"The Poor Live in Two Places."
This album was inspired by 3 sources.
One was John Steinbeck's eloquent work, "The Grapes of Wrath." The person and spirit of the fictional Tom Joad still serves as a spark to the conscience and a beacon of justice to us. The second inspiration was a gift from Muriah, a photographic essay, called, "Bound For Glory" (America In Color 1938-1943) It is an arresting testimonial. Field photographers were sent out by The Farm Security Administration (later the Office of War Information) into parts of the country devastated by the Great Depression. Their job was to record and capture on Kodachrome film lives of Americans on Eastman-Kodaks new film. Their images of "just plain Americans," I believe, are some of the most heroic and inspiring you'll ever see.
The last inspiration was a gift as well.
It was a gift from the American people. It came from the folks I've played over these past 22 years. This land & it's great people have always been the frame of reference of my work, from the day I first crawled into an rattle-trap van to do my first US tour in 1991. They, and their stories and lives, have been inspiring me ever since.
As a rambling songwriter/troubadour, it has been my privilege to meet and converse with folks from all walks of life. I've been made privy to their stories, their dreams, their struggles and their grief. It comes, as they say, "with the territory." Often they wore the face of the poor, the disheartened and disenfranchised. Sure, I played my shows. But I also "took notes."
I learned much by observation & reflection. I learned that the economic systems that glorify the independent, aggressive and savy "virtues" of the American businessman often fail to mention that every successful empire builds it's wealth and power and prestige on the backs of the poor, the meek, the less privileged.
And just like all the books I loved as a youth reported: Among the poor, there was a faith, a heroism and a day-to-day "true grit" that seemed like a grace from God. Rarely did they complain. Rarely did they "give up."
And always they seemed to love each other and find something good in everyone.
And so here's the kicker:
The "poor" live in two places: The first place isn't hard to miss: In every ghetto, on every "poor side of town," on every "wrong side of the track," you'll find them. The poor are all around us. Even Jesus said, "the poor you will always have with you..."
But the poor also live inside of us. We are them. They are a reminder that a man is not the measure of his possessions. They remind us that it is not by our own hands that we attain & succeed in this world as much as we'd like to believe otherwise. Indeed, they remind us that our souls are not so full and that our spirits are not so at peace.
Those things (our precious souls & our spirits) daily need nurture, a kind word, and grace. Even if it's the grace we must extend to ourselves.
The poor remind us that it is still a world of grave injustice and a world where there is so much yet to be done. So many wounds to bind up, so many broken thing to be set straight. Would that God would grant us all grace begin to hear their cries more clearly and respond with our hearts...and hands.
Because often the "poor"are already "on the way." Because for them, in spite of their best intentions, life is a crucible. Not one they chose, but (for whatever reasons) one handed to them. It is one in which they have frequently begun to manifest those curious attributes of "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control." Everything that makes us truly human. Everything that brings forth (to quote President Lincoln) "the better angels of our natures."
These are things they can't teach or compel in schools. Things learned in the hard scrabble of life. Things regal,
bill mallonee March 2012
released 09 March 2012
Bill Mallonee: 6 string, 12 string & nylon string guitars, vocals, harmonicas, drums, songs
Muriah Rose: pianos, vocals
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