Music: Charlie Haden — 1937-2014

Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny — The Moon Song. Charlie Haden died on Friday.

In an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, Charlie Haden recounted a European tour he did in 1971:

I saw on the itinerary before we left that we were playing in Portugal, and I didn’t agree with the government there. It was a kind of a fascist government. They had colonies in Guinea-Bissau, in Angola and Mozambique, and they were systematically wiping out the Black race, you know? And so I called Ornette [Coleman], and I said, “You know, I don’t want to play in Portugal.” And he said, “Charlie, we’ve already signed the contract. We’ve gotta play. It’s the last country on the concert tour. Figure out — maybe you can do something to protest it, you know?”

AMY GOODMAN: The Caetano regime.

CHARLIE HADEN: Yeah. And so, during the tour we were playing one of my songs, “Song for Che,” and I decided that when we played my song, because it was connected to me, because I was the guy that was going to do it, you know, I would dedicate that song to the Black peoples’ liberation movements in Mozambique and Angola and Guinea-Bissau. And I asked — I think we were in Bulgaria, and we were doing a jazz festival there. Or Romania, we were in Bucharest, and I asked one of the journalists there, who was from Portugal, I said, “I’m planning on” — because he knew about the Liberation Music Orchestra. He says, “What are you going to do?” And I said, “I’m going to dedicate — what would happen if I did this?”

He said, “Well, three or four different things. You can either be shot on the spot, or they could pull you off the stage, or they could arrest you on the stage. They could arrest you in your dressing room. Or they can arrest you later. But you’re going to be arrested.” And I thought, you know, I don’t think they’ll arrest me, man. I’m an American jazz musician. This is a jazz festival. It has nothing to do with politics. I think I’m safe.

So I made the dedication, and I wasn’t arrested immediately, but, you know, when I did the dedication there were young people there, students, that were in the cheaper seats in front, and they all started cheering so loud that you couldn’t hear the music. And a lot of police were running around with automatic weapons, and they, right after we finished our set, they stopped down the festival, and they closed down in Cascais this big stadium that we were playing in. And we went back to the hotel, and so I was starting to get concerned about what was going to happen.

The next day, we went to the airport, and at the airport, I was trying to get my bass on the plane to make sure I could get the bass on the plane. And there were hundreds and hundreds of people in front of the airlines’ counters. And finally, one of the people from TWA came around the counter and said, “There was a man over there who wanted to interview you, and you have to stay here.” And I said, “I don’t want to be interviewed.” And Ornette came over and said, “What’s going on?” And they say, “They want to interview Mr. Haden, and you guys are going to get on the plane. And he’s staying here.” And Ornette said, “No, we’re not going on the plane. We’re going to stay here with him.” And they said, “No, you’re not. You’re getting on the plane.” They took them by the arms, and they led them on the aircraft. And I stayed there, and they took me down a winding staircase to an interrogation room and started pumping me with questions. They said, “We’re going to transfer you over to the PIDE headquarters.”

AMY GOODMAN: The police?

CHARLIE HADEN: It was the political police of Portugal. And so I said, you know, “I’m a United States citizen with a United States passport. I demand to be able to call the embassy.” And the guy who worked for TWA looked at me and smiled and said, “It’s Sunday, Mr. Haden. You can’t call the embassy. You shouldn’t mix politics with music.” [Continue reading…]

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