God Bless the Child

Eva Cassidy covered this early 1940s lament by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog in a 2003 recording. She’s makes the perennial moan her own. Why can’t people, especially religious folk, treat each other better?

Yes, the strong gets more
While the weak ones fade.
Empty pockets don’t ever make the grade.
Mama may have, Papa may have,
But God bless the child who’s got his own.


Aisha Badru recently recorded this song, and the video mixes a quiet reflection with dance and flashbacks to ground the experience in our present context.

We are splintered,
And we are rotten.
Deep within the walls that we’ve forgotten,
All the answers
To all our problems
Lie within the one who tries to dodge them.

Don’t (Just) Vote

Cass McCombs and Angel Olsen put together this tune, a remake of an earlier tune by the same name by McCombs. (Well, kind of. The “Just” was parenthesized between the original two-word title.) It cheekily lays out the case to move beyond the casting of a vote and engage in the issues at hand.

The song closes with a great quote from Noam Chomsky.

Vote for Breonna Taylor, vote for George Floyd
Vote for Oscar Grant, render racism void
Vote for Eric Garner, vote for Tamir Rice
Vote for change or pay the price

The Bigger Picture

Lil Baby raps much of the frustrations that flare as senseless deaths pile up.

I can’t lie like I don’t rap about killing and dope,
But I’m telling my youngins to vote.
I did what I did ’cause I didn’t have no choice or no hope.
I was forced to just jump in and go.
This bullshit is all that we know, but it’s time for a change.
Got time to be serious, no time for no games.
We ain’t takin’ no more, let us go from them chains.
God bless they souls, every one of them names.

Sunday movie meditation

Charlie Tyrell explored a puzzle that involved his father working through a private hell. Tyrell’s short film is wrenching but ultimately a condensed portrait of a person determined to break an all-too familiar cycle. Ultimately, Tyrell’s work tells the story of the hard work of a couple’s determination to make a difference and hope that as a history of abuse will end.

My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes is a courageous, innovative expert film and bears watching.

Beautiful Strangers

Kevin Morby spends his time when flying composing, so his head is literally in the clouds at times. A close listen to this sprawling tune will yield clues to why Morby donated proceeds from the song’s sales to Everytown for Gun Safety.
Wen quizzed by Lindsey Moon and Mark Simmet in March of 2020 for Iowa Public Radio, Morby responded to a question of how folks should respond to his art on “big-picture issues: ” ‘I want people to walk away with a sense of hope. If there’s anything people take from my music, I hope it’s hope.’ “

A live performance brings echoes of Bob Dylan’s art.

And if I die too young for something I ain’t done,
Carry my name every day.
Oh, I’m sorry.
Oh, I’m sorry
Freddie Gray.
But sleep easy like baby Jesus in a manger.
Oh, sleep easy like little Jesus, beautiful stranger,
Oh, beautiful stranger.

People Get Ready

Here’s Seal soulfully delivering his take on Curtis Mayfield’s classic, embellished by gospel choir. It’s no wonder Martin Luther King Jr. named the song the unofficial anthem of the civil rights movement. It’s stirring.

People get ready, there’s a train a comin.’
You don’t need no baggage, you just get on board.
All you need is faith, to hear the diesels hummin.’
Don’t need no ticket, you just thank the Lord.

They’ll Never Keep Us Down

Kelsey Waldon sings a good, old union tune by Hazel Dickens in this video recorded in November of 2020., complete with stellar bluegrass band.

Your welfare on the rich man’s mind
They want the power in their hands
Just to keep out of the workers hands
Your welfare on the rich man’s mind
They’ll never, never, never keep us down
They’ll never, never, never keep us down
The cheat, rob and kill but we’ll stop that big wheel
They’ll never, never, never keep us down

And, if lyric videos are your thing, here’s a linke to Mississippi Goddam, a fiery cover of Nina Simone’s song.

Forgive Them Father

Rhythm and blues, hip hop and rap mix as Lauryn Hill presents this tune from her 1998 Miseducation album, sounding outrage, a warning and a wish in the spirit of Bob Marley.

Let’s free the people from deception.
If you looking for the answers
Then you gotta ask the questions.
And when I let go, my voice echoes through the ghetto.
Sick of men trying to pull strings like Geppetto.
Why black people always be the ones to settle.
March through these streets like Soweto.