“Ronald Reagan, Mao Zedong — they’re all the same. Kissinger…let me explain,” sings Santigold on her newest track. And you’re pretty sure this is a departure from the funky Philadelphia rhymers typical work.
You’d be right. Santigold is just one of the femme fatales that David Byrne has roped in for his latest, grandest project — what he’s called the “disco opera” of the life of famous shoe-hoarder and Studio 54 regular Imelda Marcos, who also happened to be the former First Lady of the Philippines. It’s called Here Lies Love, and it’s structured as a musical biography of the relationship between Marcos and Estrella Cumpas, the woman’s long-suffering, doting nanny / maid / personal caregiver.
(Read our full wrap-up of everything you’re dying to know about Here Lies Love.)
Sounds … juicy? The opera’s first video dropped today. And though we have to admit, we prefer “L.E.S. Artistes,” it sounds good. Our favorite part: As Byrne told bloggers, “Every word of the song is true!” Watch the video of Santigold’s track:
But it’s not just true, Byrne explained his research was much deeper:
“Most of the lyrics on this one are lifted gently from interviews and quotations — the “please don’t” chorus especially. At some point as first lady, Imelda began to feel that she could help Philippine interests by charming world leaders into seeing things her way. “Handbag diplomacy” she called it — as she liked to imply that to solve a problem, she could bypass President Marcos and just grab a handbag and hop on a plane with some of her assistants. It sometimes worked! There was, for example, an Islamic-backed insurgency rising in the south of the Philippine archipelago, and she thought that a leader in that part of the world, Qaddafi in this case, might help pull the plug on that support if he saw things her way. Apparently he did — the funding stopped and the insurrection lost momentum, and she later described him as a pushover, a mama’s boy.”
Photo Credit: MySpace (L), Pierce Mattie / The Imelda Collection