In his ongoing musical protest against the closures forced by COVID-19, Van Morrison has employed the help of Eric Clapton with a new song aimed to raise funds to support musicians that are struggling financially because of the pandemic. But the song has prompted a backlash against the classic rock stars for their history of right-wing and sometimes racist comments.
Morrison’s new collaboration with Clapton, titled “Stand and Deliver,” is the fourth anti-lockdown song the star has released since the start of the pandemic, joining songs with more blunt titles like “Born to Be Free,” “As I Walked Out” and “No More Lockdown,” which the artist says he created to protest closures ordered by the British government.
In their statement announcing the song, Morrison and Clapton kept their focus on supporting musicians and others in the live venue industry that have lost their livelihoods. All proceeds from the song will go to Morrison’s Lockdown Financial Hardship Fund.
“There are many of us who support Van and his endeavors to save live music; he is an inspiration,” Clapton said in a statement to Variety. “We must stand up and be counted because we need to find a way out of this mess. The alternative is not worth thinking about. Live music might never recover.”
“Eric’s recording is fantastic and will clearly resonate with many who share our frustrations,” Morrison said in a statement via Save Live Music.
But news of the song was met with backlash on Twitter, with people accusing Clapton and Morrison of disregarding the deaths inflicted by the virus on poorer communities. Jeffrey St. Clair, editor for left-wing news and commentary site CounterPunch, said that news of the song “Confirms everything I’ve ever thought about Clapton, a musician who has spent his entire career appropriating black music and now records his first ‘protest’ song against meager restrictions to slow a disease that is ravaging black communities.”
And novelist Hari Kunzru brought up Clapton’s infamous racist tirade at a concert in 1976, in which he called non-white attendees various racial slurs and repeatedly shouted “Keep Britain White.”
“Last time Clapton weighed in on politics they had to start Rock Against Racism,” Kunzru tweeted, referring to the musician movement triggered in 1976 in part because of Clapton’s remarks. Clapton is the worst. He has always been the worst. He was even the worst member of Cream. Van Morrison is also the worst. Even when making Astral Weeks, a sublime record that still makes me cry, he was (I have reluctantly come to accept) the worst.”
In Britain, 57,551 deaths have been reported since the start of the pandemic, and daily infections hit a new peak two weeks ago of over 33,000 new cases on November 12. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that a three-tier reopening system would go into effect starting next week, and lockdown restrictions would be temporarily relaxed during the Christmas season.