The video below shows a bunch of passengers on a commuter train in Perth, Australia being incited to sing “Over the Rainbow”—the wonderful ukelele version by Israel (“Iz”) Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole. And many of the passengers joined in. Now this is not an attempt to ask for money, which would have been my first thought had I been on that train. Rather, as Inspiralight reports, it’s one act by a movement called “The Liberators”:
Pete hands out the lyrics to the song whilst a young Ukulele player brings out a vintage uke and starts to hum out an angelic version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Within seconds other members of the public decide to join in on this outpouring of community joy.
“We had a few of the Liberators help get the ball rolling, however more than 60% of the passengers who sung along were complete strangers. We sung the entire song, progressively gaining confidence and participants as we went. When we finished an uproar of positive emotion, claps, cheers and smiles came streaming from the people.” Said Michelle, one of the Liberators who helped in the morning.
The Liberators are no strangers to these public participatory experiences having created multiple examples of freedom & human connection in Perth including the Perth Train Party which gained more than 40 million views online. The Liberators create these moments for the world to no longer be fearful of respectful self-expression in public. We expose an element of our own vulnerability as a way to give strength to those who are unable to do so yet. This is where the idea of Liberation comes in to the picture.
The next step for this Perth based international social movement is taking their concepts of love and human connection through 5 capital cities in Europe to see if these acts of spontaneous joy are universally well received or if it’s just in Perth. Assist the Liberators in sharing the love to a global audience by supporting their crowdfunding campaign here à www.pozi.be/liberatorstoeurope
My question to readers: would you have sung? I don’t know. For me, being shy, I suppose it would have depended on how many fellow passengers I saw singing along. But really, it does seem like it was a great experience.
In case you’re not familiar with the version of “Over the Rainbow” that’s played here, I’ve put it below. It astounds me that a song that I considered a bit schlocky can be made into such an emotional experience. It’s compounded for me by knowing that Iz Kamakawiwo’ole died way too young: he was only 38, but had multiple health problems from being morbidly obese. He was reportedly a wonderful person, and when he died he had a state funeral, with his big body encased in a koa wood coffin and placed in the Hawaiian state capitol building: the first time that honor was accorded to someone not in the government. He left behind a wife and one child.
Back when I used to watch more television, one of my favorite television shows was E.R., about an emergency room medical staff in Chicago. One of the doctors, Mark Greene (played by Anthony Edwards), was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and decided to stop chemotherapy and end his life with his partner and child in Hawaii. His daughter played this song to him when he was dying (you can see that scene here), and it made me blubber like a baby. I don’t dare watch that video because it’ll happen again.
RIP Iz. Your life was too short, as are ours.