Interview with Sun Ra, (date)

Conducted by Jennifer Rycenga, in San Francisco. Transcribed and edited by Dan Plonsey.

Sun Ra: I think of myself as a complete mystery. To myself.Jennifer Rycenga: And you do what has to be --
Sun Ra: No I probably do what I'm controlled to do. Something --
J: -- Who's doing the controlling?
Sun Ra: -- made all this: some Impossibility without a name. That's what the world is controlled by: an Impossibility. It's controlled by someone they call "God" who never had a beginning and naturally had no end. And in a sense He doesn't exist, because of the standards of reality, because everybody knows something can't just happen -- but if there is a God, that's what happened; just happened to be, and without ever having not been -- they got to face that. So you go over into what you might call a myth. A myth to Himself. Has to be, 'cause something happened. And something happened where a being just happened to be and then He [was] all alone -- nobody else. Just Him. And in that case, he would cause something else to be. Out of nowhere. Named the "people." And then He's been trying to find out if there's anybody else -- in the vast universe. And then He would take these people and they'd help him look -- something else: another God, another being who just happened to be. It would have to be like that: it's beyond reality. But He'd be all alone; He'd make people, the people'd [inaudible], if they could reach a stage of doing the same thing He did: just happpen to be. And of course it's scattered all around. The Bible does say that man became a living soul. So that means he wasn't created: he just happened -- just happened to be. But they don't never read the book, 'cause they think the Bible is just fairy tales, myths, and all that. But it doesn't make any difference to this creator, He could take a myth and make a reality -- whatever they said. [inaudible] And they got the book that tells me that. They got somebody called Jesus said every jot and tittle of the book would happen. That means that people are living a predestined thing: they going by the book. And the book: got what seem to be a lot of contradictions in it. So then you got a contradictory planet. You got a contradictory people, because they going by the book. And that the book is verified and put in the right order -- see, it's like a jigsaw puzzle, if it was put in the right order, overnight people would change, to go by the book. But nobody's been able to put the book in order -- like a jigsaw puzzle. And then if you put the book -- if you take the jigsaw puzzle and put it together and it's backwards, you still won't see the picture. Now, that's what's happened: a lot people put something together, but they never turned it over and looked at the other side. And they got to look at the other side -- of the jigsaw puzzle. Some people did very good putting some things together, but they never turned it over; they didn't invert it. Now they have to face facts: according to the Bible, it said the disciples turned the world upside down. Now I did see that, but for some reason, I never heard anybody quote that passage. It does say it. They turned the world upside down. Now they turned the world upside down, they inverted values. Now they all were ignorant men; they didn't know what they were doing, but they were told that they were going to be made fishers of men. Took the fishermen, and only fishermen, seemingly -- they follow, they know nothing but they saw what he was doing, and then he told them all, "I will make you fishers of men." Now when you fish, you go out there, and use some bait, and use some nets, and you catch some fish. Catch a whole load of fish. And that's what happened with people. They're like the fish in the sea, you see. And the fish seem to be very free on the ocean, but then somebody comes along with a net, catches some fish, and the symbol for the net is "X." Because if you take ten and you turn it backwards it's net. So this "X" is used to catch people. And you got churches all over the world, over there, jumping over into the "X." They jump into the net that somebody's fishing. Now, the disciples, they didn't know, they didn't know what they were doing. And they were chosen for that purpose: not to know what they were doing. But to put something out there in the world that would serve as a net to catch some people. Put them all there -- just lump 'em all together in the net -- and that's what's happening. So you've got a lot of folks over in the net. But the net is Christ -- is "X," and "X" means a lot of things: it means "unknown."
J: Um-hm.
Sun Ra: "X" means "unknown," but "X" means Christ; you can prove it by the word "Christmas." I'm dealing with equations, you see. I went to school on this planet, and I ran off from Alabama, a discriminating state, supposedly the worst in America, after Reverend King went down there -- but there was some folks that sent him down there because the South is still an empire. It's not part of the United States really. And it never did give up, because they still got the Confederate flag. Now -- and they still got that flag up -- when a nation is defeated, they take their flag down. Confederate flag is still the flag of Alabama, so Alabama's the center and the capital of the Confederacy. And Reverend King, probably he didn't realize -- he went there to try to break it in Alabama, but the symbol for the flag in Alabama is "X." So you got the flag with the "X" on it, you got the stars on there, and the South is still a separate part from the United States. And they think differently. And this empire, the empire of the South, they had so much power, they were hurting the North financially, because they had people working free for them, and the North had to pay people, and so therefore they were running rings around the North, their businessmen. And that's what happened. That's when they had the war, because they wanted to break the power of the South, who had more like an aristocracy throughout their society.
J: Sure.
Sun Ra: Which you can see it in Gone with the Wind what they had. Mansions. They had money, money, money. And England, the rest of the world would deal with the South for their cotton. And they didn't really have an allegiance as far as this government is concerned, and so the war was fought not to free black people; it was fought to try to break the financial power of the South. And that's what happened: they broke it.
J: So. . .
Sun Ra: But it's still like that in the center.
J: Is your music one of the ways of turning that puzzle over?
Sun Ra: Yes. It's the answer to everything. Because this Being I'm dealing with sent me here -- to change it. And that's a total impossibility. The problem about it -- I sought to play the low profile, 'cause I'm not a minister, and I'm not a politician; I'm a scholar, and I found out a thing that scholars don't like to be out there in the public eyesight. They don't have to be, because they [inaudible] to search and find out some more things. And the next thing I know I was searching, looking for some answers. I found the answers, but I had to deal with the Bible, because they say it's in code. I'm making high marks in college -- all the way through, I made it; and I wanted to know why all these thousands of years did not one scholar, not one intellectual could break the code in the Bible. I couldn't understand: why you got a book and all these folks with brains, inventing [inaudible] and they can't break the code. So I decided to take my energies and break the code in the book; see what it really meant. And I did. But then I had to study [coughs] I had to study the literature of all nations, particularly Russia, France, England, to read that literature, that fiction, and their philosophy; I had to study everything by myself, without a teacher, because I was being led to do it. And therefore, I know about all the nations, what they represent, what their traditions [are], and I know which way they headed, I know their past, their present, and their future. So I'm like a bird that's sitting up there looking, gets a bird-eye view of all of humanity, and when I go to each country, I can feel everything about them. I got my eyes closed, and I know what's happening. In this country, when I go from state to state, I feel when I cross the border, because I'm very sensitive, and I can tell, when we going somewhere, from state to state, everything changes: we crossed the border. Now that's great sensitivity, you see, and every person I come to, I can feel what they are, I can feel what is going to happen to them, I can see everything. Just like what they call God sees, I can see with his eyes. Every person's just like a television set, and you can see any time He wants to see you. Just take a person over any time you want to talk to somebody, take a person over, and he talks. And they be talking to God, face-to-face, quite often, and don't know it. And they think the person is talking. But they haven't been able to distinguish between the person talking, and between something that's using them. And therefore, you could be talking to a little child, and a little child says something and you might think it's that little child. A total impossibility, [but the] proof of that is that one time in Chicago, a truck got stuck under a bridge, and they were scared to move because they'd tear the bridge down, and it was a sub-teenager there, he kept telling them, "I know how to solve the problem." They sent for the firemen, got the police, the engineers, they sent to colleges, all was there trying to figure out how to move that truck without harming the bridge. This little boy was still saying, "I know how to do it." They were saying, "Get away from me boy, let the men handle it." Nighttime came almost. They finally asked him, "What do you say?" He said, "Take the air out of the tires." Yeah. All the intellectuals. And that's the way the world is: all these folks with brains, and they got to admit, they can't solve the problem. It's just like that little boy -- I mean they need a little boy. My idea, you see, if I put something together -- they want a better world. Nobody's coming along with a blueprint to make a better world; with all their intelligence, they can't do it, and they got some remarkable brain people, philosophers, but they be talking against the world, but they never brought a blueprint. The Creator [inaudible] "You want a better world, put the blueprint down, I'll make it for you." You have to have the blueprint. But they never [do]. Some people say, "well, all the bad people; they going to hell; it will be a better world." But this Creator is not like that. He don't care nothing about righteousness, and that's where people make a mistake. A person that troubles to do the righteous thing; they in trouble. Because he doesn't understand that. He doesn't understand righteousness. He be trying them out to see what makes them righteous, and the next thing you know, they be dead because they can't prove that they righteous; because they'd be saying things, and this Creator, when He says something, well, that's it; He'll do it all right; but when people say things, when they're put on the test, they deviate.
