American Kid – Carsie Blanton

As we walk through the twilight of the year 2020, I doubt you will find anyone who is sad to see this year fade away. It has been vastly different than any one we have ever lived before, it has taken so much and given extraordinarily little. We all held our breath, as the votes were counted and now, here we are. A nation divided so deeply that regardless of your belief or convictions, we are simply divided.  The question that keeps rolling around in my head is how do we move forward?

“I was once an American kid
Growing up on hallowed ground
Rode to the river on a pretty red horse
In a pretty little country town”

I grew up amidst rural America, or at least a certain flavor of that. I was taught with rigor and fear on how you should believe, and some days, I believed it.  It surprises me even today at how much of those early conversations I watched and consumed. I was taught there is a savior and there is evil, and you will choose one or the other. These things are deep, they were spoken into you before you have memory… When you wake up one day and the world looks like everything described in the book of Revelations… you will look for the savior. It seems so incredibly sedentary when I think of those lessons. You look for your savior, that is what all of us do.  There are millions of our fellow Americans looking around and trying to figure out what is good and what is evil. They are choosing, and once someone has chosen a belief that they decide is theirs… they will defend it to their death.

“But I grew up fast, and I cast my vote
For the president
And I had my doubts, but I still had hope
Until I read the finer print”

I discovered Carsie Blanton while I was working through my “what now” musings. I am truly hopeful about how our government might start working for the people who fund it, but they can’t save us, only we can. Carsie’s music landed in my lap via a song she released about fishing with John Prine, “Fishin’ With You” . Yeah you really should start with that one, then take a stroll through her beautiful catalog of music. I found “American Kid” on her latest album, “Buck Up”. It was utter joy when I heard “American Kid” and realized that yet again I had found the magic. A song written just for my moment in time that will help me find the strength and hope to believe we can do this… God help the American kid… I am that kid.

“We stole this nation, fair and square
And a whole lot of people in chains
But it was all for the glory of God, I swear
And the glory of capital gains”

Part of the division that exists today is the fear that good ole uncle sam will turn into something other than white. I have sat in the pew when the preacher dismissed the raping of this land and justified it by saying we are the blessed ones whom God ordained to “own” this land…God help the American Kid, there is a reckoning happening right now, the white anger and the white rage you see around is that very fear of being caught and having that taken away.  Those of you that say it is too late for reparations are of the same ilk, we stole this nation and put a whole lot of people in chains. All of this starts with me, I am the only one who can be responsible for my choices, can I change your mind, probably not, but I am responsible for my own and I will own it.

“They’re gonna wonder what we did”

What did you do? What did I do? Once I accepted the reality of my privilege, there were many ways that I worked to find my voice and speak for those less privileged.  But I am not sure I changed a thing, so I write, I believe in the power of music. I know for a certainty that if you listen to artists like Carsie, you will be moved. No one can change your mind for you, it must come from you.

You may be agonizing over the sentiments of that loved one who rages against the erosion of whiteness is this nation, you can’t change them, you can only love them. So, love them and when they are looking for an answer, honestly looking, they will see you….

“All the little kids all around the world
Some have and others don’t
God loves all the boys and girls
God knows America won’t
I hear them holler in my head
Can you hear that lonesome sound?
Well it may be true that we made our bed
But I ain’t taking it lying down”

As I ponder this, I can only conclude that for some, there is no path forward, for others there is only a bitter narrow road that leaves them no hope and yet for others they see nothing but possibilities. I do not see myself on any of those roads, I do have hope but that does not come from the result of an election. It comes from within me, it is a belief that if I am honest and listen, I can learn and then grow. Hope for me is a product of growth, if I continue to grow then I will continue to have hope.

Who do you know that is not scared right now? Is there really anyone, regardless of whether you believe the pandemic will just disappear or whether you believe it will claim you. Each one of us is scared. It is that fear that is driving so many, to lash out and hurt those around them. My heart ached the other day when a regular at my local grocery store gig lost his cool and lashed out at me for telling him that we had a line to get in. I wasn’t mad that he lost his shit or that he made a scene, I was sad because he is losing his hope, and at that very time when he needed it, I couldn’t give him any. We are all scared…

“Don’t look now, but it won’t be long
They’re gonna wonder what we did
And we’ll have to admit that we done them wrong
God help the American kid
Oh, God help the American kid”

I am scared just like everyone else, but my fear is not a fear of the government or from the other half of the country that voted differently than me, my fear is from those who just don’t care to understand. We all have a story. Every single one of us and until we are ready to sit down and learn our neighbors’ story, we should stop expecting them to understand ours.  It is knowing these stories that will really open this land and start us toward healing. This won’t happen tomorrow or probably not even next year, but we must start walking towards it. Stop investing in the things we believe will enrich us and start investing in each other, it really is that simple. The challenge is doing it… If we don’t, well then shame on us…

You need to take a swim through this magician’s catalogue, find a quiet afternoon, put your headphones on and spend some quality time with Carsie Blanton, she is a magician. There are a few rare opportunities to meet greatness, this is one. Carsie probably eats bass players for lunch, but I would gladly be an entrée for her perusal… shit, she is the real thing.

Listening, learning, and growing…

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