New Music / Freshly Written & Recently Released (July 27)
AN ORGANIC EXPERIENCE
A few weeks ago I went to Bowery Electric and saw Rue Snider and his band. That was the first time I saw them do a show. Dressed in what might have been a space suit, he did an exciting show featuring a lot of music from his very recently released new album "City Living".
I've been listening to his album since then, and I can say that it definitely lives up to its name. The songs cover a wide range of city life, not only about our own personal hopes and drama, but also a connection to and a rooting in what's outside our front doors. Listening to all eleven tracks envelop you and grounds you in time and place, covering a panorama of life in the city. The music includes everything from love songs to the political, and very interestingly, contains many references to local aspects of life in Brooklyn and New York (especially in track 10, "Wouldn't Be Summer"). While I lived in Brooklyn for many years and can relate to some of the specific place references, the story lines in the songs could be part of life in many cities and towns. It's truly a whole, organic experience. And one of the reasons that makes it so is also the inclusion of some of the broader macro issues that currently face our society as a whole, regardless of what city you might live in.
Decency Can't Dance Alone
What a horrific couple weeks we've had, with terrorist attacks in the form of attempted mail bombings and actual shootings at, of all places, a house of worship. It's times like these when we can feel overwhelmed. The media accounts leave us with too much of a sense of horror and vulnerability. And too small a sense of true healing.
It's times like these when we need the reassurances that, yes, there still are many good people out there, people who are ready to put themselves on the line to make the world a better place. We need an antidote to the divisiveness we too often hear from our country's current leadership.
And I definitely found inspiration from the last track on "City Living". When I first heard "City Living" a few weeks ago, this was the track that had the greatest impact for me. The right track for the right time. Its title is "Don't Lose Heart". It's beautiful and passionate and has been made into a video. Here is the video version of "Don't Lose Heart", with Rue Snider's background comments appearing further below:
I was very intrigued about how the song came to be and wanted to learn more of its background, so I asked Rue.
He explained that it had actually started out as a different song, but, as events in 2017 unfolded, felt that he had to rewrite the song to address the serious issues we're facing. Here's an excerpt from our email conversation last week.
The Women's March had happened. Trump was trying to ban Muslims. He was actively stripping rights away from minorities. My circle of friends and artists were outraged and beginning to take to the streets to protest. So I rewrote the lyrics with all of that in mind and "Don't Lose Heart" was born.
The single most important issue facing America in my mind is income inequality. I addressed that on my first record in a song called "Snowfall." That's the lens through which I was viewing all the other issues in the song as I was writing it. "The oligarchs smile/they traffic in fear to divide." The idea being that all this other stuff that's going on is a deliberate distraction to get us to take our eyes off the people at the top with the money who are pulling the strings. I was angry and the song addresses a lot of topics. The song is absolutely a Fuck You to the the President and every republican in power who supports his policies. But I wanted to be sure to end on an uplifting note, and I truly believe that many of the stands these powerful men take are designed to keep us fighting among ourselves so we don't pay attention to how they're profiting off of our subsistence and pain. The war machine cranks on because there is money to made from it. Not because of any principles or ideals. Guns remain legal not because of the second amendment, which most people on both sides of the debate understand wasn't designed to protect personal gun ownership but to protect the establishment of militias, but because there is a lot of money to made selling guns.
I mention Lucy Burns and Rosa Parks in the chorus to kind of hammer home the idea of women's rights being central to everything that's going on at the moment. I wanted to lend my voice to support women's equality.
I realize there's more nuance than what I'm describing, but I had to fit all of this into a 3 minute rock ballad. So "Don't Lose Heart." That's the story in a nutshell.
I think the song's title, "Don't Lose Heart" can have two meanings. One meaning can be a reassurance for us not to lose hope. Another can be an admonition not to lose love for others, but to be in solidarity with them ... because decency can't dance alone.
Rue Snider doesn't have any other shows coming up in our area in the near future, but here is the click to his Facebook page, so you can keep up with what he's doing as well as to get links to the new album: Rue Snider on Facebook (CLICK HERE).
p.s. ::: I write about the live shows in the order in which I've seen them. Weird timing when this song came along.