J: You said music is a kind of talking to the Creator.
Sun Ra: Oh, it's the only way possible. Music is a faster vibration than talking, you see. It moves fast. And it has more power than the voice. It [aside to Buster] Buster, what are you going to do now?
Buster: I'm going; I gotta go get some juice and some medicine.
Sun Ra: Look under the bus? Look under the bus.
Buster: I'm going to look under. . .
Sun Ra: Okay.
Buster: Yeah, 'cause all the bags are underneath.
Sun Ra: Right, that's the first mistake.
Buster: There's an envelope in that bag.
Sun Ra: Okay. Yes.
Buster: Okay?
Sun Ra: So, now it comes down to tell the world, well, they don't really have no proof there's a God. That's what the problem is. First they have to have equational proof that there is a God, or something that could take that name. Not that it's God, if you go all the way back to ancient Egypt, the Sun priest is [who] would teach the Sun medicine in Egypt -- that's not being taught today, because they had civilization for five thousand years; America's just four hundred years old, and it's shakin' and quiverin' -- they had a civilization -- the oldest known civilization: ancient Egypt: five thousand years of precise, orderly government. So the world got to go back and see: what were they doing? What were they doing to have five thousand years of precise government, education; and the whole world, it revolves around Egypt, really, although they talk about it, but without Egypt, you wouldn't have no alphabets, you wouldn't have anything. You wouldn't have no religion either, because they were the ones talking about immortality. The rest of religions were not talking about people being again, they had that idea, that it could happen, and they set up pyramids and everything, they buried the dead with the idea that they would come back. And it's all symbolic -- everything is symbolic; nothing is real. Something placed it all here, waiting for people to wake up. Waiting for them to wake up and do something. But they haven't. They have to do it themselves; It's not going to help them. So It gives them atomic bomb; see what they going to do. It's like a person goes out and buys some toys for her children, and that's what the Creator [does]: He give them some toys. In Belgium, every time I go there -- it's the only country that's doing this -- women be there from all over the world; they don't get no publicity, and they be marching down the street, thousands of them, and they be singing, "Take the toys from the boys." Now, that doesn't get in America. I haven't seen any pictures of them doing that, and they do it quite often; maybe every month, and they be marching, all the women, from different countries together, shouting, "Take the toys from the boys." And they talking about them guns that the military got. So they never get any publicity, but I've seen it quite often. Now, so it comes down to these toys they got. Somebody making the toys obsolete, because you don't need guns to kill people anymore; a thimbleful of this new gas that they got could waste half of San Francisco, all of it. That's a lot of power. So then if America was attacked, a thimbleful of [inaudible] this new stuff they got, could decimate practically every city in America; they got no protection. None whatsoever. But they could get ready. They could do what Buckminster Fuller said and make them some domes. That would protect them. They could be up under these domes, these geodesic domes. But of course they're still making their square houses and things. They wouldn't listen to him, and he said, "America's a spaceship." I say so too. Now, they intelligent, but dumb at the same time. Now they come to the place where they got to prove: there is a God, or there isn't. And if there is no God; they have to be God, so you still got a God. You you got to have a head. You can't have a body without a head. And they do say Christ is the head of the church. But the head is nailed on the cross, right; nailed down. So now, that's an equation. They got to deal with equations, but they got to know now, people all over the planet got to know they got to know about a God. And they have to have some kind of proof. You got to have some proof there is a God. And I got the proof: everything bad happened on this planet is caused by God. So there's your proof: you got little children that's starving: that's the work of God. You got tornadoes and typhoons: that's the work of God. So he demonstrates He does exist through evil, not good. So with all these evils upon the planet, they got the book that said, got Christ saying, (who's supposedly the word of God, and the word of God is walking, and saying), "I work and my father works." And the word of God is saying, "The works of the world are evil." So Christ did some evil thing. As a lot of books of the bible said, "In the kingdom of Christ there shall be evil and fill up the days." I'm dealing with equations I'm a cosmo-scientist. "In the kingdom of Christ there shall be evil and fill the days." And this is the kingdom of Christ because Christ in numerology is number five, and in Washington D.C. it's all based around number five: the pentagon. So I'm dealing with equations that seemingly people don't know. I went to Washington, and I was walking by the Potomac, and then all at once this picture came into my mind, saying you know, in the United States, every state touches three or four states that surround it. Washington D.C. is called a district, and it only touches two states. And the capital of the United States was moved from Philadelphia, to New York, and to Washington D.C. The purpose was establishing a spiritual kingdom. So now [clears throat] so they took [clears throat] Virginia and Maryland; they took Washington D.C. and put it in the midst of Virginia and Maryland for a spiritual purpose they put the pentagon -- they still there -- and then Virginia means "land of the virgin." Like California means "land of the caliph." Louisiana: "land of Louis." Georgia: "land of George." So that "ia" on there means "land." So when they say Virginia, that's "virgin." Now when they say Maryland, that's the "land of Mary," so then Washington D.C. is in the midst of Virgin Mary. Now, they put it there, and then you got the pentagon, and penta is Christ's number, so you got Christ in the midst of Virgin Mary, still unborn. Well, enclosed in there. Now you got that; now who set that up? Man didn't; the whole thing is set up, and then they went and based it on liberty and the book is very dangerous, they based it on liberty, and men will look for liberty, but every time people talk about liberty, a lot of them die. All over the planet, you got different ones of people talking about liberty, and they getting killed, too. You've got it in Palestine, you've got it in Salvador, you've got everyehere where people are fighting for liberty, they die. Like in one country down in South America, the people -- all sorts of people -- they was talking about liberty and freedom, [they] put 'em in a stadium; shot 'em. In Mexico, before they had the Olympics there, some students were talking about freedom of government and everything, and the soldiers came, and took them: they disappeared. Mexico -- they came, and they came shooting. You go down there now, I played in a place where this happened, and you go there, and you can see the holes in the buildings, they died too. And Reverend Jim Jones, he took the people that looking for freedom down there and they died; they had the [inaudible] and every one of them died. And Moses come from Egypt and brought the people out of Egypt for freedom, into the wilderness, and forty years, in the wilderness, two generations: they died. And Moses died too, and was told, "You have not come into the promised land." He supposedly was from God, but he didn't make it. It's off in all the different books, and it's hard for a scholar to read all the books, but I've been directed to read books and to get the books that tell the truth. Now you got a book called, "Collision of the Worlds." And it sent -- they send their books to me, and this day, I said, "Well, why should I read that?" I thought it was fiction or something. I still don't know fully what the book is saying, but it stayed around the house for five years; I never read that book. But this force... one day I woke up, and that book was on my pillow. I said, "How'd this book get here?" Well, I reckoned I was supposed to read it, so I took the book, I was turning the pages, and saw a commentary: it had in fine letters, that Pharoah told Moses "Watch out going out into that desert, where you're going, because you're going to meet the bloody star, Ra. You're going to meet. If you go out there into that desert, you're going to meet the bloody star, Ra." Now, that -- and it didn't say any more -- well, you can get the book, -- uh -- so then there's a book called Rawlinson's Ancient History [presumably: Rawlinson, George,Ancient History. Phila: J.P. Lippencott, 1887. -- DP]. And this book says, the oldest name known for God is "Ra," and the Kushite equivalent of "El," which is another name for God, "El" means God, and then "Ra" is over there with something else. And that's what the Egyptians had: they were worshipping Ra, and they were a great kingdom they had everything, you see. And the Sun priestess, that temple was started in Heliopolis -- it's still there [but] somebody came along and destroyed [the temple]. Now in the rest of the religions -- like you got Stonehenge, [but] somebody tried to destroy completely any semblance of evidence of the temple of the Sun priest in Egypt. Now: why'd they do that? You go there, you don't even know anything been there; you don't see one stone. But you go down in Memphis, now they had down there you see a statue of Ramses there, and some ruins of the temple, but in Heliopolis, the place where all this came from, about Sun priests, and somebody tried to obliterate that off the face of the Earth. Now: All the schools on this planet have to close. All the chuches have to shut their doors. All the governments got to turn their thing over to this force which can lead the planet properly; they have to do it, or die. Now that's my message. They have to do, as told. And they have to list one person in human form to show that they have become capable of recognizing somebody in human form, as their leader, who has intelligence enough, and the authority, to get this planet out of trouble. Now if they can't do that, if they can't recognize one person in human form, the Creator's not going to recognize any of them. If they recognize one person in human form, without regards to color, or religion, as their leader to lead them, yes, and be obedient, yes, because they got a story saying that Adam and Eve -- the first man and woman, supposedly -- were not obedient. And all this is caused by two disobedient people. It doesn't matter whether it's true or not; they say it is, and this particular God, whatever you say, He uses like a musician that's got a composition improvises, He improvises on what you said; and He can take it and make it the truth. So then you got where the world's in trouble [phone rings] throughout because supposedly one woman and one man who disobeyed the voice of God, because it does say in the book that Adam and Eve heard the voice of God walking in the garden. Now have you ever seen a voice walking? They say they heard the voice walking. Now: the people got to deal with that, but they haven't dealt with that. [To telephone] Hello? Hello? Yes... [tells someone the band's schedule, arranges for them to call back later] Now what was I saying?
