Activism / arts / Drama / History / my songs / Politics / songs

‘An honorary woman’

My Youtube video for International Women’s Day yesterday opened with Teddy Munro singing my song, Get Outta My Head, back in 1971. No particular application to International Women’s Day, apart from the fact that most of the musicians backing Teddy were women – unusual in those days. Still is, as a matter of fact.

In case you were wondering why I – a man – was introducing an International Women’s Day programme, I explained with a little story about when I was in Iraq as a Human Shield, in 2002. They were pretty fraught times, not because of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, but because we Shields were always squabbling among ourselves.

I decided to fast in silence for 24 hours, emerging every hour on the hour to sing my Peace Begins With Me song.

A deputation of women turned up to ask me to sing at a women-only International Women’s Day rally the next day.

It may have escaped your notice, I replied, but I’m not a woman.

That’s OK, Karl, they said. To us you’re an honourable woman. The nicest thing anyone’s ever said about me, I think.

So I agreed, and immediately rewrote Woody Guthrie’s Union Maid, to fit the circumstances:

There once was a human shield
In struggle she was steeled
She was always wise to Bush’s lies
She’d always organise the guys.
If enemies attack
In Palestine or Iraq
In peace she’s stood with her sisterhood
And keeps on coming back

O you can’t scare me cos I’m a woman
And war’s inhuman
I’m telling you man
And I know just what to do man
Cos I’m a woman
I’m a human shield.

The show also includes two versions of my Peace Begins With Me song, first sung by yours truly, then at the end by Jon Harvison with the cast of my Human Shields play, Into the War Zone.

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