Guyana Dreamin’

Back in the 1980s I was hired to edit a documentary on Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple mass suicide. 900 folks killed themselves in their settlement in the jungles of Guyana. Heavy stuff to work with each day, and my outlet was that it inspired this song – Guyana Dreamin’ – Loosely named after the Mommas and Papas song, California Dreamin’. I interviewed one of the survivors – an NBC cameraman who came over to Guyana with the congressman who was investigating Jones and precipitated a massacre at the airport by Jones’ henchmen that led to the mass suicide. Man, he was still wrecked by the experience and very bitter that he couldn’t get hired any longer because everyone thought he was in his words, “damaged goods” due to his experiences. And then there was the Super-8 sound footage we got a hold of that had been shot by Jones’ people in Guyana to use for fundraising back in in the States. There’s an unbelievably ironic scene where they are holding a feast with entertainment in the dining hall in Guyana and there’s a fellow playing guitar and singing the theme from M.A.S.H. which, if you don’t know, is entitled “Suicide is Painless.” And even more ironic, as you may recall, almost all of them died, men, women, and children, from drinking Kool-Aid laced with Cyanide. So we have this footage of Jones himself taking us on a tour of their food stores, and in one scene he stops and points out some supplies saying, “And this is where we keep the Kool-Aid.” So, as you can see, the weird, strained, discordant tones of this song, as well as the dark lyrics, were my way of getting my head around the stuff of tragedy and shedding it into the art. Now it’s yours! 🙂