Music Bridges
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Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac): “It’s a musical and totally non-political coming together of artists from different cultures that transcends any monkey business and personal agendas. Everyone has just been getting on with making music.”

Woody Harrelson: “All of us felt like we were part of something special. I left Cuba full of hope — not just about US-Cuban relations, but about the ability of people to move beyond politics and nationalism, to forge a relationship that is uniquely ‘of the people’.”

Cyndi Lauper: “I went to Russia to run away from everything. There I was just Cyndi, not Cyndi Lauper.”

Rodney Crowell: “When I’m at my best as a writer, commercialism doesn’t matter to me. There are times when I’m a slave to that, but being here it’s not about that, and that’s what makes me happiest. To be creating for no other reason than…it’s breathing. One of the other highlights of my week was doing an Irish jig with a woman on Inish Turk. I’m in love with the Irish culture.”

Jimmy Buffett: “I’m no stranger to Cuban music, but this was one of the best events I’ve ever been involved in. We all had a ball and made a lot of new friends. I congratulate the organizers on both sides for making it possible, and I hope we can get to hear all the wonderful songs again sooner rather than later.”

Bonnie Raitt: “Everybody knows that the embargo just hurts the Cuban people. So I went to my guitar company and bought a bunch of guitars at cost, and I’m going to give lots away to the music school here, and the rest to people I know here.”

Klaus Meine (The Scorpions): “This is like a camp. Every day it gets easier to know the people you are with and to understand what they want to create.” Indonesian, Chinese, American, German, it doesn’t matter.

Burt Bacharach: “I first came to Cuba when I was three with my mom and dad. I came back now because I heard such great stories about the music they’re making here and it’s true.”

Stewart Copeland (The Police): “This is the first time in my life I’ve ever been intimidated by a hotel bar band.”

Wendy Waldman: There is something about writing a song with someone that forces you to cut through all the barriers and deal with what you have in common. Working with our Soviet partners, overcoming differences in language, lifestyle and culture…showed me that fundamentally, as people, we are the same. We dream, we worry, we strive to overcome and to make good lives for ourselves and our families.”

Don Was:” I’ve been going to hear Cuban music for years, and I thought I wouldn’t last a minute with those guys.”

Cathy Dennis: What got me more than anything else — once we got past the ‘what does he think I’m thinking part?’ — was how much we all wanted to learn from each other. It may be lyrically American, but it is spiritually Indonesian.”

Peter Buck (R.E.M.): “As much as I admire the punk ethos in American — anybody can strap on a guitar — that wouldn’t go in Havana. To work here you gotta be the best.”

Liam O’ Maonlai (Hot House Flowers): I feel like I’ve cleared the channels this week to allow my soul to pour out. And I’ve had help from great people who have given me permission to do that. Every day has gotten better, and there’s no comparison between each.”

Billy Steinberg: I looked at it as a wonderful opportunity to see the Soviet Union and left open everything else in terms of who we would meet and the songs we would write. It turned out to be the single most memorable time of my life.”

Dave Koz: “The one thing that really impressed me the most is how pure music is in Cuba. For us, even on our best days, music is attached to some kind of commerce—a tour, getting ahead, and it was nothing like that there. It’s coming purely from deep down inside of them, and it has to get out. It’s nice to be reminded that this same spirit is inside me.”

Desmond Child: In the Soviet Union, it’s very important that people create their music and express themselves, whereas here sometimes, it’s not so important. And a lot of music becomes jaded and superficial. But in the Soviet Union now, at least in a lot of the artists and people we encountered, there a real fire there. They’ve tasted freedom. And they’re not going to let the door slam back in their faces.”

Lisa Loeb: “It has surprised me that we’ve been able to create and write real songs so quickly together. I wrote one titled “That Smile” with Burt Bacharach, Mark Hudson and Cubans Miriam Ramos and Noel Nicole. It’s an opportunity that would probably have never happened anywhere else. I can safely say that this was the most intense and amazing week I have had since I was a child.

