“It’s Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and John Lennon put together!” That’s what I usually told my non Indonesian friend when I have to explain to them who Iwan Fals is. I may sound exagerating, but I think so did Time Magazine when they crowned Iwan as one of the so-called Asian Heroes. Even Iwan himself refused to be given such an honourable title. “I’m just an ordinary human being,” he said one day to a major newspaper in Indonesia.
Well he is telling the truth. He is an ordinary human after all. The past few days, I’ve been stuffing my poor old MP3 player with quite a variety of Iwan Fals’ old song, and this is just a few days after he released his latest album “50:50“. Why?
Listening to Iwan Fals’s latest album is like listening to Bob Dylan singing “You Belong To Me” in one of “Natural Born Killer’s” original soundtrack (1994). Thats why! It’s good, but it’s definitely not Dylan. It’s just not!
For whatever reason, many legendary musicians had tried making a comeback. Nothing wrong with that. But I just think they have to leave the past behind and bring back something different.
Whatever they do, the past will remain in the past. But like Bob Dylan, what Iwan Fals did in his past works is actually a timeless message to the young musicians nowadays. What’s the message? Time Magazine did a great job of summing it up in the following paragraph:
“Here’s why Iwan Fals matters: because boy bands don’t take on dictatorships. They don’t stand up when everyone else is hunkering down. They don’t put to song what others are afraid to put in print. Pop stars should give a damn–when they do, remarkable transformations are possible.” (Quoted from Time Magazine’s Asian Heroes edition)