Pioneering disabled-led theatre company Graeae has been proud standard-bearers for protest and disability rights for many years. In conjunction with the final tour of their smash hit musical Reasons to be Cheerful, set in 1979 Thatcher’s Britain, Blockheads Chaz Jankel, Derek Hussey and cast member John Kelly have written a protest song for 2017, ‘If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong’.
From Kate Tempest’s incendiary government-bashing performance at Glastonbury through to the #Grime4Corbyn movement and the re-energising of the anti-Maybot politicised protest at the Cambridge Folk Festival, the summer of 2017 has seen music reclaim its status as a vehicle for protest and advocacy once again.
The song is a rallying cry against the current government cuts; specifically the austerity and cuts directed at the d/Deaf and disabled community in the UK and the systematic disintegration of the NHS and the Welfare State. The lyrics of ‘If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong’ reflect back to the era Reasons to be Cheerful is set, when Ian Dury and The Blockheads were dominating the charts. Full lyrics can be seen here.
Chaz Jankel said: “This is one of the most timely and relevant songs I’ve ever been involved in. The funding cuts are atrocious. The lyrics Derek Hussey has written-with additional input from John Kelly frame the current crisis perfectly. It goes beyond being a pleasure to be part of this project, it’s VITAL!”
Derek Hussey said: “These issues should be at the top of the agenda in any fair minded democratic society. Allowing individuals to achieve and maintain independence, an element of self-esteem and dignity without suffering the ignominy of having to resort to a humiliating begging bowl mentality. ‘If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong’ highlights some of those points and, I hope, reminds us all that with the right kind of assistance anything is possible.”
Graeae’s John Kelly said: “‘If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong’ is the fight back towards a society that respects equality, difference, human rights and that celebrates that we actually want to support each other through life. I hope that people come along to the show and join in the fun, anarchy and energy of it all, so we can have a right old sing-along every night during the tour.”
‘If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong’ will be available as a free download to everyone who buys a ticket for the Reasons to be Cheerful tour and will be performed exclusively at each show on the tour by the cast and band.
It has also been announced today that Tony Heaton OBE has been commissioned to create artwork for the new song ‘If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong’. A long-term Ian Dury and the Blockhead’s fan and close friend of Graeae, Tony will take inspiration from his landmark sculpture ‘Great Britain from a Wheelchair’. Working in his much-celebrated signature style he will work to reflect the song’s defiant protest message.
Nearly 40 years on The Blockheads’ chart dominating era in the late 1970’s, the UK is again undergoing massive change with shifts in global power and a new generation rising up, musicis once again becoming a way of channelling emotion, maintaining solidarity and demanding change.
As part of Graeae’s Reasons to be Cheerful extensive community engagement programme, protest songs are now being written across the country. Graeae is inviting all members of the community (regardless of their previous song writing experience) to create original songs with an accompanying video in any format accessible to them. These are available to view and listen to here. To assist members of the public with their song writing, an exclusive guide has been written by lead vocalist and songwriter John Kelly which can be downloaded here. A selection of the songs will be given their first airings to the public at each of the venues on the Reasons to be Cheerful tour.
Tickets are now on sale for Reasons to be Cheerful, which runs at the New Wolsey Theatre between Tuesday 3 to Saturday 7 October and can be booked through the Ticket Sales Team by calling 01473 295900 or by booking online here