“This music is all a part of another tomorrow.
Another kind of language.
Speaking things of nature, naturalness, the way it should be.
Speaking things of blackness, about the void.
The endless void.
The bottomless pit surrounding you.
Why doesn’t the Earth fall?
How can you walk upon it?
It’s the music.
It’s the music of the Earth.
The music of the sun and the stars.
The music of yourself.
Yes, you are music too.
You are instruments.
Everyone is supposed to be playing their part.”
|JOHN SINCLAIR: I guess we can talk about the planet…
SUN RA: Well, the planet is in such a bad condition that it’s inexpressible. It was bad enough but now it’s got worse. They’re not sure about their religions, they’re not sure about their politics, they’re not sure about education and philosophy, they’re not sure about anything…so you’ve got complete confusion.
JS: Utter Chaos…
SUN RA: They had utter chaos, then ultra chaos…it’s knocking on everybody’s door. In the past things came and knocked on a few people’s doors, but this is a different age. It’s like the atomic bomb, it knocks on everybody’s door. That makes a different story. Everybody’s involved.
JS: I don’t think everybody’s caught up in this chaos, I mean I think we both know people who have got something to offer. Instead of that.
SUN RA: Yeah, they got something to offer, but can they do anything about it? That’s the problem. Just to have something to offer isn’t enough now. So many men and women have come around with something to offer, and some of them became successful, but that doesn’t mean anything. Maybe success meaning that they were recognized by the masses or by the rulers, one or the other, but they really don’t have any power to retain any success. They’re here today and gone tomorrow. If they would come over into another environment or another planet, they wouldn’t be successful. And most of them are caught up in their little bags, in their own little thing, and I call that an eternity–they’re over in a cycle, an eternity, a circle…so they stay over in there, because there’s comparative safety there–seemingly. And they stay over in there until some unknown force strikes the surface and snatches them out of there and they disappear–they’re not on the planet. So they really didn’t make it. Real security means you have protection, I’d say, forever. Even people with guns and all that, like policemen, they don’t have any security…something’ll snatch them away too. They talk about protecting a state or a government, but they can’t even protect themselves. There’s something knocking at everybody’s door, and it’s not to be denied. Governments know it…because people are changing, a lot people are getting so they just don’t care, you know, something is happening but they just don’t have any go-it-iveness or initiative. So how are you going to rule if you have people like that? If you got people who don’t care? So, actually, the rulers on this planet are in trouble. And I sympathize with them. The people are slowing down more and more, and they’re changing every day. So it’s gotten to that point now…and this is where a lot of musicians don’t really see it. They got their new music, and their new thing, and that’s nice, that’s a thrill, but what’s going to happen after the thrill dies down? What good’s music if you don’t have people to play it for? When you got people who are hopeless, it’s contagious. So many of the musicians are seeking to escape from all that, I can see that, and for a long time the musicians could escape–but now they’re faced with something else. They got to change the way they write, they got to change the way they play, and of course it comes down to strict discipline. The people have had freedom, but they really haven’t done anything. I’m not even interested in it, because that doesn’t help anybody. The only freedom they’ll get is over in the cemetery; then they’ll be free. It’s a scientific truth: people are only free when they’re dead. So actually, if I was ruling, I wouldn’t let the people talk about freedom. I wouldn’t let the people talk about freedom, I wouldn’t let them fight for it, I wouldn’t let them speak of it…I wouldn’t let them talk about peace, I wouldn’t let them picket for it, I wouldn’t let them have anything to do with peace. Because the whole thing is very simple: they’re free when they’re dead, and they’re at rest, and at peace when they’re dead. It actually says so: Rest in peace. So when the United States by talking about peace, it’s talking about death. They mean that kind of peace. And when the people got a Prince of Peace, the Prince would have to be Death. Of course, this is another kind of mathematics I’m doing…it’s something that they can see if they’ll just go and look in the cemetery. There’s a lot of people out there– it’s a city, they got more people out there than they got on the planet walking around. And they are showing you what peace is. Because they at peace–final peace, definite, absolute peace. Now they’re free, too–and nothing bothers their freedom. They’re free to be dead. I’ve had a lot of difficulty trying to tell people that they should investigate that peace and that freedom, because what I’m trying to tell them is too incredible to be true. They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but I know one thing–I balance my equations, and I balance them scientifically, and I know that that’s the main thing bothering this planet. It’s come out in the open now — not all that power–the power of peace and freedom…and equality. The only equality they got too, is that all of them die. I notice that all of them don’t have the same amount of money, though, or the same amount of opportunity–so it’s not really true. I know I never had some opportunities that I should have had–I never had them–probably because I wasn’t interested in them. Too limited.
JS: You say you’ve changed the name of the band from the Myth-Science Arkestra to the Astro-Infinity Arkestra….
