears.

On some level social media has played an important role in mobilizing multitudes worldwide:  millions protesting on inauguration day, millions more around the world on Women’s Day, tens of thousands at airports protesting the Muslim ban, on short notice.  Nice work FB, Twitter...

We do have The Boss to count on in certain uncertain times.  A few weeks ago, performing in Adelaide, Australia, Bruce proclaimed from the stage: “Tonight we want to add our voices to the thousands of Americans protesting in airports around our country.  The Muslim ban, the detention of foreign nationals and refugees—we find this antidemocratic and fundamentally un-American.”  He and the E Street Band then launched into “American Land.”

My wife is a teacher who’s taught and championed dual-language studies at the elementary school level for over 20 years—so it was particularly satisfying to learn that Chance the Rapper is donating a million dollars to Chicago Public Schools to help offset the lack of funding (click here for more details).  That’s a lesson in citizenship.

I’m also impressed to see a number of brands jump into the social/political conversation with eloquent, powerful statements.  Not everybody agrees.  But how could everybody agree?  The spot “This Land”  for Johnny Walker’s “Keep Walking” campaign went deep inside me.

Another emotional “statement” (unintended, according to the brand) is Budweiser’s Super Bowl spot, “Born The Hard Way,” music by David Wing (who created the score for "Loving").  

On a somewhat more “strictly business” side of this issue, over 100 tech companies, including Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Kickstarter, Twitter and Tesla recently filed an amicus brief in opposition to the President’s immigration ban on the grounds that it is discriminatory and has a negative impact on business--click here for more details. (The brief has no soundtrack—could I suggest “Let ‘em In” by McCartney & Wings?  Otherwise, feel free to order off the menu.)

Nike, with its long history of socially pointed advertising, walked barefoot onto the stage in Russia with its arresting “What Are Girls Made Of?” commercial out of W+K Amsterdam, music by Massive. 

I’m somewhat reminded of the Always “Like A Girl” campaign, which has been, from all anecdotal signs, an enormous success for the brand. (In fact, I think the boys are gonna have to start getting their shit together soon!)

Even more remarkable from Nike is their commercial “What Will They Say About You?” targeting Muslim women in the Middle East.

I’ve never been to the Middle East, so all of what I think I know about how Muslim women are regarded and treated is what I’ve read or been told.  And now comes news that the brand has been developing the Nike Pro Hijab, for female Muslim athletes, as reported here. My first reaction was, Holy shit, that takes balls.  And then I thought, ‘What the hell’s wrong with me—what’s male genitalia got to do with it?  Nothing.  Takes intelligence, passion…and a bit of courage.  Well done, Nike.

Blue States, Red States.  Hate it.  If we take down the ‘wall’ between us we won’t need to ask, Which land is your land? Or is it just my magical thinking, runnin’ away with me?

About the author

Lyle Greenfield is the founder of BANG Music and past president of the Association of Music Producers (AMP).  Greenfield has been a driving force behind the AMP Awards for Music and Sound, which debuted in New York City in 2013.

Contact Lyle via email