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THE SCOOP | GRAMMY Award-Winning David Clayton-Thomas' Anti-Gun Anthem Censored By Facebook For Being 'Political'

By Anya Wassenberg on August 27, 2019

David Clayton-Thomas
Blood Sweat & Tears front man David Clayton-Thomas’ song about gun violence labelled too political for Facebook. (Photo courtesy of Paquin artist agency)

Can music change minds? And is an anti-gun protest a political statement? These are the central questions at the heart of a controversy surrounding a new song by iconic Canadian artist David Clayton-Thomas.

According to a media release, Never Again — an anti-gun violence song dedicated to the students of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — has been turned down for ad coverage by social media giant Facebook on the grounds of being “political”.

GRAMMY award-winning singer, songwriter, and musician, David Clayton-Thomas is best known for his seminal work with the band Blood, Sweat & Tears, and hits like Spinning Wheel that combined elements of jazz, blues, and rock. Never Again doesn’t pull any punches with its plain-spoken lyrics.

Another bloody day in America,

Another mass shooting in the news…

The video features a pastiche of images from the — sadly — many mass shootings on US soil, including several from the Parkland massacre and the recent El Paso shootings, along with various anti-gun protests, marching militaristic groups, and the like, over Clayton-Thomas characteristic brand of bluesy rock. Clayton-Thomas’ attempts to boost the song with a Facebook ad were rejected by the social media platform. It’s not clear what images were involved in the proposed ad.

Never Again comes from his forthcoming album, “Say Somethin’”, and while the CD isn’t set for release until early 2020 via Linus Records, he felt the single’s message was important enough to get out early.

“Given the current climate of gun violence in America, I felt this song should be heard now,” the singer says in the release. “This song is dedicated to the kids of Parkland and the March For Our Lives movement.”

Using music to tackle social issues is nothing new for Clayton-Thomas. The singer has been in the news again recently with the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, where Blood, Sweat & Tears took the stage along Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and other legends of the classic rock era. The mood of the moment, he recounted in an interview, was hopeful for change.

“We came to change the whole world with a song and we really believed that. And we did at least for a minute.”  Back then, as he reminded a reporter for CityNews Toronto, the emphasis was on Vietnam and the anti-war movement. “It was at the height of the Vietnam War and people had enough of dozens of kids a week coming home in body bags. They were angry.”

In the present, it’s violence on home turf that he’s concerned with. “The gun violence in the states is an epidemic. It’s horrendous.”

He told CityNews that the reaction to Never Again was immediate, with hundreds of responses recorded within just a few hours. “It obviously struck a nerve and so it should. What’s going on right now is just a horror show. It’s unbelievable what is going on.”

Despite the social media setback, Clayton-Thomas is firm in the belief that music can create social change, and he thinks the past may hold lessons on how to amplify the message.

“In this current political climate we’re due for another Woodstock — and we may see something.”

LUDWIG VAN TORONTO

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Anya Wassenberg

Anya Wassenberg is a Senior Writer and Digital Content Editor at Ludwig Van. She is an experienced freelance writer, blogger and writing instructor with OntarioLearn.
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Follow me

Anya Wassenberg

Anya Wassenberg is a Senior Writer and Digital Content Editor at Ludwig Van. She is an experienced freelance writer, blogger and writing instructor with OntarioLearn.
Follow me
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By Joseph So on September 21, 2019

After a summer of slim pickings regarding opera in the GTA, the lyric season is once again upon us. As a starter, the COC is introducing its new edition of the Ensemble Studio in a noon hour concert at the opera house. In its nearly forty-year history, the Ensemble Studio has nurtured many a Canadian talent, with many going on to significant careers.
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LEBRECHT LISTENS | Gabriela Montero Is A Life-Affirmer

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