Kevin Godley

Roger Glover

Bob Geldof remembers One World One Voice 30 years on

"It was a thesis really. An idea that was something of a given and had become a cliché by 1990. The theory was that the common language of the world was not Mandarin or Spanish - much less `English’ - but music. Music was understandable to anyone and everyone regardless of culture and where you were from or existed now. Tunes were the Lingua Franca, and notes the structure of a universal culture that transcended the merely local. So what did that sound like once removed from its cultural strictures or stylistic ghettos? What happened when the rock star and the famous cellist musically met the other scales, modalities, tones and melodic structures of, well, everybody else? The theory was that it would work. If music was indeed as they said, then it must. But would it?

There is a type of nerdish musical geek always lurking in the rock ‘n roll weeds. They are usually highly skilled, extremely thoughtful and seek out in their own music or through others a way forward (or back - often of equal value in music) to a newer or different expression. If only for themselves. Some wish to experiment just with a single chord. Others with the galaxy of options that music offers; others just think up tunes or songs or whatever. And that happens everywhere and all the time. But in England there is a small coterie of experimenters who are also brilliant pop writers. They write and produce and play and sing hit records and are very good indeed at doing that, but they also seem perennially dissatisfied with JUST doing that, satisfying as it may be for a moment. They are intrigued that the most ‘primitive’ sounds or noises can evoke either precisely the same senses as Bach or Nirvana or something recognisable but ‘unfelt’ before. Something always felt to be there, yet somehow maddeningly out of reach; shimmering like a musical mirage on the edge of near. It was this bunch who turned away from ’normal’; instead ripping open the latest computer or electro-whatever instrument, ignoring the instruction manual, stabbing and jabbing away at it to see what noises it made, sucking them up, making a couple of hits and chucking the thing out again and deciding it would be a laugh to send a bit of music off into the world on its own voyage of discovery like a musical HMS Beagle, and see what came back. Tapes were passed from musician to musician like a Chinese whisper, but where there was no wrong answer. No distortion of the original notion. They listened to what someone unknown to them had put down before and spun their own golden threads onto it, or around it, or from it. Turned out that yeah, the theory was right. You listened, chuckled to yourself at the recognition of something way beyond language or even really sense and the brain says: “Yeah I’m on it, this is what I’m getting from it and I’m taking it over here: now what do you make of that? Oh yeah, cool, I gotcha dude, here’s me coming back at you.” It took a while. The tapes came home and mad music tumbled out in a coherence of action, beat, melody, tone, scansion, structure, lyric and the rest. Nothing seemed weird. Everything kinda ‘fitted’. Instruments and scales forced their odd ways into the narrative without crashing or hijacking the party. The music had come from everywhere. It was made by dozens of people from dozens of peoples. It sounded great. It sounded so....human."

Stewart Copeland

Stephen W Tayler

Stevie Nicks

Click play below to hear a voice message from Stevie Nicks, talking about One World One Voice.