Gruff Rhys has today released a new song to celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS, ‘No Profit In Pain’ was specially commissioned by National Theatre Wales as part of its NHS 70 Festival of NHS-themed productions.
He says, ‘My song for the NHS is a reminder to fight privatisation tooth and nail. With ‘No Profit In Pain’, I want to remind the nation that we can no longer take a free health service for granted.’ Watch the video here.
To promote the song’s message, he has hired and decorated a van for a debut performance of the song outside Cardiff castle. “I went for a repurposed bog-standard Home Office-style “Go Home” scare vehicle. Designer Mark James shot a video yesterday as we plastered the lyrics up and he went off and edited it immediately afterwards.”
“We’ve only got it for two days, I’m using it for my performance today and designer and profound thinker, Mark James shot the video yesterday as we decorated it, ready for today’s release. Kliph Scurlock plays the drums and Llion Robertson produced it. All proceeds will go to NHS charities in Wales.”
He told the Guardian:
“A lot of my songs deal in lyrical abstraction, but as the NHS has had such a profound effect on every aspect of my life since birth, this was a commission that I felt duty-bound to throw myself into. The title, ‘No Profit In Pain’, is an attempt to counter the mentality of platitudes like “no pain no gain” and “tough love” that are peddled by zealous free-marketeers.
The NHS is something that we can too easily take for granted. I’ve twice toured with musicians in America when they’ve had broken limbs and not been able to afford treatment. Each time, they had to continue touring in pain in cramped vans, using homemade splints and slings. It’s a precarious way to live if you don’t have insurance.
The NHS has been there for me throughout my life and has saved many of my family members’ lives. It means more than anything I could ever hope to convey in a melodramatic synth-pop power ballad. For the song (recorded with Kliph Scurlock on drums and Llion Robertson producing), I focused on the battle to keep the NHS as a free service in public ownership. There’s loads of swearing in it. Privatisation is creeping in and it will be a death knell for the NHS if we are not vigilant. As a devolved issue in Wales, and as an idea that was born here, the idea of a free health service for all serves as a beacon of what we can achieve as a nation and is something we must pass on intact to future generations.
I namecheck a trio of Welsh healthcare pioneers in the song – Aneurin Bevan, William Price and Betsi Cadwaladr – but I’m just scratching the surface. I can’t ever hope to contribute to society what NHS staff do on a daily basis. But I do write songs, and while I don’t expect it to be to everybody’s taste, this is my heartfelt if feeble attempt to pay them some respect.”
‘No Profit In Pain’ is out today, on the anniversary of the NHS. All proceeds from streaming and download sales will go to NHS charities in Wales. It does not appear on Gruff Rhys’ latest LP, Babelsberg.
Buy here: http://bit.ly/NoProfitInPain