J: Tell me something about discipline, about how you see that.
Sun Ra: Well it's written. See, I have to go by the book. You have to have something to work by. I'm going by what they say is the word of God. Like I said, they heard the voice walking -- [the voice] of God. Now with all these scholars and everything, none of them has said, "How can you have just a voice, walking?" Now I've never seen a voice walk. But it said, they heard the voice walking in the garden. And the voice spoke to them. Now, they got to see that when they talking about this religion, that this who they call Jesus Christ, the voice spoke and said, "This is my son." It didn't say whose voice -- there you got the voice again; it's always about this voice. So now you go back to ancient Egypt. And you see that they were dealing with the voice, they were dealing with the mouth. They were dealing with the eye: the mouth as eye. Any hole is the eye, really, like Adam and Eve. And they took this symbol "Ra," which represented the mouth, it represented the eye, and people got to get back to that, and they got to see: what were the Sun priestesses teaching? One thing they was teaching: whatever you did, never desire to be like God. Because then God was a very primary, low turn of disaster. And that's what they taught. Not to ever want to be like God. And then they put it over into symbols like about that Lucifer wanted to be like God. And then things happened, really bad. And then Adam and Eve wanted to be like God, and things happened very bad. But you've got a whole world trying to be like God. Now it comes down to being that the book is true it's true, all right, and they got nothing but something bad enough humanity. Now, they have to be careful because they have to learn how to discriminate, but since you've got some people on this planet who are against discrimination, they're against the word, which means judgement. Now if you're against discrimination, that means you have no judgement; you cannot make any choices, because you in the status quo, and you stay there. Now the word "discrimination" has been made a very bad word. Now they have to not use that word in that way -- it's not right to take a word which means something nice for you, and make it be bad. Because if you take a word and make it bad, then this God, the Creator, He just say, "Oh, discrimination is bad, so I'll see that they don't discriminate." That means that they will not make choices at all; they have no judgement. Now, so we got to deal with that. And the word "liberty" is a very bad word. The word "liberty," the word "liberal." Like in this campaign, Bush is using the word "liberal" as something bad. So then Dukakis come and said, he is a liberal. Now, some folks is using that word "liberal" to defeat him. Now the question is, does Bush really know that, or is he being controlled? But the word "liberal" could make him lose the election. Some folks is using that. And then you say, "Well, what is a liberal?" So then you go to the Bible, and see what it says about liberal. It says a "liberal" is a churl. It's got it written. The liberal is a churl. So somebody used that on Dukakis, they said he is the worst possible thing that a man could be, 'cause a "churl" according to the dictionary is a "low, contemptable, scoundrel, rascal." Now, somebody -- Bush called him a "scoundrel and a rascal" maybe unknowingly, but as I said, Bush has made the word "liberal" a bad word, and he's going by the Bible. Now maybe he knows. Maybe he doesn't. But a lot of people use that book in a way to hurt people. Maybe they don't even know it. So I would say, some folks is controlling people with words. And the book does say, "Here a word, there a word, precept upon precept, line by line until they be taken and snared." Now, the book is saying that people can be snared by words. So they have to be careful about these words. Now, music is a language. Now, when I found all these things, [and] not speaking all languages, I wondered: how could I talk to the world, to tell them things? So I took everything I learned, and I put it into music, and that's what it is. And some times people will say they don't understand. But then, it's not about understanding; it's about can they feel what I'm talking about. To understand it -- well, it jumps over into a lot of different directions. So it doesn't do any good, 'cause you can interpret it any kind of way you want to. But if they feel something, and they pure at heart, then they will feel what I'm saying, and they won't be part of the Kingdom of Death, like they are now. You see, like the hippies said, "God is dead." And Nietzche said that too. He said, "Old man in the forest does not know that God is dead," so they ain't saying nothing new, you know; they studied Nietzche. But see, I studied all these things, and you see, they should say, "God is Death." Not that God is dead, but God is death. In other words, that's what He is. So when people go out and they want to be like God, they went over into his Kingdom -- of Death. Now I said that in Kansas City. Kansas City Star took my picture and put it up above the name of the newspaper and said, "Revolutionary, so to speak." They had two pages. Under one big picture of me they said something about infinity; that I'm dealing with infinity. And the first one they had, they said, "Sun Ra says that God is death." And didn't comment on it. And it's true: God is death. And it is written, well it happens, that when people have dreams or something, a vision of God, and they see him, they die. Coltrane saw God, and he died. And a friend connected with us, in Washington D.C., he told me one day, he saw God. He's dead. (I'm going by equations now, and I've heard other people say it: you see God, that's it.) And he told me about the vision he had; I said, well, they say that man cannot see God and live, so maybe you should prepare to die. Because he said he saw God: he was buck naked, God was sitting on his throne, gold robe, and gold things all around shining, and he walked toward God; God said, "Get back! Stand back!" And he asked me what that means, I said, "well, it could mean that He rejected you; it could mean that He was trying to protect you, not to approach Him, 'cause you'd die. But you're in trouble. The best thing is prepare to die." And in three months, he was dead. Now, I'm dealing with equations; I'm not dealing with what I think, because the big -- I call it omniverse [knocking at door: 2 long, 3 short; door squeaks open] -- it's impossible to know everything, but you can feel everything. Definitely. [phone rings, and someone answers ] You can feel the whole universe, and your feeling's quite vast. The mind can't do that. It just be one track. But the feelings can go on all tracks at the same time. Now when you're dealing with feeling, you can feel what is real for you. That's what I'm doing; I'm going by feeling. [To phone ] Hello? Yes... yeah... yes... well, I tell you, this is a vast organization, and it touches up against the real ruler of the planet. We have to see -- to talk to you to see things and talk to other people who are connected, because this isn't just where this is. This band was established like other bands, it was backed up by some people who were unselfish, and some people who felt that what I was trying to do in music was being hampered by commercial folks and other people who said it was too far out, and about twelve people got together, some musicians and others, one of them is a rabbi, he's a black hebrew, he's in Israel now -- and they put up the money, and they established us a record company, Saturn, so that I would be heard regardless of commercial folks. They did that. So then the foundation of it was for to get this music out there to people, and they put these records out, they put the money in it; they didn't ask for no money; it's the most unselfish organization ever been on this planet. They didn't ask for no money. They said this music should be heard by people. So because this... [unrecorded voice on phone] Well, we'll talk about it today, but you'll have to meet these people who are scattered in Israel, in Egypt, in Germany, in Japan, millions and millions of people are part of what I'm doing. Although in a sense they don't realize it, but they are. If they had a touch of what I'm talking about, they never would be happy. If a planet where you got destruction and death, something has touched them where they can see; this does not have to be. Now I never tried to reach them like sending newsletters, but they're asking me to. A lot of them are teenagers, sub-teenagers; and it's very vast, it's out beyond my control at this point. I'm just -- I'm a scholar, see; a scholar can be by themselves and have such a nice time, but in that case, it's not going to be like that, I have to be talking to people, but they will be changed, and everything they think is right, that will be nullified, and that's kind of hard: to come to a planet and nullify everything, but everything has to be nullified for them, or else they're going to die. Now, that is very vast, and I'm listening to the voice of a Creator which I've never seen, but He's been my guide, you know, to say what to say, what to do, and that makes it's a total mystery. It is a mystery to talk about A Mystery. And that's what the Creator is: A Mystery. Such a big mystery until you cannot find Him in history; you find in mythology. He... [unrecorded voice on phone] Uh-huh, mine is -- my arrival date is that too, and... [unrecorded voice on phone] Well, you called me up, I'm being interviewed right now, so you can call me later on... [unrecorded voice on phone] Yes. About three o'clock, two o'clock, something like that... [unrecorded voice on phone] Oh yes, I don't go nowhere. I have to be in place... [unrecorded voice on phone] All right, yeah, bye. [speaking to J.R. again] Yeah, it's a case where this Being is saying, "Okay, now, I taught you, if you want to do something, my people, you can do it. You got the thought there to do it. What are you going to do?" And that's where it is: "what are you going to do? Now, if you're dissatisfied with the world as it is, you have to find something better. Put the blueprint out there; I'll make it, according to what you