Thinking About Legacy

The other day I watched an interview, on the Web, from a music conference of my favorite composer/musician.  Jean-Michel Jarre was asked why he decided to include whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s image and voice on his latest album and in concert appearances.  Jarre answered, basically, that the decision came from strongly held, personal values, that were instilled during his childhood.

Jean-Michel Jarre is regarded highly by a subset of fans like me, in the United States, and is revered as a major superstar in Europe and much of the rest of the world. His breathtaking concerts have set world attendence records over and over.

It might be argued that Jarre’s music came from his father.  Jean-Michel’s father, was the world famous pianist, Maurice Jarre. Although the father left home when the son was very young, his musical influence remained.Legacy-01FrancePejot-JMJarresMother

The real guiding light in Jean-Michel’s life was his mother, France Pejot.  His mother brought the youngster to various upscale nightclubs and musical venues when he met such luminaries as Archie Shepp and John Coltrane. In addition, Jarre’s moral compass was set by France Pejot’s legacy.

Pejot joined the French Resistance in 1941, when most people considered the loose-knit group merely as an annoying band of trouble-makers. Pejot joined the resistance because she agreed strongly that the powers-that-be were speaking and acting against the interests of France. Pejot paid dearly for her rebellious actions. She was captured by the Nazis and interred in a concentration camp as a political dissident.

It is this background that must be remembered when we consider how the young Jean-Michel was raised. In his own words, his mother felt that “When the powers that are in place generate and promote ideas and actions that are contrary to human rights or do things that could harm humanity, some of us have to stand up against it.”

Legacy-02JMJarreESnowdenSo, to answer the question regarding his collaboration with Edward Snowden, Jarre said “‘Whistle-blowers’ do this from within.” Jarre’s intention of including Snowden on a track of his album is to promote the idea of questioning the “powers that are in place”…”not to harm it, but to improve it.”

In his controversial statement of support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Jarre said, “Each time the governments or the governors are forgetting the fact that they should serve the governed, in other words, we are to support these people {whistle-blowers}.”  Today we need people who can bring truth to the citizens of the world. “…We need to question the powers, in place.”

After I finished listening to the Web interview, I thought about how Jean-Michel Jarre has built upon his parents’ legacies.  Not only is he a musical megastar and a grandfather of ambient and electronic musical composition; he is an outspoken advocate for human rights. Jarre has built a multifaceted legacy. He is a personification of an old maxim that has inspired people ever since the Middle Ages.


Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Newton was referencing John of Salisbury, who wrote, “…we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature.”

Jarre was the recipient of the legacies of his famous, musical father, and of his French Resistance mother. He also tapped into the legacies of great musicians and visual artists who preceded him. While standing on the shoulders of these giants, Jarre has, himself, become a giant.

Hence, a person’s legacy is very important. A legacy can be constructive or destructive.  I sometimes ask myself whose legacy am I building on? Am I just coasting mindlessly along, going with the status quo? Will I have a positive, constructive legacy?  Can a person build a positive legacy on purpose?

I get a clue when asking myself, “Who do I look up to?”

moi1988bThe Blue Jay of Happiness contemplates something that former President George H.W. Bush once said. “The day will come – and it is not far off – when the legacy of Lincoln will finally be fulfilled at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, when a black man or woman will sit in the Oval Office. When that day comes, the most remarkable thing about it will be how naturally it occurs.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, Controversy, cultural highlights, History, Meanderings, music, Politics, Youth and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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