Friday, 13 November 2015

The Jonestown Death Tape

Death is a million times preferable to another 10 days of this life” intones the lisping voice of Jim Jones… I’m listening to the so-called The Jonestown Death Tape before a screening of the two-part television film Guyana Tragedy: The Jim Jones Story starring Powers Boothe (pictured below) as the fanatical cult leader who walked 918 people to their death in November 1978. The 44min tape recorded moments before the Jonestown massacre makes for chilling listening, as Jones is heard pleading with his congregation to commit their act of “revolutionary suicide”, spreading fear among reluctant Temple members about reprisals for the murder of Congressman Leo Ryan, (“If You knew what was ahead of you, you would be glad to be stepping over tonight”). At one point a dissenter questions Jones’ rationale but Jones calmly shrugs off her argument while more zealous members scornfully shout her down, willingly embracing their leader’s final edict (“We are ready to go!”). It’s voyeuristic stuff for sure, but the tape is out there so….

For anyone interested in Jim Jones, it's worth taking a listen to a short recording of the late American televangelist, pastor, faith healer Robert W. Schambach speaking about the Jonestown massacre. I have no details on the date of the recording, but can be heard opening the 1984 track Ram by the great experimental electronic outfit :Zoviet*France: Listen here...

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