SUN RA: Well, actually I didn’t change it–that’s just one of the dimensions. Because when I play sometimes I use “Myth-Science”–I’ve got some songs that come under that–and then I had some under the Solar Arkestra…and then I got the Astro-Infinity–and all of them mean different things to me.
JS: Other Planes of There….
SUN RA: Yes…all of them are based on these other planes, which is actually…I mean I think people need them now. They should be trying them out, see what’ll happen. In fact they’re gonna have to–because I might be on Jupiter or Mars by then. Because I’m not stopping my program. Now I got the Solar Arkestra, the Myth-Science, and the Astro-Infinity–and soon I’ll have something else. Just like a university–I’ve got my different courses set up–and they deal with things that are going to be beneficial to people. But it’s not religious, like some people are saying–I’m not the least bit religious, I’m not interested in that. Because churches don’t do anything but bring people…peace. What I’m talking about is discipline–striving for things that will never be, they need to discipline themselves so they can do something beneficial for people. But they keep talking about peace. Like I say, the only time they’ll be peaceful is when they’re dead–they’ll look very peaceful then, and they’ll BE very peaceful. Now, my contention is that some people or some intelligence has fixed up words for people, and they got a choice of what they want. There are some words that sound very bad, but they are very good for people. And there are some words that sound very good, but they are very bad. And this is what is really happening on this planet–it’s very simple. Some intelligence set up words, and enticed the people to be part of that word. They set up civilizations, churches, educational systems, all based on words. You can see that something is wrong–and if something is wrong, it must be the educational system and what it teaches them to think. It’s in the political system, and the religious system, it’s even over in the science department so to speak.
JS: What does the music have to do with this, then?
SUN RA: The music…a lot of musicians are ideal, they’re in tune with the earth, they’re in tune with the people–please the people–they please the people or please the rulers. They’re the ones who’ve got the money. They’re playing what the people want, or what they say the people want. But these musicians are really quite afraid–afraid of stepping beyond tradition, into something that would require new ways of thinking and new ways of action. However, they’re not afraid to go out there in space and all, like the astronauts…because it’s necessary in these times. And it’s necessary for them to keep agitating for peace, and to keep killing each other like they do. That’s the main thing about science, that it’s set up to find new ways for people to kill each other. And yet I used to think that was so bad…but now, after looking at people, the more I see them I’m not going to condemn them for eliminating each other–not any more I’m not–not when I see what they are. I thought they were very nice and true and spiritual and it hurt me to see them doing what they do. But now it doesn’t bother me, because I’m involved with my other planes of discipline. I’m trying to discipline my self–I mean my other self, because I’m not too worried about my self. Because they teach you not to be selfish anyway, not to think about your self. So I think about my other self–that’s the self that’s never really had a chance. The music that I’m playing, that’s my other self playing. And that disturbs some people because they never gave that other self a chance. The natural self. So that’s my natural self playing. And it’s very serious–a lot of people think they can just come on this planet and do what they want to do, be what they want to be, and there’s no repercussions whatsoever. But that’s not true. It’s not a matter of having no hell–this is hell here–but it’s just a matter of, eventually reaping just what you sow. Whether it’s good or bad. You set up something, and then it starts to happen. It’s like when I started studying, I wanted to find out what was happening on this planet. Then I found out that it’s in a worse condition than I ever dreamed of, and I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. But since I had set that up as my objective, I can’t avoid it.
JS: How did you start studying?
SUN RA: I suppose it started back when I was going to Sunday school…and I just didn’t feel like going there. I liked to walk around with my friends in the sun and talk and see each other. That’s what we’d do–play hookey from Sunday school and walk around in the sun and talk–three or four of us–I felt happy then, being outside of school, because they taught the same thing every year–it was like a commercial thing–never anything else. I never learned anything in school–just repeating words. The people in the school were nice–they were nice people–but there was just something wrong. Then I had to really study, read a lot of books. Then I went to college, and that was interesting too, read a lot of books there, but the men who taught me didn’t prove anything. The point about it was, if there wasn’t a god, then people wouldn’t die. I came to that conclusion, that the only reason people died was because there is a god, and the only reason people are suffering is because there is a god. The way to look at it, the way people die proves that something is killing them–something superior to them always wins. A superior force. So death is a god, if nothing else, and all people are subject to it, so death’s their god. They aren’t actually subject to the United States or Russia or anything, they’re subject to their god–Death. That’s very obvious. The point is, having reached that point, what to do about it? If they ever reach that point, should they be obedient to the god Death or should they be rebels? Because if they’re obedient to God and are righteous, then the most appropriate thing to do is to die. Then, when they’re dead, they’re holy and righteous.
JS: What happens if you rebel?
