Announcing the release of a new video to launch my “Energize the Vote” campaign. And I also share a new song – a lullaby I wrote for my new twin grandchildren (and you!) You can find it all in the kitchen. Come on in!
NEWS: Energize the Vote
THIS MONTH’S MUSIC: “I’ll Show You the Way (a lullaby)”
FEATURED NON-PROFIT: Movement Voter Project
Photo: Dan Tappan (2019)
News: Energize the Vote
“I’ Do the Best I can” © 2020 Tom Smith (ASCAP)
Paintings and animation by Lisa Bastoni.
I am thrilled to share this wonderful video with paintings and animation by my friend, Lisa Bastoni. I am using this video to encourage folks to register and vote. Click for the official launch of my Energize the Vote campaign.
This week, we mourn the death of John Lewis, civil rights activist and US congressman. In his farewell letter, published in the New York Times, he wrote, “Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.” […] “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society.”
On the Energize the Vote launch page, you will find links to check your voter registration, apply to vote by mail, and ways to support or join organizations working to elect candidates who support positive social change, racial justice, fair elections, climate action and wealth disparity at the national and state levels.
This Month’s Music: “I’ll Show You the Way (a lullaby)”
“I’ll Show You the Way” © 2020 Tom Smith (ASCAP)
Lyrics in the comments below.
Margo and I are very excited to welcome new twin girls born to our son Andrew and his wife, Christine. Andrew took this photo a couple weeks ago. I can remember taking the exact same photo of my thumb under his toes in 1982. Needless to say, along with our excitement and joy, we are struggling to accept that we are not likely to meet and hug these new grandchildren, their big brother and parents until the twins are one year old. They live in Switzerland, and travel is not possible until a vaccine is widely available.
Coincidentally, I am working with several musician friends on what we are calling The Know Better Do Better Project. The name was inspired by this Maya Angelou quote – “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I will share more about this project when we are ready to go public, but the basic idea is to encourage the writing of alternatives to well-known songs that may either contain overt racist or objectionable language, or songs that may not be objectionable as currently sung but have a context or history that is problematic.
My assignment was to write an alternative to Old Folks at Home (Swanee River), by Stephen Foster. Thinking about our new twin grandchildren and the emotional quality of that song, I decided to write a lullaby. I used the original’s rhyme scheme and melodic structure (not the same melody), and borrowed from the original’s themes of family, lost innocence and comfort. The goal is not to write new words to the old song, but to write a completely new non-derivative work.
Pete Seeger used to describe lullabies as work songs. Clearly, their primary function is to encourage babies to sleep. However, as I think back on my days of singing lullabies to our children, an equally important outcome was to settle my own chaotic and busy mind – to bring peace to the singer. With this in mind, the theme of “lost innocence” plays an important role in my song as I imagine the singer uneasy about the world in which their child will grow up.
“This I know with all my heart
It may seem far away
But light will always follow dark
And I’ll show you the way.”
Steady on, my friends!
(If so inclined, I invite you to leave a comment by scrolling to the end of this page.)
Movement Voter Project “works to strengthen progressive power at all levels of government by helping donors – big and small – support the best and most promising local community-based organizations in key states, with a focus on youth and communities of color.”
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