do." And that's what this Creator's been waiting on: somebody come up with a blueprint for the nations of the world, where He can build, because He's a creator: He'll build. But the danger is, you have to become like God in a sense. A lot of people want to be like gods, but they haven't read all the different scriptures, and one of them says, the gods who do not create shall perish. So then a lot of people jumped over to the name of God, but they don't create nothing, and they die. So you have to do something [every day]. Every day, I create something, I have to create something -- but I'm so far ahead on the creation; I've been doing a whole lifetime, see. Sometimes I create seven things a day, or twenty things a day; some I write something, or else a song, or some poetry, or some more equations that are quite mysterious, but they're there; scientific [inaudible]. Now I was in Berkeley, right here in California, I felt that here, since it's supposed to be the city of sin, everything goes. But in the city of sin, they blocked me. It was perfect [inaudible] -- people say it was perfect, at that University of California, in Berkeley, I was supposed to be teaching there, and I had some of my cosmic things, and I had proof of it, and all the students was reading these books that I didn't write, and it was all done precisely, and then they said that I wasn't here; that I was in Egypt. And I wasn't in Egypt; I was right here. I got the papers to show that the students [inaudible]. I was right here, but then what I told them was, "You don't want me to tell your students what you might call philosophy. If you call yourself a university, you're supposed to expose your students to everything, pro and con, right and wrong. Otherwise they can go out into the world and they won't be prepared; something you might think is insignificant, might be the very thing they have to fight against, and you should prepare them. If you don't like what I'm saying, you should let them hear it so they can get their guard up and fight against it -- if they need to. But then if they can't hear what I'm saying, then they jump out there, and they'll be unprepared." I said, "now you don't have a right to call yourself to be a university, because a university covers everything, right and wrong." I said, "Nature teaches you things; Nature's got some snakes out there, it's got some poisons out there, it's got everything. And if I can't talk here in San Francisco, you going to have a problem in your schools," and so I just left. They didn't pay me, and...
J: When was this?
Sun Ra: Around 1970, or so.
Peter Hinds: '71.
Sun Ra: They didn't pay me in two, three months since I [inaudible]. They dropped me. But then I said, well, why'd they do that? They wanted me to tell about the music; the music has somehing to do with the cosmos; that was what I was doing; I was trying to get them prepared. [phone rings, someone answers: "Saturn Research' ] But then I said, now, why did they do that? Well, I tell the students I'm dealing with equations. Now I have to decide: why is the black race in America in the condition they're in? [speaking to phone] Hello? Okay. She's here. Okay. [back to J.R.] I wanted to find out why were... [side one of tape ends]

Sun Ra: [inaudible] is shipped here, like there was no account whatsoever. And then I had to research on that. So I told the student, that the reason that Black people are in America Ethiopia financed that. Ethiopia instigated it. Ethiopia. I said, if I'm telling you the truth that Ethiopia instigated the enslavement, and dehumanization of Black people in America today, if I'm telling you the truth, the Emperor of Ethiopia is going into house arrest, and will die there. [inaudible]. He went into house arrest; he died there. And I said, now you got a president: Nixon. Now he's not going to make it in the White House; he'll still be in politics; he's coming out of the White House. According to my equations, his name is against him: his name is "Nix": that's negative. Now if you turn his name backwards, it's still negative: it's "No." Now you got "no" forward and backward, so he can't escape; he's coming out of that White House. Now: it happened. Now, about five years later, the university wanted my recorded lectures. Now, they want it, and I said no, well since you didn't recognize when I was there, the lectures belong to me, you can't have it. You still owe me, also, for three months. Well that's the way it is in San Francisco: they really need what I'm talking about. But since they rejected it, what can I do? The world needs to know what I'm saying, and these universities need to know what I'm saying, but I've risen up above universities, say well, they're no good. I had to report to the Creator, say the universities are not suitable, on this planet. They talk about universe, and then they putting something down. That's not proper. But I said so I'm just going to one day establish my omniversity. And in my omniversity, people can learn everything. And I'm going to do that. I'm going to establish my omniversity. Now you don't have an omniversity on the planet. "Universe" just means "one thing," they have to deal with the oneness of things, so I have my equations that say the oneness of things deal with the past. I can prove that by the statement of, "Once upon a time." It does not mean something's going to happen, it does not mean anything's happening now, it has nothing to do with the future, nothing to do with present; once means the past. Now, so I'm dealing with that, I'm dealing with equations, I'm dealing with the cross they got up there; they got "I,H,S,T" up there over there, and I'm dealing with that, what that means, and I'm dealing with further back. If they research, they'll find out they had "Y,H,S,T" up there, and they had "U,H,S,T," they have to go in the Catholic Church over there, in the archives, and look and see: "U,H,S,T" spells "shh-us." Backwards is "shut": S,H,U,T: that's the end of that. Now "YHST" is an ancient Egyptian word, and it has no vowels, but it can be pronounced, and the way you pronounce it is: "wise." Wise. I ask people, how do you pronounce "YHST," and they say "yest," and all that, and some kind of way their mind never comes to pronounce it like it is: "wise." Now, the Book says, "a tree to make one wise." And here you got a man hanging up on the cross: wise, on the tree, then you've got over there where you got the "UHST," the man has become like one of us: UHST: backwards, shut. Now over here, you've got this "IHST." That's "is." But you read it backwards, it's "shit." Now: so you got that shit hanging up there, in that church. Well, I got the whole thing! It's "bullshit!" The Creator -- this force -- has put it out there, for people, and then they have to read, they got to go back and read words. Now, "bull" is a note. To this day the Catholic Church put the "bull" up there. That means a notice. And they put the papal bull up there. Right there. England is called "John Bull." And a bull only means a notice. That's where the word "bulletin" comes from. And so the Creator put the notice up there; the bull up there. But then you got that "shit" backwards, so you got that "bullshit" up there, and all these people are following this bullshit that the Creator put up there. He put it up there to see if they intelligent enough to see what this is. I don't blame them for wanting me not to tell people that, because it's very bad. It is bad that that Catholic Church would someday be giving them wafers to put it on their tongue, and this wafer got shit on it. S,H,I,T 'cause, "IHS," boom, put that shit on their tongue. Now that's very crude, you know, to say that, but of course, I've seen them, and it got it on that wafer: "S,H,I,T." Because the thing in the East, even in Japan, they read this way: [gestures right to left]. The book: boom. This way. And in the West, this way: [gestures left to right]. So you got a case where they all should read this way or that way, and you got a case where in the East: this way. In the West, this way. So then you got a case where it means one thing to the East and another thing to the West, because they do two things: that way, that way. And if something is good for the East, in the West it's bad. It's bad. And here you've got this confusion, like that. And it's like "the East is East, and the West, never the twain shall meet." Well, they got to get together and read the same way, you see. They got to have what I call the Omniversal language. Omniversal language: is music. And it happens to be jazz. Well, in Greek they spell jazz something like ``tzaz'' or something, they call it different names, and this - I got the whole answer about things - is why you got AIDS and all like that - it's so simple, that they don't know. They can't grasp it. AIDS comes from the word ``said.'' You take the `s' and put it on the back. You can do that because ``first should be last.'' And you got AIDS. Well then I have to balance the equation. So then one day somebody who had been to Senegal said they don't call it ``AIDS,'' they call it ``SIDA.'' So there you are. My equations balance. They call it ``SIDA,'' and over here they call it ``AIDS.'' Same words, so I know what I'm talking about. I'm not trying to teach people nothing; they're here today and gone tomorrow anyway. So as far as I'm concerned, they don't exist. If you're here today and gone tomorrow, how can you do anything about that. I'll never see them again maybe - maybe yes, but if you go out there instructing people, they listen, they can save themselves; make it easier. I was standing out on the road looking, and a man came by; he was a shepherd, he had about 300 sheep following him. He didn't look back. Not one sheep strayed. Now here are these sheep, following someone who's not like them, but he's a leader: they follow. Now, how come people can't follow a leader? [inaudible] I was amazed that the sheep demonstrated how to follow a leader, even when the leader is not one of them. Now humanity has got to do that; these nations got to have somebody to represent all the nations. They're gonna be using the colored thing, they're gonna be using the religious thing, and they say, ``Well, we can't put him up there: he's another race; he's another religion.'' But see, this creator - all of them are his people, so he's waiting for them to say, ``We're going to put the most capable person on this planet over us to lead us.'' Now, have they reached that point? It's important for them to reach it, because if they can't recognize one of their own kind as their leader, then the whole thing is futility. And the Creator made a lot of folks who will assume dominance. And he's going to get rid of them, because they don't even respect one another. Now if they can respect somebody - I don't care how bad he is, or what he is - if they can pick one person [to] represent us, they can sign it: ``This [person] represents Planet Earth.'' Then this person can talk to the Creator and tell him: ``Well, the first thing we should do is abolish death. I want you to supervise things some way that people would not get sick. And I want you to open up the heavens so they can go to other planets, and I want them to be educated properly.'' And this person could speak in the name of the people of the Planet Earth. And that's the only way it's going to be, and that's why they always have in those space-pictures, when the space-beings land the first thing they said was, ``Take me to your leader.'' Now. It's all out there when you've said it: ``Take me to your leader'': you're only going to talk to one person.Jennifer Rycenga: Is your band a blueprint, then, for how the world should be?
