Manu Chao is one of the most influential and politically active musicians in the world today. He's a modern day Woody Guthrie for people throughout the world. Chao is long overdue for another original album (it's been five years since La Radiolina) His CDs (especially the landmark Proxima Estacion: Esperanza and his producing work for Amadou & Mariam) are signal works that continue to inspire others. But he's too busy circling the globe and shining a light on causes he believes in.
The latest is the human rights and migrant issues raised by the laws of Arizona (specifically Senate Bill 1070) and the tent cities created to house all the prisoners those laws have created. Chao traveled to Arizona at the invitation of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. The tent cities are outdoor prisons where inmates must endure the extremes of heat and cold in the desert along with other indignities rather than being housed indoors.
Chao is very much a citizen of the world. His Spanish parents fled Franco's Spain (where his grandfather was sentenced to die) and moved to Paris where Chao was raised. He sings in French, Spanish, English, Italian, Galician, and Portuguese, among other tongues. Here he is performing "Clandestino" outside the tent city prison. You can find out more information about this issue at AltoArizona.com.
Whatever your stance on immigration and how best to regulate it, Chao's artistry is undeniable. Here's the video.