Jesus Jones – Right Here, Right Now
Today mark 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. I was trying to come up with a song that was current then but this one, although it came out a little more than a year later, is what always pops into my mind when I think about that time. The scenes in the background of the Wall being toppled, then the footage with Gorbachev, and the complete unraveling of the eastern bloc countries—plus the singer just living in front of his tv while it all happened. That was me too, just completely glued to the tv.
Five years ago when it was the 25th anniversary, I wrote a post about my family connections in East Germany and how that made it all that much more gripping for me. A few weeks ago, my daughter told me she had an upcoming assignment for one of her classes where you had to record someone’s memories of a historic event, then compare that with what actually happened. The example the professor gave was the Kennedy assassination, she said everyone remembers seeing some specific thing on tv at that time but that footage wasn’t shown until later. Of course I wasn’t alive yet for Kennedy’s assassination, and I was much too young to have watched the moon landing, so I suggested the fall of the Berlin Wall. Last weekend was when she needed me to record my memory. My recollection is basically just like this song. Especially the lines about “watching the world wake up from history” and “it seemed the world could change at the blink of an eye.” Everything happened so quickly and something that seemed impossible just a year earlier, was suddenly reality.
While I feel like I remember the events of 30 years ago really well, I have to say I was hazy about the details of this video. I did not remember about the keyboard player with his completely typical early 90s dance moves or the oversize shirts and caps. For Christmas last year I got a book called Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I started it but then it got buried under some other books and I didn’t get back to it. All of this has made me eager to pick it up again.
In lead up to today, there have been a few news stories that I heard on NPR during my commute about what eastern Germany is like now. More of them troubling than encouraging. It breaks my heart to hear that Dresden has declared a Nazi emergency and Macron said the other day that “we are experiencing the brain death of NATO.” I understand that the promise of the West and a free and open Europe didn’t live up to the ideals that many people had. But reading Burning Down the Haus (plus one of those other books had been a library book about the tunnels under the Wall), you can easily see that what came before it was so much worse. I would like the world to wake up again. Look at history and realize what’s happening before it’s too late. I want that same sense of right here, right now, to catch on.
[For more recollections about music and the Wall, I encourage you to read this post, by my friend Nancy, from five years ago.]