Monday, October 06, 2008

"Our Song"

Joe Henry. Image found here.

This morning, as I was catching up on the news and feeling generally, like, bummed about The Way Things Are, good old iTunes shuffled over to this Joe Henry song from his most recent album, Civilians. If you happen to like it, you can download it for free from Henry's website, along with other selections from Civilians.

I really listened closely this morning and realized, It's a prayer for the speaker, but also one we all can pray. I hope you'll listen closely, too. No matter one's politics, it seems to me the lyric hits on a ground about as common as a protest song is ever likely to hit upon. It's a blues in sentiment if not in form, and like the best blues, there is resolve and strength underneath the sentiment that somewhere in the middle things have gone wrong.

Surely, Henry sings, we can hope to become a better people on the other side of all this, wherever that Other Side might lie.

Anyway. I needed to hear this, just when I heard it. Maybe you do too and just don't yet know it.

2 comments:

Bobby Rozzell said...

Thanks for posting this song John. Listening to it I thought about how this could easily be a song for the soundtrack of Mad Men or Swingtown or my life.
There hasn't been a time in my experience of this country when I could say I am proud of all it's a part of, and there hasn't been a time when I did not have great hope for the best of it to rise up.
Kinda like how I feel about myself.
Thanks for the the thought provoking.

John B. said...

Bobby,
Thank you, and You're most welcome. This song's real appeal to me is that it doesn't engage in recriminations. When only 9% of the nation believes that the nation is on the right track, I think it's safe to say that few can escape responsibility. This is the sort of song that anyone of good will can sing out loud with anyone else of good will--anyone who genuinely wants what's best for ourselves and all our fellow citizens.

As for your observations about Henry's music, there's indeed a bit of artsy cabaret to him that gives his work a throwback feel. In fact, on his previous album, Tiny Voices, at its very beginning there's (intentional) audible popping that will sound very familiar to those of us who grew up with vinyl, and in its very quiet spots there's just a bit of rumble of the sort that one occasionally could hear when one played LPs and the tonearm wasn't quite balanced. Nice touches.