Sun Ra: Well, it's demonstrating that some people in the form of men can stick together, along with the marriages, and along with the Black Panthers. Along with the many things you put up there, it's still here. And they're not with me because I promised them anything, because I always said they're ``in the Ra jail.'' And my jail is the best jail in the world, and they learn things in my jail. And that's what I express: they're in jail, and they're not going anywhere, because they can't, because the creative God knows me, that if I had my way I'd just [inaudible] and go to Egypt, and be in the desert and hide out and do some of my research cycle. But I can't do that because he got these fellows with me, and I can't just desert them! They don't necessarily believe what I'm saying, because it's so fantastic. I got a picture of John - I'm out there talking to people, and he's standing in the wings terrified with what I'm saying! Because I'll be doing things according to what I'm told, and I have to do equational things, and establish things, and in Philadelphia where it all started, I said I want an audience [inaudible] but all the people there were white, [except for] about three black people in there - as usual - so I came out, off the stage where the band was playing, and I said I was tired of the situation on this planet, with black people still sleeping - dead, not helping me, and the condition they're in - they shouldn't want to be in. They shouldn't want to be like white people; white people are in trouble. And basically they're ignorant of spiritual things. [inaudible] And I would do something to change things, so I said I have to use the book. So I went out in the audience, and then there was a black person on [one] side, and I took him by the head [inaudible] and said, ``Now, it is written: those who I have called my people, I call not my people. The white race are my people now. And the black folk are still over there until they wake up.'' Now, they was up in the air; I had them held by their hair, and they were astounded and they were scared. But the white people didn't say nothing; they just looked up and they smiled. And so I did something then. I said, well, if the black people aren't going to wake up, I'm just going to take over the white race, so go ahead and [inaudible], I've got it now. I said, because, you know, they've got a lot of money - down in Texas I told them this: I'm going to do something wrong tonight. I'm trying to do right, but if I can't so something right, I can do something wrong. Whatever it is, it's wrong, but I'm going to do it in Texas. In Fort Worth. I got up and told the people, they said that God is love; I'm going to abolish that thing. It is no good, because people are more than love, so how come God's got to be limited to one attribute? I've got a song that's called, ``God is more than Love can ever be.'' So don't be talking about ``God is love.'' I said, ``but God does love you if you want to call it that, and he sent me to demonstrate it. Now God's not love. But I am a message of love for you, and I'm going to come out there in the audience and - God sent love in person - I'm coming out there in Texas, and I'm going to walk past you, and whatever you do, do not let Love walk by you without the touch and the feel of Love.'' So I went out there in the audience, and all the Texans had their hands out to touch me. In San Francisco, a teenager came up to me and said, ``Whatever you're making, I know it's not enough for your music,'' so he was offering to take a collection. I said, ``Yes, well, what you have to do though is tell them that they haven't paid their Sun taxes. They've had all this Sun all these years; they never paid no Sun taxes. Tell them I'm going to collect their Sun tax from them.'' And then I got me $500. Now I've just given you some examples of what I'm doing to open up something. The Creator wants to see something different. And that was different. So that's why I say that humanity's ready for something different. Now I've had a lot of trouble out of some musicians saying, ``Too far out, too far out.'' But I'll be saying, ``but the people always show up! How can you say it's too far out?'' There was one musician, I think his name was [inaudible], he said, ``People are not used to 5/4 time.'' But that is not true, because I've got a song called ``Space is the Place,'' and it's in 5/4 time. And we get a standing ovation. And it's in 5/4 time, 3/4 time, 4/4 time, 7/4 time, all the time. And the people hear it, and appreciate it, and they feel it. And a lot of musicians say, no they ain't ready. But the ones who ain't ready are the musicians. Now, that's what causes me a problem. Because they have to be re-taught. They like to think I'm just an ordinary person, and what I'm doing's of no worth, but if they start really investigating - which they haven't - if they delve back (and I've got witnesses), Coleman Hawkins - I played with him - I told the Baroness Nica that, and of course she didn't believe it. Coleman Hawkins came to New York, was playing at the Village Gate, and in the dressing room all at once she asked him, ``Do you know him?'' `cause she thought I was telling a lie. And Coleman Hawkins said, ``Of course I remember him. He's the only somebody who ever wrote something I couldn't play.'' And he said, ``Yes, fifteen years ago, in Chicago, you was playing something, and I asked you to write it out. You wrote it out. I got the chords, I got the melody, it's written right: I can't play it to this day! And it's the only music I've ever seen that I couldn't play.'' And he says, ``It's very simple, but I can't play it!'' He said that in front of everybody. So here you've got a case where I was playing with Fletcher Henderson, and Fletcher Henderson's fellows always said to me, ``You play those strange chords! Why don't you just play like a piano player?'' And I said, ``Well, Fletcher plays piano, he likes the way I play, and hired me, and you just play horn, so you should shut up! I think a piano player would know what I'm capable of, and he likes what I'm doing; he ain't saying nothing, so you should shut up!'' So then it was a big problem. I put in my notice. I said, ``I'm not going to put up with this, because I'm not what you would call a human being. I deal with precision, and if they keep on messing with me, they're going to get an explosion.'' I had to do something about it, it was irritating me. I said, I've got to do something to teach these humans don't mess with me. So the next night I got me a straight razor, and I put it right on the piano, by one of the trumpet players, and I said, ``Tonight, I'm going to cut somebody's head off if they say something about my playing, `cause I'm very evil tonight, and I'm not going to take nothing from no human being. Off goes somebody's head!'' So he didn't bother me no more. And then the next thing that happened, I just put my notice in. So I came back to see who Fletcher got to play piano. And he was down there directing. He had no piano player. And Fletcher said if I didn't play, they wouldn't have a piano. He said, ``Come back on the stage!'' So I went back on the stage, and Fletcher smiled, and I had my job back. There are always strategies. I used a strategy, and so they said, ``Well, why don't you bring some arrangements out?'' So I told Fletcher, well, they can't play it. So they said, ``We play songs and arrangements by Fletcher Henderson! We're professionals, we ain't amateurs, we can sight-read anything!'' Fletcher said, ``Rehearsal, tomorrow, 2 o'clock. Bring your arrangements.'' I brought two arrangements. One was called ``I should Care,'' a very simply ballad. The other was called ``Dear Southland'' [?] Very simple. I put the arrangements there, Fletcher looked at it; it was correct in every respect, three hours later, Fletcher said, ``They can't play it.'' Now, something happened. Something about my music - that had been played by teenagers, so it was correct. Something else happened in Chicago. I was writing for some dancers, they were supposed to be at the [inaudible] Theatre with Count Basie's Orchestra. So I had written the music according to the way they danced, so I took the music there. It had like waltzes in it, different things like that, a medley, and I took it to Count Basie's band, and two hours later they was trying to play that music, a simple waltz. They could not play it. Without the spiritual thing - I put the notes down, but they were not played unless their hearts were right. Now that's the way it is. Now, to tell that to people, I might seem to be out to build me ego up, but Count came, Count saw that they could not play it, Count told the dancers, ``You'll just have to dance by my music.'' And although they had the music written for their dances - it was tailor-made - they had to dance by Count Basie.
