As I’m slowly writing songs for a new album, other outlets seem to be popping up, like the Walk a Mile campaign back in July we were asked to participate in. And last week I recorded a new song, called “Just to Win the Fight,” that I felt would be better off heading out into the world now, rather than waiting for an album release much later. You can listen and get the song for free right here.
See, it’s a presidential election year, which means that everywhere I look there seems to be a lot of poison going into the well. I am not a fan of the business of politics, but I am kind of a news junkie, so I find myself inundated with all of the election-year back-and-forth despite the taste it leaves in my mouth. It was probably inevitable, then, that I’d wind up writing some kind of song expressing my basic displeasure with all of the name-calling, truth-evading, and generally unenviable behavior on display in the run-up to November. We’ve reached the point where James Fallows in The Atlantic is lamenting our new post-truth era and people admit to not even trying to tell the truth on the campaign trail anymore, relying on the old lawyers’ trick of the jury not actually being able to disregard things they’ve heard, whether they’re in the official record or not.
It was with trepidation that I wandered into the political, but I mean, I’m a folk singer, it’s kind of my business to be outraged by stuff like this. From Woody Guthrie writing “This Machine Kills Fascists” on his guitar, Pete Seeger’s banjo inscription “This Instrument Surrounds Hate and Forces it to Surrender,” to Bob Dylan’s advocacy for Ruben “Hurricane” Carter’s freedom, the American folk tradition has always been to hold up a mirror and say “Guys, we can do better.”
I have two young kids, and it is with some regularity that we have discussions about telling the truth versus telling lies. I let them know I expect them to tell the truth, even if they’ve made a mistake, and even if there are going to be consequences. That’s the example I try to set for them. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask of our leaders. The truth is too valuable a thing to throw away just because we don’t want the other guy to win.
On a happier note, I’d like to point out that this song marks the recorded debut of my 12-string guitar and the (very) used banjo I found in my neighborhood music store. I hope you dig it.