SUN RA: If you rebel, then you move over into uncharted paths and…and of course they won’t like it. What would God look like if his subjects were to rebel? But you don’t have nothing to lose–because you don’t have anything anyway, really. I don’t see anything Death gets people–might send them some flowers, but they can’t even smell them. The only thing it offers them is…absolute peace. It’s so ridiculous to say that everybody has to die–it’s a waste of time–people with magnificent minds, magnificent talents, why can’t they keep on going on? Because it doesn’t even make sense that they shouldn’t. That’s what I’m talking about in my music–All my music really has happiness over in it…and people can listen to it and get that from it. I know I got something to help people but–I don’t know what to do about it. I can put it over in music, the happiness in that or what I call the space feeling–it’s in the music and everybody can hear that. I’ve got some beauty for them too–there’s no sadness over in that. Not the way most musicians do…they have very great emotions…I appreciate every musician, I don’t care what kind of music they play. I appreciate anything that any musician does on a planet like this one. It’s very heartening in a sense to find somebody trying to do something besides killing people. Like I wrote a number–I think the name of it was “If I had a Hammer”–and some gospel group did it. It was a masterpiece the way they did it–they feel it and I appreciate that. But unfortunately some jazz musicians speak against this form of music–the new form of music–and this is very bad because it’s very narrow-minded. It’s not right. Because jazz in the earlier days–the musicians were innovators and they were playing something that wasn’t according to the status quo and they appreciated one another and anybody who DID something different they appreciated them and supported them. even if they couldn’t play it they supported it–they didn’t talk about it and all that. You got a case where a lot of successfulmusicians and some people who say they are musicians are talking against innovators of music. It’s very bad to find that musicians want to restrict another musician. I don’t see the artists restricting the artists, I really don’t see that. Even in religion I notice the churches–the Catholic Church is getting liberal and changing their rules. Even governments are relaxing their rules and laws. Now a case like that, where all these diehards and at least the people who just held to the status quo are beginning to see that they’re going to have to give in–it’s imperative that all musicians stop criticizing their brother musicians because they’re innovators and they really should be happening and they really should be taking some of the money they’re making and putting up some sums and be right there with them listening or helpingbecause they don’t have anything to lose. In fact they could invest in them and make themselves some money. Now they’re trying to be selfish in an art that you’re not supposed to be selfish in. Because you can go all the way back and see that the musicians used to be minstrels–troubadors–they weren’t selfish–they were out there playing for people. Now a lot of people are getting to say that musicians are trying to be politicians or trying to be religious and all of that, but that’s not necessarily true. They’re only doing what their brother musicians did, through the ages. They gave what they had to give because they were interested in people and they came out and brought something people needed. Just like people need music now. Even the Army can’t get along without it–they got their band, and the Marines got their band and the Navy and the Air Force got their band and everything has its music. They got to have that. Now why can’t people just have bands? They’re fighting too, just like any soldier–they’re fighting a battle to exist every day and their morale gets low too. So I would say that if governments are going to have bands to keep up the morale of their soldiers and the ones who pay the soldiers are the people, why can’t they have bands to keep the morale of the people up? I think they do deserve something because they’re paying so much taxes and they’re paying the politicians’ salary and they’re keeping the thing going, so they should not be deprived of music and entertainment…they deserve some entertainment just as much as soldiers do. I’m not saying that soldiers should not have it. They need it. If they’re going to be in the business of murder incorporated. Because that’s really all it is and even a simple child knows that…I go by feeling and spirit too. I’m not “righteous” but I know that spirits can tune in on other spirits, and these people’s spirits are plenty low.