Rycenga: So when you include music of these masters in your show, how does that fit into your omni-vision?
Sun Ra: Well, I have to deal with sound. I have to get the sound of Fletcher Henderson. And not just the notes; they have to have the sound of Fletcher Henderson's band exactly the way he would direct it. Now, that's kind of difficult to do, to take the soul of a person and reiterate it, and to present to teenagers or to other Americans who bypassed him; they don't know too much about Fletcher Henderson, although he may have been a good one and a millionaire. So I have to have to say, well, I want them to hear Fletcher Henderson, and therefore, I have to create the same sound Fletcher's band had. And I've done it; when I went to San Francisco recently, a union man walked in. He said, ``You know, when I walked in that door, this band sounded exactly the way Fletcher Henderson sounded. It's amazing! How'd you do that?'' So I did achieve that, you see, it's not my ego talking. The same sound, and then a fellow in the band told me - Noel Scott - he said, ``I was really disturbed tonight, I was very upset.'' I said, ``What upset you?'' He said, ``Well, I got a lot of records by Fletcher Henderson, and on the piano, you sound exactly like he was sitting at the piano. And I know that's impossible, but it's upset me, because all I have to do is shut my eyes, and I can hear Fletcher Henderson and see him, but it was you at the piano.'' I said, ``Oh, really?'' He said, ``Yes!'' He was still upset! Now, here's somebody in the band that said he heard Fletcher Henderson. I said, ``Well, the spirit of different musicians is still around. So if you think enough of him, you can duplicate that.'' Not everyone can do that, but I can. I can duplicate anything, and I've had strange experiences that have happened to me that... Well, it's just different. Like for instance, in Chicago, the waitress brought Erroll Garner in there and said, ``Erroll Garner, this is Sun Ra. Sit right here on the front where you can learn how to play the piano.'' And Erroll Garner didn't say nothing. And I was embarrassed. And then [another night] a singer was going to sing a song I didn't know. She sang, I came in in the proper key, I played the song. When I got through, a piano player told me, ``That's the greatest rendition I ever heard of that song.'' But I wasn't going by what I knew, I just do things. And even now, I'm going to go by what I don't know. I'm dealing with a force that wants to help this planet. Don't want people to die, don't want them to be sick, he wants to open up the omniverse to them where they can be citizens of his government; I'm representing that. And the empire is greater than any empire you ever had. It's the whole omniverse. They would open that up to people, where they can go places - like they, travel broadens the mind. Now, I've been all over this planet, and seen all the people suffering. They've got some nice countries, and I'd be going on, ``this is so beautiful!'' Then I'd pass a cemetery. Then I'd say, ``There's an opportunity.'' In every country, they've got cemeteries. Every country. Now that messes me up when I see that. They've got a big omniverse out there; a totally impossible Being, and here you've got these cemeteries. We've got these people dying and being buried. And this Being said he refuses to have anything to do with a situation like that; people got to learn how to survive. They have to go to school, they might learn something about themselves. They got to understand the mystery of themselves now. I'm saying that the first thing you've got to do: don't call yourself a woman, don't call yourself a man. Because the book says, ``A man is filthy and abominable.'' The book says, ``Man is a [inaudible], wants to die.'' The book says, ``A man is like a beast that perishes.'' So it ain't no good to be a man. The book says a woman is the cause of all this trouble - named Eve. Now I'm dealing with equations, so I told a woman, I said, ``That really disturbs me that they said a woman disobeyed God and caused all these problems; I think the women of the world should get together, and get some cows, and burn, and ask the Creator to forgive Eve for what she did.'' I mean, it doesn't make any difference whether she did or not, I think that everyone in the world should get that off of them. And this woman, she said, ``I'm not going to do nothing like that! Eve did exactly what she wanted to do, and she didn't ask for forgiveness, and I'm not going to do nothing.'' So there you are. There you are.
Rycenga: Still being disobedient.
