Here's a sampling of the stories behind a few of the tracks on the record in which the subject matter seems like it's been ripped straight from today's newspaper (or blog, cable news channel or internet news site, or wherever else you consume your propaganda - - sorry, I mean news.)
"The Old Country" was first introduced to me through my listening to my FAVORITE saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderly (my favorite saxophonist other than my husband, of course!) with the fabulous Nancy Wilson. So many here in America immigrated from somewhere else and struggled to carve out a place in our society. The SCOTUS ruling last week on the Arizona law is but the most recent reminder of how visceral and raw the issue of immigration - - both of the legal and illegal varieties - - continues to be in the US. But throughout Europe as well, a simmering subtext to the ongoing financial crisis has been the challenge the northern Euro zone countries face in assimilating recent immigrants, particularly those from eastern europe and the middle east. My brother's production on my version of "The Old Country" morphs the traditional jazz standard into modern electronica, mimicking the process that the children of immigrants have to go through in order to survive here: to be a part without being a part. On this track, for me the music tells the story -- and the story tells the music.
One of my favorite songs on the record, "H-U-M-A-N", deals with what it means to be a human being. Originally, I wrote this song in response to the casual disregard I perceive many Americans have for the lives of the inhabitants of the middle east during our wars there. But the song really touches on the frustration that I feel about why we treat each other the way we do. Why is it OK for some to have health care and not others? Whom should be the final arbiter of who gets life saving treatment and who doesn't? Aren't we our brother's keeper?! Or are some of us valued above others, even today in 2012?! Über drummer Terreon Gully channelled the spirit of Elvin Jones and simply DESTROYS this song (not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good! - RUN DMC, circa 1985)
I wrote "Depression" because I know what it feels like to not be able to physically move when you're mentally drained. People tell you you should be grateful for what you have but when you feel really down that can be hard to do; how do you pick yourself up? How do you keep moving? It's rough out there these days. There are people who've been searching for work for more than two, three years! It's hard to stay positive when you can't pay the bills. It's hard to be thankful when you're literally not sure if you'll ever work again, or if your life can ever be 'normal' again. Depression is real and it's invasive. My homegirl, the mega-talented Ursula Rucker, graces the track with a poignant bit of her trademark word craft.
There are many, many other stories on the record, and I will share more of them here on the blog in the days and weeks to come. That's one big reason why I started the blog in the first place - - because there was too much to say to put on just one record. Too much to say to stay in one genre. Too much going on. It feels like the world is burning, like we're surrounded by insanity, hence, the name of the blog. And what am I going to tell my kids about what's going on around them because they actually did ask, "Mommy….What's a Depression?"