So you come down to the point where you’ve got to have a better world. Now my contribution is in the music. In the first place, I feel that people have got to know–they got to know what happensas is. Now, they’ve never really been happy on this planet because they didn’t ever have anything to be happy about. So then I show them in the music and give a feeling of happiness so they’ll know when they’re happy and when they’re sad. But I really don’t think people know the difference between good & evil and right & wrong on this planet. They simply don’t think…Now, to some people it seems like the music doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m talking about, but it does. Because music is a language and I’m speaking these things over in it. So in order to understand the music people will have to know some of the thoughts I’m thinking. They’ll know what I’m thinking and what I really want, and they will have a better understanding…Now, my music is about a better place for people to live, not to have a place where they have to die to get there, I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about a place where they can live a method out–my equation is that it’s very bad to live and it’s very bad to die, because if you live you die and if you die you live…because here’s an equation set up that’s fooling folks. Now, the same thing happens in music. There’s a certain place a musician reaches where he bases what he’s doing on laws. So if you reach a certain point then there’s nothing binding or holding you back. If you study long enough, or if you feel in tune with something, you’ve got a perfect right to express yourself. That’s what I’ve done–I’ve passed the point of the law, and yet when people really see what I’m doing it does follow the law–it doesn’t really break the law, but it’s an advanced point of it in a sense…I’m capable of doing it and I do it naturally, and actually I should have had a chance some time ago to write not only for my band, but for other musicians to share what I’m doing as well. So they can learn something too. Because I know I always learn from other musicians, like when I play in somebody else’s band I always learn something, I always appreciated what they were doing. It’s wonderful for a musician to write an arrangement, to create something, and you play it and see what his ideas are. It’s quite a pleasure. And I certainly played in a lot of bands–they didn’t even know that I could arrange, because I never really cared about it. It was just a matter of fate pushing me into other people’s eyesight. Because I do have something to offer them other than music. And they have to face it, because I have to face it you see. They’re going to have to really consider it. And that goes for preachers too. I feel sorry for them. I don’t know of anybody I feel more sorry for, unless it’s the President of the United States or the people who are ruling. Because they got a job on their hands. Because they’re changing ages–one age moves over into another one, and the rulers–they’re in trouble. You’ve got not only a change of age, but a change of laws–the law that has been the law on this planet has moved over to no longer be the law. Now when that happens, and since this planet for thousands of years has been up under that law of death and destruction, it’s moving over into something else which I choose to call MYTH, a MYTH-SCIENCE, because it’s something that people don’t know anything about. That’s why I’m using the name MYTH-SCIENCE ARKESTRA, because I’m interested in happiness for people, which is just a myth, because they’re not happy. I would say that the synonym for myth is happiness–because that’s why they go to the show, to the movies, they be sitting up there under these myths trying to get themselves some happiness. And if the actors can indulge in myth, why can’t the musicians? They might be actors in sound, they got a right to do that, the only thing about musicians is that I notice they don’t do too much sticking together. So with the musicians, I try them out and see just what they can do–because I don’t consider myself part of this planet because I don’t act like them, and I’ve noticed that some people treat me very cruel and run over me just like they thought I was a fool. But it wasn’t that, I was sympathetic with them and trying to help them because I saw their terrible condition and thought that maybe they could see the point…I feel that musicians are actually going to have to tell the truth about each other and be honest so they can get some respect from the world–because the world might not know these things like I’m saying, but they can FEEL them. They can feel it when a musician is not sincere, and this is the reason why a lot of people have got disinterested in musicians, because they feel so much phony-ism. Musicians get it in their mind that they want to be great or they get up there and forget that they’re not really great, that there’s some musicians who have played things and have done things that had more value possibly than what they’re doing, because they were living in a different age and they were much happier. You can get some old records that are beautiful and you’ll never forget them. There’s a record by Duke Ellington called “Jazz Cocktail” and I…when I was growing up I always liked to listen to that record, it was really a masterpiece of arranging and had a lot of happiness in it…
It was sincere music, and sincere music is what’s happening now. The pretenders and the phonies are all done–they’ve had their day–and they’re producing some nice sounds. It’s very strong, but they’re not doing anything with it. One thing though, the musicians who are playing the new thing are going to have to learn music thoroughly, that’s because I know it thoroughly you see. A lot of people say that I’m just playing around, but it’s not like that. I know all the laws of music, I was reared up playing classics and I went to college and studies music for teachers’ training, so I knowmusic. But I’m just following my own way, and I know what I’m doing. All the musicians in my band are thoroughly trained, they can read anything, and they have to be able to do that if they’re going to work with my band. Everyone of them–schooled musicians–in fact, I had to unschool them. And I’m still doing it. That’s the way it is.
JS: Do you want to make any last statement?
SUN RA: Yes…You know, I feel that the colleges are looking for something that’s different, but I feel that there are some blocks between my music and the people who would understand what I’m talking about and could help me. But some way they have been blocked from it, and know what I know, and they don’t know what I know, and they should be trying to find out. I know what they know, too, that’s pretty one-sided, I know what they know and they don’t know what I know. I took time out to study what they know, and it’s nice, and they should take time out to study what I know, and they should compare it to what they know. So they can get someplace. That’s what should be happening.
[Drunk walks into Sun Ras employment agency]
Drunk: My man, whats happenin? Sun Ra: Everything is happenin. Drunk: What is this... I mean what... where am I? Who is you? Sun Ra: I am everything, and nuthin. Drunk: Nuthin? Well you betta tell me about this nuthin stuff, cause, uh, I need a job. I... I dont know what to do. Sun Ra: What have you been doin lately? Drunk: Uh huh uh, nuthin, really, nuthin. Sun Ra: How long have you been doing nuthin? Drunk: Quite some time. Quite some time. Sun Ra: You must be an expert at it. Drunk: Got my B.A., ya see. Sun Ra: Well hire you to do that. Drunk: How much I get paid, man? Sun Ra: Nuthin. Drunk: Nuthin? NUTHIN? I got to have sumthin so I can get me anotha botty. I cant go for that shit! still.we are the dreamers of the dreams