Just like it's hard to pick a favorite song, it's hard to pick a favorite music video. Growing up in the 80's, music videos became an integral part of being a teenager. I remember being excited about late night babysitting jobs because I might get to watch MTV after I put the kids to bed. I didn't have cable at home, so the only way I could watch music videos was at someone else's house. As much as I like the music video art form, my favorite video is not one that was produced for that purpose, it is a video of a live performance. I think this is the only music video that I have ever recommended to other people to watch. I've seen it tons of times and sometimes I even cry because I find it so moving. It's a video of a live performance of the Wynton Marsalis Septet performing at the Amnesty International concert in Santiago Chile on October 13, 1990.
The fact that this concert even happened is historically important. The dictatorship of General Pinochet finally ended in March of 1990. The coup of 1973 and the almost 20 year dictatorship that would follow is a tragic piece of history. In Santiago Chile there is a museum called "The Museum of Memory and Human Rights" that contains documents and other pieces of evidence to memorialize what really happened during that time. When I went to that museum and saw the evidence of the involvement of the US government in overthrowing a democratically elected President, Allende, I was horrified and also embarrassed that I knew so little about what had happened in Chile.
The resilience of the Chilean people is a beautiful thing to behold. I visited Chile a few times and was blown away by all the beauty in that land. Beyond the natural beauty, there is a vibrancy in the culture that is infectious. There were several nights I was there that a football (soccer) match was played, and the celebratory cheering, chants and songs after every goal were so loud that it felt like the city itself was shaking. I loved it.
In this video the Wynton Marsalis Septet plays a blues song which happens to have a melody that sounds a lot like a tune sung at Chilean football matches. In an incredible display of the universality of music, the crowd begins to sing along, with words, to an instrumental song that has no words. The look on the faces of the musicians is priceless as they realize what is happening. A crowd of 80,000 spontaneously sings in unison, keeps the beat, and sings a tune that harmonizes with the instruments. The fact that this musical connection came at such an unsettled, exhilarating and historic time just makes this video that more powerful to watch.
* Photo taken by me in Santiago Chile. Mural by INTI