Sounding An Alarm For Charlottesville 20 Years Ago

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Here's the cover of my 1995 self-released album "I’m 'Bout To Explode," mostly written in #Charlottesville, predicting and poetically detailing the divisions growing in our country and world we are seeing today, calling us to take action before it was too late. This is the album I left #Charlottesville with 22 years ago and came to New York on the encouragement of mentors Allen Ginsberg and Pete Seeger, desperately hoping to stem everything we are seeing today - not only in our country, but across the world, from Appalachia to Los Angeles, and from Baghdad to Brazil. The song titles speak for themselves:

“The 2nd Civil War” - Finally, op-ed’s suggesting such a possibility are showing up today, but this divisiveness could have been prevented had we paid attention sooner. “When the 2nd Civil War Began I was watching my TV, and the footage I saw on all our screens didn’t seem to change a thing, ‘cause we all are fighting - from behind closed doors - from our front row seats - to our own civil war.”

“OK City Blues” – about how the Oklahoma City bombing was a wake up call that was ignored by a consumer society thinking everything was OK, while poverty, anger and extremism festered and grew here at home and across the world.

“Talkin’ Extremist Blues” – a satire about extremists of all kinds, they’re coming through our video screens, out of our faucets and up through our toilet bowls. “Old Man Truck Dead” – about the inevitable demise of the gas engine set in a post-apocalyptic Paradise Lost where oil wells have dried up, a burning sun has killed off all plant life, and a starving former truck driver who can’t find water drinks from an oil tainted well and dies. And, “Wind And The Rain” – later renamed “Bring It On” – a call to arms for the global generation echoing “The Times They Are A Changin,’” rallying us to complete the unfinished work of creating a just world in which we are equals.

When I think of Heather Heyer, the young woman who was killed in Saturday’s protests, I can’t help but think that I when I wrote these songs 20 years ago, I walked the very block where her blood was spilled several times a week, contemplating our country’s future, hoping to prevent the escalation that was already evident then. And, I am furious that our politicians, our media, our music and entertainment industries silenced the voices among us over the past couple decades who could have bridged divides among us sooner and lead our country down a different trajectory.

But we are here today. And, this is a time in which we must heal our country and bring people together. As Heather’s mother, Susan Bro, intimated eloquently at her daughter’s memorial yesterday, this is our time to stand up and lead: “Let's channel that anger not into hate, not into violence, not into fear, but let's channel that difference, that anger, into righteous action." Ms. Bro said

When I wrote these songs, I was trying to sound the alarm bell and give voice to what I believed and still believe is a silenced majority of us, not only across this country, but all countries across the world, who are fed up with inequality and all of the divisions it requires to sustain itself. Our silenced majority must stand up now and unite us across the divide in the great, universal, and nobel cause of creating a world in which we are all equals.