The song has evolved into the way to reach an apathetic public. In the case of “We Are the World” and “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” a song can even raise money for a cause – call it a cause-song. Which brings us to the first cause-song for the Iranian protests. It’s called “United for Neda,” referring to the young woman who was killed two weeks ago during street protests in Tehran. As The World’s Marco Werman tells us, this is not a song that could’ve been produced in Iran.
If you’re going to produce a song to pay tribute to the protestors in the streets of Iran, where’re you going to produce it? You go to California, where a lot of creative Iranian expatriates live. Like Los Angeles music producer and musician Mams Taylor.
As you know LA has a huge Iranian community, and these are all people who left the country because of these circumstances, because of the dictatorship, not being able to express themselves, as musicians, as artists. And here we are celebrating freedom every single day, and sometimes we take it for granted.
Mams Taylor was born in Iran. His family moved to London when he was a kid. And five years ago, Taylor moved to Los Angeles.
From his production studio, he’s had one ear on the mixing console for the past couple of weeks.
It’s been all-consuming, but it was the shooting and death of 16 year-old Neda Agha-Soltan that prompted Taylor to write his song.
“Of course, the Neda thing, seeing that, made me angry, it made me sad, it made me really think “I’ve got to do something about this, I’ve got to do my part.”
All the performers on the song and in the accompanying video are Iranian expats. Many of them were already critical of the Islamic Revolution. But Mams Taylor says he was still impressed with the way his project coalesced.
“It was unbelievably touching how people came forward so readily and gave up whatever else they had in their schedules, and these are people I don’t know very well, just through a friend’s friend kind of thing. And the way everybody came together really touched me and showed me that when it comes to issues that close to the heart people are really willing to get involved and do their bit.”
And about that name, Mams Taylor…
“When I get presented the Grammy, it’s going to be difficult to say the actual last name, which is a real mouthful, so it’s my stage name really. And also for the protection of family I have in Iran, I think if I’m expressing political views, I definitely think that Taylor is the name for me.”
Now that’s something not every musician has to consider when figuring out what to call themselves. Mams Taylor has produced two versions of “United for Neda.” One in English, the other in Farsi.
Taylor does not see this as a way to raise funds. He just wants to raise awareness. And he hopes “United for Neda” will be heard in Iran, assuming it’s not blocked by country’s online censors.
For The World, I’m Marco Werman.