ISSN 1538-1080

9/11 and 11/9 – Six Songs About Two World-Changing Events

9/11 and 11/9 – Six Songs About Two World-Changing Events

I grew up deeply influenced by, and singing, the socially relevant songwriting of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, early Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and later the amazingly well crafted lyrics of the Canadian Stan Rogers. For half a century, theres been little popular interest in songs like these. Now, however, we face wholesale loss of consensus in Western democracies. Consider the gridlocked failure (in the US at least) to address social and economic inequality, refugee migrations, climate change, peak oil, and a massive extinction of speciesnot to mention the rise of what looks once again like fascism. Songs addressing these issues, and the often-glossed over or obfuscated realities behind them, rise thus once again into positions of possible importance. Insightful lyrics can be read as poetry in their own right, or listened to and sung as tuneful melodies. Dylan just won a Nobel prize for some. Its interesting that the World Trade Center in New York was attacked on what is remembered now simply as 9/11, and the 2016 election of Donald Trump happened on 11/9. These two dates bracket the Mayan New Year, but signal turning points more precipitous than December 21st, 2012. Here, then, are six song lyrics that arise around these tipping points to look deeper into the relevant issues. You can read them, or watch initial videos to hear them sung on you tube. A Fork in the Trail By Michael Reddy, PhD This song was written shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. It was part of a CD of songs by the same name still available on iTunes and YouTube. I had hoped they might help influence the direction of the US response at least somewhat in the direction of what is called soft power and awareness of the international inequalities that led to the event. These hopes were pretty much stillborn. Over the years, Ive changed the choruses slightly to reflect the fact that we continued in the same pattern of purely militaristic responses. So this version differs from the original. Theres a hole up in the sky Where airplanes used to fly Without fear of an evil intention As the smoke rose up so high Children asked us why And governments talked of prevention. The world that we thought Our might and money bought Perhaps it was not all for sale More had fallen down Than just rubble on the ground And we stumbled on a fork in the trail. Yes we stumbled on a fork in the trail. Debris then clogged the air Police and firemen stared At brothers and sisters gone forever. We stood reeling from the shock But still it broke the lock On lives that were not wise, but only clever. The world that we thought Our might and money bought Perhaps it was not all for sale More had fallen down Than just rubble on the ground And we stood then at a fork in the trail. Yes we stood then at a fork in the trail. Businesses slowed down Would Wall Street turn around? Consumers were asked to re-arrange things. Though maybe it was true We had to fight then too But thats all we did well, and did it change things? The world that we thought Our might and money bought Perhaps it was not all for sale More had fallen down Than just rubble on the ground We were gathered at a fork in the trail. Just walked blindly past that fork in the trail You can tell us what to buy But we hear the children cry Theres deeper dreams than wealth we must keep sacred. In the end were much the same We like to win lifes game But somethings wrong when souls fill up with hatred. The world that we thought Our might and money bought Perhaps it was not all for sale More had fallen down Than just rubble on the ground And we stood then at a fork in the trail Stumbled badly at that fork in the trail. Took the wrong road at that fork in the trail Copyright 2016 Michael Reddy How Would it Be? By Michael Reddy, PhD This song now asks what it might be like to be born, live, and grow old in a world where humans cared for themselves and their planet. The third verse asks whether such a world is even possible when our social empathy systems are stunted by the loss of embodied, physically present communication. In my seventies now, these lines come straight from my heart. As I look now back on a long life Its certainly been quite a ride Sometimes Ive been so damned happy Other times dying inside What makes growing older much harder Is watching the fall of our race Why are we so damned destructive Killing ourselves and this place How would it be to grow old in a world Where people cared for their Earth? What would it be like to live among people Who knew what a planet was worth Who thought of great grandchildren first We claim to find raw nature savage While raping and killing our own Who do we think we are kidding? How can we ever atone? Take a good look at your brothers Sisters and children have skin Just cause its not your same color Youre gonna bash their heads in How would it be to grow old in a world Where humans loved one another? Wouldnt it be better to die among people Who actually cared for each other Who knew how to share with each other We think were so super intelligent Alone with our shiny bright screens While high tech develops in robots Autonomous killing machines But your body talks lost when youre texting And empathy grows face to face You dont learn to come to consensus Tweeting in cold cyberspace How would it be to be born in a world Where humans still touched one another? Wouldnt you like []

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