Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Rise Up" - The Parachute Club


The funky, joyful "Rise Up," by the Toronto band The Parachute Club, is a little-known early-eighties gem ripe for a revival. As a pro-peace, pro-feminist, pro-LGBT anthem, it's hard to beat -- one of those songs that welcomes everyone to the party. At heart, it's a general hymn to diversity and the power of solidarity, easily adaptable to diverse progressive circumstances:

(Rise up rise up)
Oh rise and share your power
(Rise up rise up)
Were dancing into the sun
(Rise up rise up)
It's time for celebration
(Rise up rise up)
Spirit's time has come

We want lovin' we want laughter again
We want heartbeat
We want madness to end
We want dancin'
We want to run in the streets
We want freedom to live in this peace
We want power
We want to make it ok
Want to be singin' at the end of the day
Children to breathe a new life
We want freedom to love who we please

A recent photo of Lorraine Segato, lead
singer of The Parachute Club

Talkin' 'bout the right time to be workin' for peace
Wantin' all the tension in the world to ease
This tightrope's gotta learn how to bend
We're makin' new plans
Gonna start it again

(Rise up rise up)
Oh rise and share your power
(Rise up rise up)
Were dancing into the sun
(Rise up rise up)
It's time for celebration
(Rise up rise up)
Spirit's time has come

For Canadian progressives, "Rise Up" has additional and somewhat melancholy connotations. It was the favorite song of Jack Layton, late leader of the center-left New Democratic Party, one of Canada's most (read: only) respected and beloved politicians. Layton used it as his campaign song, as well as at his wedding to Toronto NDP member of Parliament Olivia Chow. And it was the song that Parachute Club singer Lorraine Segato performed at his state funeral in Toronto in October 2011.

Here's the original version of "Rise Up," from Parachute Club (1983):


The video for "Rise Up," filmed on Toronto streets:


Other Resources

Thanks to my friend Catherine Novak for suggesting this song.

Available on The Parachute Club's self-titled album (1983), which appears to be out of print, and on Wild Zone: The Essential Parachute Club (2006), track 1.













Wikipedia page for "Rise Up."

Here's the disco remix of "Rise Up":


The Parachute Club performing the song to close the Toronto Pride concert (2008):


In 1999, McCain somehow secured rights to use "Rise Up" in (gasp) a pizza commercial. Here's an entertaining account of how Lorraine Segato then kicked ass. In it, Segato describes the song as "about sexual diversity and sexual equality." "'Rise Up', she explains, grew out of Toronto's multiracial gay and lesbian community of the early '80s. In a time of bathhouse raids and emerging fears about a new, deadly, sexually transmitted disease, Queen Street West formed the nexus of the hip gay music scene. Parachute Club opened the Bamboo Club across the street from the new MuchMusic and the band's poppy tune quickly became an anthem for the gay community, often identified with coming out of the closet. Its catchy hook, however, would also make it an anthem for political groups unaware that the rousing refrain was not a call to arms, but rather, well, a call to arms. As the song goes, 'We want freedom, to love who we please'. Ms. Segato has heard Rise Up played at Liberal party conventions, at marches to protest Chinese human-rights abuses, abortion rallies, and even on Christian radio stations in Europe."

1 comment:

  1. awesome I put-off buying this for months, despite positive reviews.

    ReplyDelete

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