This week has seen me spinning like a top that just won’t stop. First came Juliana Hatfield’s official announcement of her long-awaited (by me, at least) ONJ tribute album…
… and then, yesterday, Courtney Marie Andrews released the title track of her forthcoming album, May Your Kindness Remain, which hits stores on March 23rd – a day before she plays the Boot & Saddle in South Philly. (Her seemingly never-ending tour continues, in other words.)
(To pre-order the album, head over to her Bandcamp page. It’s available as a download, limited-edition rose vinyl or CD.)
There’s much good to be said about the song, and NPR’s Brittany McKenna does just that, though her assessment that the “American Dream is becoming murkier by the day” is, I think, somewhat off. In truth, as a skim through history shows, the Dream has ebbed and flowed since the term was first popularized during the Great Depression. That decade-long economic downturn saw the unemployment rate rise to almost 25 percent – and in some parts of the country, double and triple that number. Some said the Dream was dead. Yet a generation – the Greatest Generation by every metric – soldiered on.
During the tumult of the 1970s, which included Kent State, Watergate, oil crises, double-digit inflation and rising unemployment, among other ills, there were also whispers that the Dream was over. And those whispers turned to shouts during the early 1990s, right around the time Philadelphia Inquirer journalists Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele published America: What Went Wrong, an excellent tome that detailed how the economic deck had been stacked against common folks during the prior decades.
And yet, just like a Dusty Rhodes wresting match, the Dream refused to give up or be pinned. He shook off the cobwebs, tossed the bad guy into the ropes and hit him with a bionic elbow when he bounced back. Times may be tough. They often are, and always are for someone, somewhere. But a comeback is, as it always is, mere moments away. If history teaches us anything, it teaches us that.
Hope and optimism are necessary ingredients in any and all ages, in other words. To quote former president Barack Obama, “Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it. Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.”
But to the song: “May Your Kindness Remain” bodes well for the album as a whole. I like the droning organ at the song’s start, the backing vocals, and the guitar that slices like a dull machete into the mix midway through. And, too, there’s Courtney’s impassioned vocals (which I can’t wait to hear live)…and the lyrics. What matters isn’t the money or things we accrue, though it’s better to have some than none, but the love, kindness and respect we accord one another. It’s the intangibles that count most in life.
Just my thoughts.