I alone am the answer
I alone will make wrongs right
But in order to root out the cancer
It’s got to be kept from the sight


An operant word here is “sly.” Woven into the Decembrists’ tunes (They hail from Portland) are deep-seated longings, occasionally including outright comments on the state of the union and (if I may be so bold as to suggest) offering encouragement to keep on resisting forces that would erode the voices of freedom.

Here’s Starwatcher, from which I’ve included the lyrics at the start of this blog.

Here’s the video for Severed, which puts the song in an immediate context.

Thanks to blogger Brenton Dickieson, I’ve scored the young-adult Wildwood trilogy authored by Decembrists’ lead singer Colin Meloy. His storytelling ability is on par with his songwriting.


“You’re a real man, and you do what you can
You only take as much as you can grab with two hands
With your big heart, you praise God above
But how’s it working out for you, honey?
Do you feel loved?”


Florence and the Machine pays tribute to Patty Smith in this tune, introduced by strings, part of her album High as Hope.

She performed this tune in concert in 2018 and inspired an essay, located here. The writer found the experience memorable.

Here’s the song performed live. Florence Welch has a tremendous stage presence. Here, a repeated piano chime introduces the performance.

Rolling Thunder

Carve out time to watch Martin Scorsese’ Rolling Thunder Revue. It’s on Netflix. It’s remarkable.

Its’a tour de force which combines Dylan’s puckish humor and Scorsese’s remarkable ability to craft a story.

Dylan and Scorsese wrap the film in concert footage, a fictional narrative, delighting in tying together a myriad of references. It leaves viewers breathless, at times.

By far, the best bits are the cuts from the band that formed the Rolling Thunder Revue. Those cuts are ferocious. Dylan pops to the foreground, all teeth, terrifying with his images and poetry.

Isis and A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall will never be the same. And those cuts are at the film’s start. It rolls on from there.

It’s fact, fiction, dreams, nightmares, scenes, lyrics and music.

I’ll be watching it a number of times. It’s that good. That’s the film’s underlying attraction. It’s sheer, unadulterated, loud song, story and poetry.

Gimme Shelter

This tune kicked off the Let It Bleed album, smack dab in the middle of the Vietnam conflict, and this promotional video of the Rolling Stones gives us a look at the mood of the time.

War, children, it’s just a shot away. It’s just a shot away.


You can blow out a candle
But you can’t blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher.

Hard to believe this song is 30-plus years old. It remains an anthem, then and now, whether from the funereal-paced Peter Gabrilel’s Melt album, the defiant video that mixes cinema with live clips or the anthemic cover by the Playing for Change band published in 2017. Guess it goes to show that music with a heart never dies…

Why doth music protest?

…Because Biko.