Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Mona with the Children: One-hit wonder with meaning

The 1980s are littered with one-hit wonders. A lot of them are pretty goofy, and illustrate just why the artists who recorded them never had more success.

Then there's Doug Cameron.

He's a Canadian musician and composer, who highlighted the plight of, "a 16-year-old girl, living in a land so cruel", who was part of a group of women hung for their faith in Iran.

The song was "Mona with the Children", and climbed all the way to number 14 on the Canadian charts on Oct. 19, 1985, a pretty good accomplishment for a protest song.

Personal memories
It was that venerable old CBC after-school show "Video Hits" that introduced me to "Mona with the Children." I still remember veejay/host Samantha Taylor explaining the song and what it was about.

A few days later I was riding the school bus (after all I was in Grade 11) with my longtime friend and neighbour Mat who told me he just loved this song. We actually talked about music a fair bit. Then, probably fifteen minutes later, it came on the bus radio. Mat knew every word, and serenaded me only as one high school kid could another.

The song
"Mona with the Children" is, according to Wikipedia, about a Persian Bahá'í girl aged 16, Mona Mahmudnizhad who, in 1983, together with nine other Bahá'í women, was sentenced to death and hanged in Shiraz, Iran, because of her membership in the Bahá'í Faith. The official charges ranged from “misleading children and youth” because she was teaching children, who had been expelled from school for their beliefs, and serving in an orphanage, to being a ‘Zionist’ because the Bahá'í World Centre is located in Israel. The video was distributed throughout the music scene and was effective in bringing the human rights situation of the Bahá'ís in Iran to the attention of the public.

Parting thoughts
"Mona with he Children" will never make any sort of top ten list of one-hit wonders of the 1980s. It likely wouldn't make a top twenty list, a top fifty, or even a top one hundred. Part of that is due to being a Canadian song.

However, where people may remember "Mickey" by Toni Basil, "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves, or "99 Red Balloons" by Nena, none of those songs will have changed the world. "Mona with the Children" and Doug Cameron actually shone a light on an issue that needed attention. For that, it is not only a one-hit wonder with meaning, but a song that made a difference

No comments:

Post a Comment