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Damon Albarn | 12:08 UK time, Thursday, 27 December 2007

The Today programme logoAmong the things I wanted to do as guest editor of the Today programme (as well as cover table tennis and debate nuclear weapons) was to go to Africa and talk about recycling.

In the programme we featured a recycling project in Mali. I first went there about eight years ago, and it was a complete revelation to me. It was incredibly exciting; I found the place packed with passionate, beautiful, optimistic people who despite almost unimaginable problems have not lost a sense of who they are and how to relate to each other.

mali.jpgThe scheme we featured is one which has evolved through necessity. They really do make waste metals into ploughshares. It also raises big issues for us. Whenever I get worried about my own levels of waste, I always go back in my own mind to places like it - everything seems to be precious and people wouldn't dream of throwing away something they could recycle.

It's a strange vision of the future - places like it are not backward, actually they're modern. And even though it's not a particularly palatable lesson, it's one we've got to learn as a society. You can hear more from our trip to Mali here.

In the programme we also talked a bit about the changing nature of the music industry. Chris Morrison, manager of Blur and Gorillaz, reflected on how technology and attitudes have changed since the early 70s when he was managing Thin Lizzy.

And we also thought a bit about the nature of celebrity. I strongly believe we need to dismantle significant parts of our culture and re-examine them. I think the celebrity thing sends all the wrong messages - creating a mindset that you can get something for nothing and that it's easy to acquire status and fame.

X-Factor would be the first thing I'd tackle. But never Radio Four.

My entire life has been supplemented by Radio Four, from hearing my mum tuning in to the Archers to my anxious middle-aged sleeplessness being calmed by night-time radio. I am Radio Four and Radio Four is me. And when the time comes, I want it piped into my coffin.


  • 1.
  • At 03:15 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

Table tennis, nuclear weapons and recycling in Mali: OK. But for a celebrity to say that 'the celebrity thing sends all the wrong messages - creating a mindset that you can get something for nothing and that it's easy to acquire status and fame': the operative word, Damon, is 'duh'. That's precisely the problem: you CAN get something for nothing and it IS easy to acquire status and fame. Ask Billy & Henry Windsor. And to pretend Radio 4 isn't part of the problem is mad. It's what made a bog-standard journalist like John Humphreys into the monster he is today. Stick to the indie-pop, Damon.

  • 2.
  • At 05:12 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

Come off it Damon.

'Middle class muso flies in with Bono by learjet to tell us all to holiday in the UK.'

To be followed by predictable soul searching then more carbon emmissions as you jet off to Africa with your trendy mates to watch them do recycling. What a celebrity cliche.

I'm only surprised you didn't take the opportunity to buy yourself a new child.

What's your veiw on any topic? 'Painfully right on' covers it pretty well. Its not all your fault though. You probably never hear any other ideas - all your flunkeys no doubt get all their arguements straight out of the Guardian. (You mean there are other arguements?)

Of course you love Radio 4. Of course you love the BBC. They love you back and they are right behind you on all your good causes. That is why the tax take for UK public service broadcasting needs to be top sliced and that is why the BBC needs to be broken up.

By the way, those on the X factor are just like you, whether you care to admit it or not. Be honest, early Blur were not really that different from the boy bands you get on X factor were they? Maybe you just resent them devaluing your currency.

I liked 'Demon Days' though.

  • 3.
  • At 06:58 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Gary wrote:

18 of the 24 stories from around England are to do with death, murder or injuries, the rest to do with misery such as strikes.

The 3 key top stories are to do with a dead couple, a Pc with heart disease and three woman collapsing.

The two items in features, views and analysis are to do with domestic violence and the killing of the British fishing industry.

Three of the six top stories are to do with fatalities and cancer.

Soon there will be an article on depression due to all the bad news being reported by the BBC.

  • 4.
  • At 07:47 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • David Meyer wrote:

@Richard - Rubbish. Albarn worked his way up to the top and is more than justified in using his position as a platform for speaking... well, the truth. Do you actually disagree with anything he said? Does it not bear repeating, especially from a "celeb"? And by the way, if you still associate Damon Albarn exclusively with indie pop then you´re clearly not the most qualified commentator in this situation.

  • 5.
  • At 10:54 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

You make a good point about the celebrity culture Damon. As far as I'm concerned there is nothing wrong with musicians, athletes even journalists being recognised for their achievements. The problem is the idea that 'celebrity' can be easily gained, with limited talent or effort. Talk to pupils in the less advantaged parts of the country, like those I teach, and many will tell you they want to be pop-stars or footballers. Why, they ask, do they need GCSEs when they are going to play in the premiership or be the next big thing? While it has been many a child's dream to captain England or have a number one single, thanks to the x-factor and its like, many now believe they can. Some will, and good luck to them, but far more will blight their future by chasing their dream.

  • 6.
  • At 11:15 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • chris wrote:

damon albarn is, in many ways, the antithesis of the modern 'celebrity', and to call him such shows an ignorance to everything he has done over the last five years.

it says a lot when your operative word is 'duh', richard. damon is well aware of the current situation of getting something for nothing, which is exactly why he is proposing a change. anyone looking at the breadth of what he has achieved in modern pop music would know he does not fit into this category.

i wouldn't say radio 4 is contributing heavily to the heat/big brother/x factor detritus we have to sift through every day in the papers and on the news.

bad post.

  • 7.
  • At 11:42 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

So true Damon.

And I am sure you would echo, with me, the immortal words of Spiggy Topes; 'war is a 'orrible fing".

  • 8.
  • At 12:24 AM on 28 Dec 2007,
  • Kevin Swales wrote:

Agree 100% with Damon.


  • 9.
  • At 02:03 AM on 28 Dec 2007,
  • Jeff Duncan wrote:

It would have been easier for Damon to have said nothing but at least he has stuck his head above the crowd of celebrity insanity and said what the majority think.

The problem with society is that teenagers and some of the young adults in our society are obsessed with style, celebrities, drink and getting things the easy route.

Gone are the days when hard work and values defined a young person.

It's time to turn around a nation of wannabe brats and shun ALL celebrity trash tv. The Beckhams are top of my list - oh and you can take violent RAP music with you as well!

I am happy to hear further articulation of hositility to the media and in particular the totally vacuous and futile 'entertainment' presented to make completely common (in the sense that there is evidently nothing whatever exceptional about them)individuals like Sharon Osborne and Jonathon Ross unwarrantably rich. Damon seems to be making a point that Vivienne Westwood has addressed this year in her Active Resistance to Propaganda campaign. Let's hear more - if only there was really a choice to have no advertising.

  • 11.
  • At 11:46 AM on 28 Dec 2007,
  • M Vere wrote:

You are right, but you are also wrong.Ever since 1997 with the insulting removal of "excellence" to the province of "intellectual elitism" by a sneering Government it has been not only possible ,but more likely to have it all without any discernible talent, and even provided a platform for the supremely mediocre to have massive comebacks.

We live in a sub -culture worship of pure bilge in everything zone. All media holds responsibility for that too.Public are sheep for most part and follow the bouncing ball as dictated by media and politicians.The last thing they want is excellence or individuality, and any ability to be a non corporate thinker.

I have spent most of my life living in Far and Middle East along with Africa and know firsthand probably a lot more than you though i respect you are trying hard but public simply do not care.They will trot to buy their X by Kylie or XF, dross irrespective.

We need an Atlas Shrugged type revolution to change all this thinking or more apt non thinking attitude

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