A Fireside Chat with Sonny Rollins (2001)
What I'm not so sure about is whether mankind will be able to find ways to resist things like greed and selfishness. These are things which are within everybody. Every groups has these traits. It is basically a spiritual problem and this is what we have to work on. We have to get together and find some way to protect our planet and be better people and get rid of bloodlust and the greed. That's what we have to concern ourselves with. Musically, no, I have no, I'm sure there will always be great people coming up playing music.
Music is a gift to mankind like pets and animals. If you don't like pets and animals, maybe you don't think they are gifts, but if you like flowers, if you like the forest and the beautiful trees. That's the kind of thing music is. As long as we have somewhere to enjoy these things, yeah, these things will be there.
FJ: Having been the social conscious for jazz, is it disheartening that the current generation revels in a bling-bling mentality?
SR: Well, I believe that technology, there is one thing that is bad about technology, if I can borrow a phrase from a great writer, he made a statement which rang true to me. He said, “Technology enables man to go backwards faster.” I think that's true.
It's not so much that the rappers and these people that live ostentatiously are any different than the people that lived in Eighteenth Century or Sixteenth Century, it is that we have developed technology now. We have developed the technology, which makes it easier to have lots of automobiles and to have lots of homes, which be the way are destructive to our natural environment. As you know, Fred, automobiles, they destroy the ozone layer. They cause pollution and a whole myriad of things, which flow from driving automobiles. I don't have to tell you that. Everybody knows that. Basically, it is not a good thing to do.
Sure, we have to do it. We have to drive, but we have to try to realize that we should try to keep it to a minimum and that we should think more about the planet and what we'll be leaving for our children. Sure these guys are big movie stars. It's like the other day, today, my wife was showing me something in the paper about this actor, Alec Baldwin. He's an actor and he lives on the East Coast and he's supposed to be a very, so called liberal and he drives an SUV. This tells you that he's not so enlightened. He got into a road rage situation with someone else on the road and it mentioned that he was driving an SUV.
Now a person of his... who is supposed to support all these so called Democrat and liberal and environmental causes, to see a person like that driving an SUV shows you what's wrong with society. SUVs are one of the most harmful automobiles that we can ever have. They're very bad. They burn a lot of gas, fossil fuels. It's just, it just shows how ignorant people are and how much they're effected by television commercials and all this.
There is just a lack of awareness, to get back to your basic question, Fred. There will be many musical innovations if we people get our act together and that we realize that everything isn't here for us to use and abuse. There's a limit to how much garbage we can dump in the ocean. There's a limit to how much fossil fuel we can burn with our wonderful SUVs riding around the shopping mall. So we have to think about what we're doing.
These are basic, basic things that, unfortunately, not enough people think about. I think about these things. Since you mentioned my social conscious, yeah, I think about these things and I'm glad I do because I don't want to be one of these people that goes into the gas chamber smiling and laughing. If I go into the gas chamber of life after the neutron bomb or the hydrogen bomb or whatever, I want to know.
I have a feeling about the meaning of life and things beyond this particular world. So I want to know what's happening. I'm happy that I had this social conscious as you put it, Fred, so I know what's going on. No, it is awful, terrible, some of these things, but I'd rather know about them than not know about them.
FJ: There is a growing segment of society that believes global warming is a he cried wolf phenomenon.
SR: It is not frustrating to me. I'll tell you why, Fred. I'm not interested in the results of what happened. I just want to know and understand what's going on. As far as partisan politics and what the Republicans think and what Dick Chaney thinks and what Hillary Clinton does, all that stuff is way down on the totem pole.