A Time for Sympathy
This is a time when many of us are at a loss for words. Others have ready-made words that would be better left unsaid. It is a time of unprecedented divides, of fears unharnessed. At such times, more than words we need music.
Music will touch you in some way. You cannot refute it. If you try, you will snuff out the last spark of life in yourself. The music will supercede your politics. The music will emancipate you from your economics. It will free up within you, if only for a fleeting moment, the truth that you are not separate from others as you think you are.
Followers and friends of Paris-Sharing, at the end of a deeply disturbing year, we have chosen to engage you musically instead of rationally. Paris has been abandoned because of the fear of terrorism, but we’re not going to try to talk you out of your fears anymore.
I first heard singer/songwriter Jilann O’Neill sing “Sympathy” at the Club Rayé in Paris’ hip Montorgueil quarter. We were coming up on the one-year anniversary of the Paris terrorist attacks, and the American election process was becoming uglier day by day. I said to Jilann: “Would you please sing a song for Paris? Will you please sing a song to cut through all the fear?”
I sensed that she had the right kind of style to appeal to the Paris-Sharing audience. Something classy, something nostalgic, something heartfelt...and a je ne sais quoi Parisian feel about her. Jilann is Californian, Irish, and now her heart --broken and renewed-- is in Paris. You can feel it.
Jilann writes songs, but given the timing, we decided to make a music video for 'Sympathy,' because its lyrics rang so true, and with such perfect timing :
“What we need is sympathy my friends, because there’s not enough love to go around.”
In any artistic endeavor, you never know where the creative process will take you. In sponsoring this video, there was no precise message, and certainly no sales pitch. The combined talents of Jilann and Calvin Walker, the director, led to something beautiful and unique. Interpret it as you wish.
The video plays on the cliché that many would like to preserve about Paris being the city of romance.
And yes it is!
But in this storyline, we never really know if the man and the woman actually encounter each other. There is some invisible divide, with only clues to one about the existence of the other. It is this great divide, this chasm, that is so characteristic of our current times. This divide stems from a deep-rooted belief that there is not enough love, or other things, to go around. This divide can be healed, and a starting point is awareness. We have created this divide, and everyone of us through our fearful and anxious minds have played a small part in it.
There won’t be universal love flowing all of a sudden, so what we need is a small step, the first step, the step that is closest in.
Just one foot forward, towards Sympathy.