Paddy Maloney (The Chieftains):  “What I’ve been so pleased about with all the big names present is that everyone left their egos at home, and are just having a ball writing new songs. It was hard to get down to work — we just wanted to sit and listen to each other. We’ve come up with one that is a mixture of Cuban, American, and Irish influences. I can’t get over enough how great an experience it’s been.”

Speech (Arrested Development): I also had a chance to hook up with Irish writers like Frank McNamara, Kieran Goss, and Liam O’Maonlai who is one hell of a player. Despite coming from completely different musical backgrounds, there was an instant rapport between us which has made me realize I ought to broaden my scope a little.”

Chuco Valdes: “My concept of improvisation changed after jamming with Gary Bartz. I heard new things.”

Ruth Merry: “Meeting Fidel Castro in an official reception after the show was the icing on the cake. Even the most famous names in the group couldn’t believe that he would take the trouble to shake hands and speak to us until 3 o’clock in the morning.”

Pam Rose: “I wanted to connect with the spirit and the heart of Ireland. And I feel like I’ve opened a door and am doing it.”

Montell Jordan: “I wrote a song “Unlonely” with a Cuban group called Sintesis, that to
me is such an incredible song. I wish the rest of the world could hear it.”

Barry Mann: I think all involved felt it was an honor to be part of what was an historic event, and hope that by this trip we made some dent in the relationships between East and West. People are people all over the world and sometimes it’s a shame that political systems interfere with all that’s good in human beings.”

N’Dea Davenport: “I wish so many young entertainers in our industry could get a chance to check Cuba out, and not take things for granted, and not be as wasteful as we are.”

Lee Roy Parnell: “Hell, I wanted to adopt the whole country (Cuba).”

Beth Nielsen Chapman: “ I wrote with Carlos Varela and Santiago Feliu and it was very awkward because we didn’t speak the same language. So instead of writing immediately, we sang each other’s songs and drank a bottle of rum, which helped the communication a lot.”

Duncan Sheik: “ There were many Cuban artists who are involved in some respect with Santeria. There was some music that happened down there that put me in a different state then I’d hereto experienced. The result for me was almost like being in a trancelike state for a particular show.”

Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls): “One highlight was the sheer musicianship of the Cuban artists. They don’t have a lot of the extra trappings we do. There’s no doubt that any time you have something that’s not driven by money, that’s driven just by the joy of the art itself, it’s a joy to be around. We’d sit up late into the night and jam. Everyone just wanted to play. It was awesome, like summer camp for adults.”

Joan Osborne: ” Maybe we romanticize their lives because it’s not all about materialism and maybe they romanticize our lives of plenty. I’m just here to have a great creative experience.”

Brenda Russell: “The communication thing is hilarious…but it always works in the end. Music transcends everything. When I think of not sitting with these guys (Cubans) because of political reasons I just get really angry.”

Luis de la Cruz: “It’s one thing to hear a bit of music on the radio, but to actually sit down with somebody we admire and ask questions and collaborate on something intimate like the writing process is really incredible”

Rudolf Schenker (The Scorpions): “We’ve always said that our philosophy is ‘no border, one language.’ Now we got a chance to prove it”

Jeff Lorber: Americans are used to collaborating. Asians aren’t. This situation is so fresh that it allows emotional personalities of both sides to come out.”

Victoria Shaw: We were all nervous about this, but the excitement has been truly augmented by adding two, three, and even four cultures into the mix. Asian contributions gave it a fullness I’ve never experienced before.”

Franne Golde: Not only was this a magnificent experience as far as being able to write and get to know the Soviet songwriters who are very talented, gracious, and warm individuals, but this has also been one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I was certainly proud to be one of the American songwriters asked to participate in this historic event.”

Garret Wall: The whole week has been a long, special moment.”