Sun Ra: I said, ``Dreadful what's happened to women; they have to suffer through menstruation.'' It's something wrong. Now, I think they should correct it. And then it came up that this creator threw down Hitler, and said, ``We should meet and declare Jesus of Nazareth innocent. One reason we're hated, as Jews, is that we're accused of condemning him, and we should get that off of us; the world hates us because of that.'' And then they decided, they said, ``Well, we didn't do it; the Romans did it. Italy should do it [apologize], the Romans should do it.'' But then Italy said, ``No, we did not do it. Pilate washed his hands of it. We're not guilty; you're the ones that did it.'' And so they refused to declare Jesus of Nazareth innocent. And they got a lot of problems there. They should do it. It wouldn't have occurred to a lot of Jews over there, who say, ``Well, yes, we should do that. So that in the eyes of the world, we will not be accused of killing an innocent man.'' But see, they didn't wake up. They should have done it, and the world could no longer accuse the Jews of being unjust. They don't understand cosmic things - but I do. But I'm not seen to be a leader of any kind of way - it doesn't interest me. You were here today, and gone tomorrow. But this Being said that I could change the world. And I can't get away from it. I've had too many experiences letting me know: ``Yes.'' Right here in San Francisco, on the highway we were going to the airport, June was in there, and somebody else was in there, and Danny was driving, and Danny was asleep. He was right behind another car, about that close; another car was right behind him, about that close; and June said, ``Danny!'' Now, he couldn't put on the brakes. He couldn't curve. We were going maybe 60, Danny likes to drive fast. In San Francisco, the car rose up like that in the next lane. Now. That's it. [Makes a smacking sound] Kept going. Now, behind things like that, I have to say, ``Something's happening!'' In San Francisco again. On one of them hills - I said, ``You know, I don't see how people on this planet existed! It's terrible here! They have to depend on something; they have to depend upon the Creator to survive. They must do that. It's very terrible here.'' Then we played in Santa Cruz, they saw it [indicating John and Peter Hinds], a man held my hand, he would not turn my hand loose, we were sitting there, and he looked in my eyes, shook his head, he shut his eyes, he held my hand - nobody could put him out, and he said, ``My girlfriend told me that you're the greatest person on the planet Earth, and the greatest musician; that's why I came out.'' And he said, ``You know, she told the truth.'' And they couldn't this man out of there, they tried, they said, ``The place is closed!'' He wouldn't turn my hand loose, he shut his eyes - he was feeling something. In Chicago, they had psychics. Four of them came up to see me. Three women, one man. One of the women shook and held my hand. Thirty minutes, she would not turn my hand loose, and she was talking about, ``Power! Power! Power! Energy! Energy!'' Would not turn my hand loose. And I didn't want to jerk my hand away. That happened to me in Chicago, there were psychics. Another psychic - I didn't know he was a psychic - he worked for the Police to solve problems, so he was there in the backstage, and I was sitting up on a box, so he sat up there with me, and he said, ``Wow!'' He jumped down, and he said, ``You go up to the North Star, you turn left, you go a million light-years, and you come to where you came from.'' And the name of the place he came from is Zaricon[?]. He went on and told about, I've been on this planet 14 years, and I was supposed to raise the consciousness of people of this planet so the spaceships could land, `cause they don't want to cause no panic, so he said, ``Your job is to raise the consciousness of the people on this planet, through music, so they can land.'' That happened to me. And we played in Boston, and I was telling some people the same thing I'm telling you now, about that Zaricon. The man there said, ``You know, I heard what you said. I'm worried about what's going to happen to this planet. I went to India, and I was asking the swamis, `What is the fate of humanity? What are we going to do?''', he said, ``and one of them told me, `Only one from Zaricon knows. He'll come. He'll straighten it out.''' He said, ``You just said about this psychic, said he was from Zaricon, and I know what the man meant.'' Now, behind all these things, something else has entered my so-called life, has said, ``You can help the planet.'' Now I'm saying, ``Why should I be like all these preachers and all?'' But this force said, ``I only recognize you. Nobody else.'' We went to Nigeria, and they had this big festival, poets and intellectuals and everything; there were 5000 people - beautiful auditorium. The poets and everyone wanted to appear in an auditorium, but the Nigerian government said, ``We don't respect nobody from America but Sun Ra. This auditorium, only governments appear; we're going to have two governments presented each night, Sun Ra's going to be in there with the Zanzibar government, and y'all can't be in it.'' So then they was very upset, but the Nigerian government said that only I would appear. So when these different governments would appear, the first thing they would do was bring out their flag. And here I was over there, in a sense being recognized as a government, and what flag was I going to use? So what I did is I brought my flag out there, and there was practically...
Hotel Maid: Hi Sir! [she has a loud, musical voice]
Sun Ra: ... a standing ovation.
Hotel Maid: Excuse me, can we take those dirty towels?
Sun Ra: Yeah. So when I came out...
Hotel Maid: Sorry! You are taking off today?
Sun Ra: No.
Hotel Maid: You're going to stay?
Sun Ra: We're checking out about 6 o'clock.
Hotel Maid: Ohhhhh!
Sun Ra: We're playing, and after we get through playing, we won't be back here. So now I came out with my flag, and the band wasn't...
Hotel Maid: Thanks!
Sun Ra: They weren't aware of what was happening. And I held my flag up. Standing ovation. Wasn't a United States flag, neither. It was not a Black Panther flag. It was the flag of Death. It was purple and black. I know what I'm doing. I had the flag of Death up there, because it do represent death on this planet, and so what they got all this [inaudible]. But that's another kind of death. You got two deaths; they say it's fear in the second death, fear him who is able to cast both soul and body into hell. Don't fear the first death. Now the second death is man. [phone rings]
John Hinds: [handing phone to Sun Ra] Denver Post!
Sun Ra: Hello? Yes, uh-huh, no; I'm being interviewed in a sense. [pause] In Denver? Well, okay.
Dan Plonsey: [whispering to Peter and John Hinds while Sun Ra listens to the telephone] Did you see the Arkestra the last two nights?
Peter Hinds: [whispering] Yeah, we were in Santa Cruz. That's where the man was who ``wouldn't let go.'' Then we were up in Davis on Saturday night.
Sun Ra: [talking to phone] Well, you know, I was busy studying my psychic things, trying to find out what makes this planet tick, and why is everything going wrong, and why people are headed toward nuclear annihilation. So I was busy trying to find out, where does God stand; why doesn't he do something? I had to find out: why? And that's what I was doing; I was researching, I realized I'd be a world figure, with people asking me things, and I wanted to be sure when I answered them that the equations were correct. And so it took some time for me to get these equations; I had to study all kinds of things about different nations, I had to understand their culture, their philosophy, their religion, their past, their condition; I had to learn all of that. So then I would know their weak points. Now I did that, and I wanted to play [inaudible] And that's what I had to do so they didn't and they write too much about me. And then, more and more, I'm [being asked personal questions]. I've been asked them now. Well, actually, I'm a psychic being, and you know, we don't concern ourselves with being born; we concern ourselves with being eternal; we deal with the spirit. Because the body is only reproduction of things - a copy - so it's not really an original. You say you came from your parents. Well, a low person will really say that they were born, but they were just reproduced - and that's a copy. But I'm dealing with the spirit - it's not a copy. No two spirits are alike. I'm dealing with that. So then, we don't, in a sense, exist, because we all live in somebody else's body. I don't know about being born. I just happened, you know, I happened to be, just like in Uncle Tom's Cabin. I think Topsy[?] had some good sense. Because you can't prove that you were born, unless you remember it. I'm only dealing with facts. I cannot prove, I cannot remember being born, so I don't know nothing about it. [pause] Well, I never been one; I was in the form of a child, but I've always been wise, and finally I graduated to be ``otherwise.'' [pause] Well, I've never had nobody tell me anything. Like most children, their parents will be telling them things, and leading them; I was completely free. I don't have anybody to tell me anything. I was completely free to do whatever I wanted to do. My parents didn't tell me nothing. I was just free, and innocent, and I had to learn. I'm still innocent, because I'm still ignorant. Because I'm ignorant, my mind absorbed all kinds of things, the whole cosmos, the omniverse, because I'm empty-headed. I got a lot of room - some people are so wide, ain't no room up there for nothing to get up there! [pause] Well actually, when I think about the potential of humanity, then I'm happy. But otherwise, I'm most miserable when I see how it really is. [pause] Well, that is true, I was playing Fletcher Henderson - he was directing, and I played, at the club de Lisa, with him about a year or more, until he left there and went to [inaudible]. So you might say I played with his last band. [pause] What? Oh no, his brother had his own band, his brother had moved to - I think - to Seattle, and then Denver, I think. [pause] Yeah. So I never met his brother. But he had a great band too. [pause] Well, see what happened is, it was his band, it wasn't the last band, of a band he picked up in - let's see - Pittsburgh. He picked that band up because Fletcher had so much trouble [inaudible] So he just decided he would pick up a player. So in this case, he just picked up a whole band in Pittsburgh. And that was the band that he brought to Chicago, and he had a piano player who was an arranger. The piano player was also studying law. So he had to play until 4 o'clock in the morning, and go to school too. So one night, when the show started he was missing, `cause he was asleep in the car. Fletcher sent for me. He needed someone to