Dressed in a zip-up fleece and shorts, Manu Chao spoke to a few hundred attendees at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism auditorium in what will likely be a very memorable night for those able to attain the first come/first serve tickets. Manu Chao — invited on behalf of USC professor Josh Kun and USC Annenberg Distinguished Lecture Series on Latin American Arts and Culture — began the evening by admitting he didn’t know what to talk about. Thankfully, he dove into professor Kun’s questions and engaged in a very loose conversation about global politics, democracy, his musical inspirations, career and education.
Some highlights from the evening:
- Manu touched upon what he called “mafia dictatorships” versus “military dictatorships” as the greatest enemy to democracy.
- Manu Chao once lived with Tijuana No’s Luis Güereña in Tijuana, MX, where he wrote “Bienvenida A Tijuana.”
- Manu talked about his experiences as a voter in France. He says, “Like millions of people, I’ve voted all my life…but I’ve never voted for someone I’ve really like. I’ve always voted for the less, bad person.”
- In his earliest days of musical experimentation, Manu recounted the many influences he grew to love including vocalist Dave Bartholomew and his “Monkey Speaks His Mind” track, which directly inspired one of Manu Chao’s most memorable songs.
Manu Chao’s liveliest moment came when he admitted being initially apprehensive about visiting the University of Southern California. “If my mother knew I was speaking at a private school, she would kill me.” He went on to question why the most powerful nation in the world would allow for a system mobilized by profit to dictate access to education, inciting a raucous applause from the audience. It was an intriguing reaction considering USC, noted to be the third most economically diverse top-ranked school in the nation, has a yearly tuition (housing and living expenses combined with mandatory fees) for the 2010-2011 year hovering at $55,578. Yet, as professor Kun later told us, “roughly 60% of the school’s student body receives some form of financial aid/scholarship, making USC more affordable for many students than some public universities (which are themselves costly– closer to matching the rates of private schools than to being free).” It’s surely an important discussion to be continued.
Video of Manu Chao’s acoustic performance of Politik Kills below!