Our artists see things before we do. They understand things we don’t. We should listen to them more carefully and more often. Almost no narrative to today’s blog, just the words of Bob Dylan, and the voices of Patti Smith and George Carlin — prescient, powerful, and inspiring.
First to set the stage for the Nobel Laureate, a two-minute video from George Carlin. Your jaw will drop at how precisely he understood the world so much sooner than most of us. George Carlin alert: if you are easily offended, you may not want to click here. But the man zeroes in on almost all that is wrong with this country. And you’d laugh throughout, if you were not so sad. Many of us were young then, we knew or had glimmerings of what he knew, and yet, we didn’t rise up and squash this injustice. The challenge is still greater now. So we turn to Bob.
Yesterday I entered Roxanne’s home office to find her in tears. She had just listened to Patti Smith sing Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall at the Nobel Prize ceremony. I have likely heard this song 5,000 times in my life and Patti Smith is not the best singer on earth, but I listened. Yes, she stumbled, apologized, stumbled again. But as I listened I felt as if I had never heard the song before. The lyrics were so powerful, so unadorned. How could anyone be only 21 years old and write these words? I share with you only the last verse, because I want you to see what our charge is for at least the next four years and most likely for the rest of our lives. While Patti Smith faltered, that actually makes the presentation even more powerful as she was overwhelmed with emotion. To hear her rendition, go here: A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall.
And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
Retake Our Democracy is working hard to develop our “song”–the scripts, the speaking points, and the opportunities to raise your voices. But we need a chorus of voices to sing it, cuz it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.