sight-read, and after I came and played that night, Fletcher kept me. [pause] Well, I was in Chicago, and I was playing. The musicians in Chicago liked what I was doing, and I was always working, with trios and duos, and whatever. They were fascinated by what I was doing, playing a different sort of piano. And I always worked. And then I played off nights at the club de Lisa with another band. And they had nothing but top acts in there. [pause] In South Side, on State Street. Near 55th Street, or Garfield Boulevard, and it stayed open until 4 and 5 in the morning; you could always go and see a show at 4 o'clock in the morning, the last show, and it was very inexpensive. It helped a lot of people, and you could always go there and see the last show. And they had top acts in there. [pause] That's where Fletcher was playing, and when he played a show, the stage would rise up for people to see the show, and the band would rise up. And then after the show, the stage would come down, and it had a dance floor, and the people would dance by the band, and then Fletcher would play about four numbers, something like that. And then after intermission, the stage would go back up in the air, and the show would proceed. So everybody could see the show. [pause] Oh, I was playing, and I had terrible trouble out of the band, who really was upset by me playing what they called those ``strange chords.'' But Fletcher Henderson played piano; he hired me, and I had to always be cussing them out, and telling them that Fletcher hired me, and he's a piano player, and I'm one too, so Fletcher knew more about the piano than they did, so they should shut up. But I had problems with them. [short pause] Everybody in the band! They weren't used to nobody like me, because I was busy creating! [pause] I was already hearing them. And then I went, and I had to find out about the white race, whether they'd do it, so I had to investigate them. So I went and took me a job in a burlesque club. So I could see what they're doing down there. I had to find out, what are the hillbillies doing? I had to investigate. And so I stayed in the Burlesque club for about three years, deliberately, in Chicago. In Calumet City. It's near Chicago. You don't have too far to go before you come to Calumet City. Calumet City, which had nothing but troubles there. They say gangsters owned the town. But that's all they had there, so you could go out of one burlesque club and into the other. [pause] I think I went to Chicago in the 40s; I believe I did. [pause] I went there to play in a band called Sir Oliver Bib's And you'd have to really delve back into music history to find out about him, because nobody misses him, but he had a band. And he was reorganizing his band. And he heard me play, and he wanted me to play with the band. They were planning to wear period costumes, you know like Frenchmen and all like that. What the Frenchmen were wearing in the 17th Century, or something. [pause] Yeah, they would wear that! But he never did. And I left. [pause] Well, actually, the band he had was a pickup band from Pittsburgh, and it wasn't his band in one sense; it was in another sense, because he paid them well. So I would say, they respected that. I don't know whether they respected anything else. And Fletcher was a model bandleader, he wasn't getting high or doing nothing like that. Well, he had one fault, if you'd call it that - everybody talked about it - he played the horses every day. [pause] Well, that's the only thing I saw that was trouble: Fletcher playing the horses. And I don't know if he ever won, really. I never did see. In fact he borrowed a hundred dollars from me to play the horses; I never did get it back. But I never did ask for it. I was delighted. [pause] Right, when I wasn't doing anything else, the musicians out there would always call me to come to Calumet City, and I had to play from 8 o'clock to 5 in the morning sometimes. And I didn't get but ten dollars a night, but I didn't care; I was doing my research. They would bring out whole symphonies written, they had that music. And you had to be able to read, you couldn't just play there, when they come in there they brought their music and you had to play their arrangements. So this way, I learned a lot of different songs. [pause] A lot of songs. And I know a lot of standards. [pause] Oh, well I'm a natural, you see, like birds come here to fly, I just have a gift that's on a cosmic level. The only trouble is I'm a scholar, and I'd like to be a scholar, but then some forces say, ``No, you have people.'' I said, ``Why me? Because,'' I say, ``you got preachers, you got teachers, you got counselors, you got presidents, and kings, and all that, and I'm just a poor person.'' You see, I arrived here in Alabama, which is supposed to be the most discriminatory state. But when Governor Wallace was in office, he sent for me to come to his mansion. And I went down there, in his mansion, a little party, and then he had me come up to Birmingham Alabama, and he gave me an American Music award - composer, covering all planes of music. That's what Alabama did. Now my band had never played there, and about two, three months ago, the booker who books us insisted I go to Alabama, but none of the places were open for me to go. So he put me in a place, a hillbilly, redneck, motorcycle gang, Nazi, Ku Klux Klan place that was rough, and they had five pool tables in the back. Now, he put me in this place, on the edge of a black neighborhood. Black people who knew about it, they weren't going in there. So then they put me on a Tuesday night, which as you know is a slow night for night clubs, but the place was packed, standing room only, and when I got through playing there, the people surrounded me and said, ``Love is around you in Alabama.'' And then they shouted my name for about fifteen minutes. Shouted, ``Ra! Ra!'' I had to get out of there and go in the bus. Yes! The Ku Klux Klan and rednecks too! Something happened to me too in New York City too, at Carnegie Hall. I, some time, marched around the harbor; this time I marched around the block. And then I was terrified: I said, ``You know what? It looks like some hillbillies was following me!'' And they said, ``It was! Two bus-loads of hillbillies jumped out and walked behind me in New York City, around Carnegie Hall. I played at an opening of a stadium going to be named after Louis Armstrong. So they had me play there with six pieces. And then the hillbillies, when they heard me, they said that America wasn't treating me right, that that was the greatest music America had, and they came up there in their buses from the South, and they came to hear us, and they had their tickets for every event. In protest, about me not getting recognized like I should be by America, all the hillbillies turned in their tickets and got one ticket to come to Carnegie Hall, to hear the band, and that was them, marching around with me. [pause] Well, actually what I represent is totally impossible. It affects every nation on the planet - on this planet. It affects government, it affects schools, it affects churches; the whole thing has got to be turned to another way of thought. A blueprint for another kind of world. So naturally, I don't have recourse to churches or anything, it's just me, I'm all alone, you might say, talking something the planet never heard before! Therefore, I prefer to play it low profile, and pass by. [pause] Well, they're busy feeling that they'd better find out what I'm talking about, just in case I'm telling the truth. [pause] Yes. [pause] Well, you know, when they first called me, I said ``I'm not going to do it.'' And so the booking agent said, ``Well, America needs to hear you, and you should do this, because there are going to be some top stars on there and everything, and they'll be able to hear you.'' And so finally he convinced me I should do this. So they gave me this ``Dumbo,'' you see. So then I had to get - I'm very thorough, you know - I went and got the videotape, I had never even seen that, and I listened to it, and then they had an arranger who was going to arrange [for] me. And then when he came up there, he hands some stuff to the band, and they play nothing like this, this is not suitable, so in the studio, I had to sit down and write that arrangement. I tailor-made it, and it came out very nice; even the singing. [pause] Right, it had the spirit. Now, in New York City, they're talking about me playing at the Bottom Line, and playing a whole night of nothing but Walt Disney. [pause] Of course I'm interested; I'm always interested in something which everybody can't do. You see, I'm teaching musicians a lesson on this planet, and I'm always doing something they can't do. And I'll be quite delighted; they'll be trying to steal my stuff and catch up with me, and I really got them this time, because I did a concert with John Cage, now they can't do that! John Cage is very exclusive; and he tends to stay over there writing his operas and things, and he never was on the same stage with any other musician. So I jumped up - teach that Cecil Taylor and the rest of them a lesson - and I was right there with John Cage on the same stage, and played some - I've got that record out. It's historical. And we did a concert at Coney Island, and everybody was shook up. The producer of the show made a mistake, because they sold every ticket for twenty dollars, and only about 200 people could get in there. So it was in a side show, you might say - it had been a side show, with snake charmers and all that - so then what happened is it's possible to open up the side, because the people on the boardwalk wanted to hear, so they opened that up, and we had a lot of people standing outside listening to me and John Cage. [pause] And it's on that record, you know. He's reciting; he's doing some chants there. And you'll hear. Well, what he was doing, he had his watch. So then he deals with silences too, so he had a watch, and he'd be chanting and all that, and then he'd look at the watch, and he had two minutes of silence. The audience was sitting up, nobody saying nothing, then he'd start chanting again. Then maybe the next thing maybe he'd have one minute of silence. And that's on the record. [pause] [tape ends]

Shortly after the tape ran out, Sun Ra began asking the Denver Post reporter about Denver. Specifically, he wanted to know about ``breatharians'': people who exist solely by breathing pure air; Sun Ra had heard that some such people supposedly lived in or near Denver where the high altitude made for particularly good air. Sun Ra said he was considering asking certain members of the Arkestra who ate too much to become breatharians. I mention this because, as most readers will suspect by now, Sun Ra had a dry sense of humor, and it was - and is - difficult to know how he meant some of his remarks.
-- Dan Plonsey


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