Hubert von Goisern: Open letter to John Otti Band and Norbert Hofer's campaign team
On 4th December 2016 Austria goes to the polls to vote for their new Federal President. Independent candidate, supported by the Greens, Alexander Van der Bellen faces FPÖ candidate Norbert Hofer. Though Hubert von Goisern has made public his support for Alexander Van der Bellen, campaign events for the FPÖ continue to use and perform his music against his express wishes.
Dear Mr Otti and the Norbert Hofer campaign team,
In recent times I have been repeatedly asked why my songs - performed by the John Otti Band for example - can be heard at campaign events in support of Norbert Hofer, even though I am an avowed supporter of Van der Bellen. Much to my displeasure, the press has also addressed this subject. I have after all always very clearly and publicly opposed the simplistic, reactionary thinking of the Freedom Party's spokesmen and their inflammatory language.
Since I do not share the diehard manner and xenophobic views of Hofer's politics, I ask that you and all other Hofer campaigners refrain from further use of my music.
I stand for an open, tolerant and solidary society, for the reduction of fear of the unknown and new, and not for shit-stirring.
I stand for looking changes in the eye and looking forward, not for the attempt to stop time, or to even turn it back. That is what my music and my lyrics are about and I do not find these thoughts to be echoed by Mr Hofer.
Hubert von Goisern
Music for those free of thought
It's what happens when listening is replaced by just swaying to the music. So it came to be that Hubert von Goisern wrote a letter. In it he asked the FPÖ to do without his music at their rallies. It's curious, because it is fundamentally surprising that the Goiserer's music is used there. Because: the Goiserer and the FPÖ don't go together ideologically at all. It should have been easy for an FPÖ rally commissioner to see that. You need just a few beats to think about what this music means, what's behind it, whether it's made for more than just good cheer in a beer tent. In the Goiserer's case, it always is. Example? Iawaramoi from 1994. In the Goiserer's case behind it lies a desire for the unknown, for change. The fact that he considers himself to be in the wrong place with the FPÖ with such an attitude is understandable. Or to put it another way: if I book a funeral chapel for a wedding, there's something basic I've not grasped. Or: one time when Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA was used as a patriotic anthem in an US Presidential election, it became clear: nobody had listened to the song properly, as it's actually about a hard reckoning with the country. But it's not the content that counts, but rather the slogan, the title. Proper listening evidently stops when we're talking about hits. The letter from the Goiserer can be read as more than a skirmish in the war against small-minded brevity. A sad state of affairs becomes apparent: nobody listens to exactly what someone else saying. Instead the thoughtful is swayed away by entertainment party charlatans free of thought. But there is music, which must include that of the Goiserer, which is not simply a distraction manoeuvre to increase consumerism or the desire for choice. Such music is not distinguished by superficial sound, but by what this sound transports. That is why important music, which has grown out of profundity and tact, has no place in an election campaign.
Postcript: The John Otti Band, who played the Goiserer hit Brenna tuats guat at their appearances for the FPÖ, has removed the song from their repertoire "with immediate effect of course".