I was very excited when a friend of mine connected me with The Polyphonic Spree, who were seeking video-makers to help create an advent calendar of music off of their Holidaydream release, and even more excited when they presented me with the possibility of making a video for the iconic Lennon/Ono song, “Happy Xmas/War is Over.” I’ve always loved the unapologetically idealistic peace-work of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and I happened to be in the middle of reading “What is the What” by Dave Eggers– a story written with and for Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. It seemed providential that I should be ingesting this eyewitness account of the ravages of war, the content of which was stirring up my senses of justice, empathy and aching frustration at the way things are between humans. And so I said an enthusiastic yes!
And then the work faced me. How could I, an American woman with no actual experience of war, touch this idea? How could I avoid it being too dramatic, too didactic, too cute, too easy, too hard, too sloppy, too slick, too obtuse, too cliche, too boring, too frenetic, too political, too religious, too white, too pretty, too morbid, too lite, too heavy? Well, I’m sure I slipped down some of those slopes, but armed with all of these internal warnings, I proceeded, and am overall happy with what came out. I’m happy to be a part of releasing something that I care so deeply about, and at a time of year when I need reminders about mercy and peace and strength in numbers. The video was premiered on NPR’s All Songs Considered blog, which was a great honor. You can see it and read what they had to say here.