I keep coming back to the idea of songs as remedies or responses to situations, positive or negative. I recently watched a video interview that Amy Goodman did with Pete Seeger in August of 2013. Pete is aging, but he continues to be a paragon of hopefulness and action in the face of challenges. In a way, his whole life has answered with a song.
I wrote this song many years ago. I can’t remember the exact circumstances, except that my dear friend and wonderful singer/songwriter Barbara Tilsen has a daughter named Molly who was involved in some kind of civil protest. At some point in the action the police became threatening. Molly was well schooled in the power of music in such situations, and began to lead her group in singing, which helped to calm and change the emotion. When I heard the story from Barbara, I wrote the song.
Activists have used songs in this way for hundreds of years. The Civil Rights movement in the United States is a powerful example, and my book “We Shall Overcome: A Song That Changed the World” tells some of those stories.
Here’s another contribution that suggests that songs are, if not the answer, at least one important answer to the world we face, with all its devastating challenges and awe-inducing beauty.
I offer this song to honor the work of the Solidarity Singers in Madison, who have sung at the Capitol for nearly two years to protest the divisive and destructive policies of Scott Walker and his legislative cronies. The Solidarity Singers answer with songs everyday.
Answer with a Song