Monday, January 25, 2021

Musical Monday - Pipes of Peace by Paul McCartney

#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: January 14, 1984 through January 21, 1984.

Last week's Musical Monday was a kind of masterclass in nonsensical imagery supporting a virtually meaningless song. This week, on the other hand, is an example of a song and video using beating the audience about the head and shoulders with its point. Pipes of Peace is an anti-war song (or at least a pro-peace song) and the video uses the 1914 Christmas truce to drive its point home. The one really brilliant bit is having McCartney play both an English and German soldiers who have parallel experiences in the story, emphasizing the commonality of the two opposing sides. The message is direct, unsubtle, and effective.

One cultural note here that distinguishes the United States from the United Kingdom is World War I, which looms incredibly large in the memories of, and consequently the art of, the United Kingdom, and is more or less a footnote in the United States - it is often seen as little more than a prelude to World War II. This makes some sense: The United Kingdom was involved in the First World War for far longer than the United States was, and the United Kingdom was at the very least a coequal partner with France in that conflict. On the other hand, the United States was far more involved in World War II, in some ways pushing the United Kingdom into second banana status in the conflict, and from the United Kingdom's perspective the Second World War more or less set into motion the dissolution of their world-spanning empire. Plus, there is a cogent argument that can be made that World War I really was just a prelude to World War II, as evidenced by (among other things) Ferdinand Foch's 1919 quote concerning the Versailles Treaty: "This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years."

Despite the hopes expressed in the song and video, it is sobering to remember that the Christmas Truce of 1914 wasn't peace. It was an armistice for, at most, a few days.

Previous Musical Monday: Union of the Snake by Duran Duran
Subsequent Musical Monday: Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Only You by the Flying Pickets
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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