LIVING COLOUR's VERNON REID: 'The Most Dangerous Person In Any Room Is The Person That Other People Are Willing To Listen To'
August 13, 2023
In a new interview with Paul Cashmere of Noise11.com, LIVING COLOUR guitarist Vernon Reid spoke about the lyrical inspiration for the band's early songs "This Is The Life" and "Cult Of Personality". He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I wrote that song ['This Is The Life'] at a time when everything was going great for me — everything was going great. But I had to play that song when divorcing from my first wife. I played that song since my friend Greg Tate died. And one of the lines is, 'In another life, your loved ones never die.' And so it's one of those things that once you live with it… And then people have said, 'Man, that song meant a lot to me.' And it's amazing because we've had to live it. That's the thing about writing a lyric, is that you have to live with that lyric. Part of the thing about that is you're not in an isolated environment by yourself.
"Whenever I hear [late pop superstar] Whitney Houston now, it's hard for me to listen to Whitney Houston because she was literally — I could say Whitney Houston and I could also say [late NIRVANA frontman] Kurt Cobain; they were the voices of their generation," he continued. "But what did it cost them? Really, what did it cost them to be that?
"When success happened to Kurt Cobain, it's weird to think of it as a trauma, but it was clearly that, 'cause people were, like, 'Man, he was in our community,' and jealousy is a real thing. And people [were, like], 'Well you sold out,' just because it was a phenomenon. You can't control that.
"I think we were very fortunate with 'Cult Of Personality' because it's a song about a fascinating aspect of the human condition," Reid added. "Why do we choose this person to be the person we're willing to listen to? That's the thing. The most dangerous person in any room is the person that other people are willing to listen to. And why this person and not that person? And we are living with that now. The populism is all about that."
In June 2020, LIVING COLOUR released a video for "This Is The Life" featuring footage of the peaceful protests that swelled across the U.S. and around the world over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. The original version of "This Is The Life" appeared on LIVING COLOUR's 1990 album "Time's Up".
In a statement accompanying the video's release, LIVING COLOUR said: "'Time's Up' was released 30 years ago and sadly we're still fighting the same fight. If you don't like the current agenda, it's your responsibility to go out an VOTE!"
A few days after Floyd's death, Reid took to his Twitter to write: " Of all the shocking mobile phone recorded extra judicial Police killings, the murder of George Floyd is the most depraved exercise in contemptuous disregard for human life I've ever seen. Next time you see it- if you can stomach it- pay attention to the hand in pocket posture."
LIVING COLOUR's latest album, "Shade", was released in September 2017 via Megaforce Records.
LIVING COLOUR singer Corey Glover's side projects in recent years have included some acting, touring as a member of jam band GALACTIC and forming the jazz-rock supergroup ULTRAPHONIX with legendary DOKKEN guitarist George Lynch. Reid, for his part, has released solo albums and been involved in side projects with Masque and YOHIMBE BROTHERS; collaborated with Mick Jagger, Bill Frisell, Jack Bruce and Ronald Shannon Jackson, among many others; produced albums for Salif Keita and James Blood Ulmer; and composed film scores.
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