Noa and Jorge Drexler covered The Police's mythical song to remind us of the drama of New Orleans. by EDWIN WINKELS
BARCELONA October 27th 2005.
"Just a castaway, an island lost at sea..." The chords and the final lyrics had been chosen with success by the Israeli singer Noa and the Uruguayan Jorge Drexler, accompanied by the guitarist Gil Dor. Covering one of the most popular songs of The Police, the trio sent their own and opportune message in a bottle from an intimate stage .
"I'll send an SOS to the world", they sang, expecting that "someone gets my message in a bottle".
As the lyrics were in English, Ashton Phelps (Publisher and President of the Times-Picayune of New Orleans) could understand them quite well. Maybe he went back two months in time, and those lyrics may have reminded him of how
they felt (he and his journalists and photographers)during those days at the end of August, alone in a city flooded, devising and removing their information to launch an SOS to the world. The first days they published their journal through the internet edition, the modern version and less desperate of that "message in a bottle".
And Noa and Drexler sang: "Walked out this morning don't believe what I saw, a hundred billion bottles washed up on
the shore, seems I'm not alone in being alone, a hundred billion castaways looking for a home". The music adorned an emotional night, with the homage to Antonio Asensio and the prize al courage of the American newspaper, that Phelps took the opportunity to recall the ties of its city with Spain. He removed the watch from his wrist and showed the sphere, a copy of a Spanish coin, the picayune, that was circulated in New Orleans when the newspaper was founded, in 1837, and whose value covered the price of a copy of the newspaper. On the coin, the name of Carlos III was written in latin. "We give that watch to each person that has been working for 25 years for the newspaper", said Phelps.
Then Noa sang another phrase for him in English, from another song adapted for the event, " Milonga del moro judío" by Jorge Drexler, winner of an Oscar: "I try not to read the newspapers, because there's no death that doesn't hurt me". But if the newspapers don't exist, many times the world would not be informed of those deaths, almost always innocent, or of governmental failures as before and after the break of the dikes of New Orleans, uncovered by the The Times-Picayune.
At the Big Room of the National Theater of Catalonia, some plasma screens reflected brief images of New Orleans and titles news published on th the newspaper. "Under the water". And on the same screens the guests travelled from Barcelona through some images of webcams to New Delhi, Paris, Tokyo, New York, Cairo, Moscow, Beijing, Madrid, Jakarta, London and Seoul. "With each time, we increasingly become citizens of the world, connected by technological bridges", reflected the conductor of the act, Àngels Barceló, before turning around and introducing Noa, Drexler and Gil Dor.
And they started their performance with a song by the Israeli singer, "Again and again" to melt any lover or wife, or to touch a widow: "And I want to dance this dance with you,This crazy dance for two, And dancing I’ll pretend Everything's alright And you, stay with me tonight ...Baby... "
"And after the night, life continues and awaits another day", recalled the awarded Ashton Phelps, insisting on one of the large virtues of journalism. The future is not clear,he said, but what is sure is that tomorrow we will print another newspaper.
Article published at El periodico de Cataluña October 27th 2005.
About Antonio Asensio's Journalism Award: