Why not just ban everyone and everything? You can’t be safe if you don’t, right? Your chair could break under your weight and you’d fall to the floor and you could get a splinter from the wood in your wrist and that could get infected with some sort of bacteria and then that infection left untreated, because, well, no healthcare, could spread and spread and spread all over every part of your body and then it could become airborne and leak into other peoples’ eye sockets and they’d be infected.
See what I’m saying. Ban chairs, splinters, bacteria, breathing on other people. Just make it all illegal. Put us all in prison. Build walls around us. Chain us to the roof of a car. Do whatever you have to do. Just don’t let any of us people out into the world. WE ARE DANGEROUS.
Anyway, here’s a song about that.
This new one uses some elements of a couple other songs I’ve recorded (this one and this one), as well as this Woody Guthrie one. It’s nice that I can go back to songs I wrote 7 years ago and just take themes and ideas and update them just a little bit. Takes almost no time or effort on my part. Kind of wish that wasn’t the case, though. Kind of wish I wasn’t updating songs about being left behind and shut out and kicked down and dragged around.
Oh, and if you can’t read between the lines, this song is dedicated to Donald Trump, a piece of rotted chair cushion foam left out in the back alley during a week when it rained for 6 days straight. Fuck that guy and his whole entire administration.
When a wall goes up there’s so many ways to get to the other side. You can go over it, under it, break it down and go through it, jump it, fly it, pole vault it. Doesn’t even matter if it’s a border wall or a house wall or a city wall or a hotel wall or a wall in your head or heart. Just bust on through.
I’ve been think about this song for a long while now. Not just days and weeks and months, but years. It’s a old Carter Family tune that I first heard probably about a decade ago. Their tune is called Over the Garden Wall. Ten years ago I was thinking a lot about immigration. A lot about Mexico and all the countries south of Mexico. I wrote one called On the Banks of the Old Rio Grande. And another called Brown-skinned Woman. And I started reworking this one, replacing garden wall with border wall. Just fits good. But I must have gotten distracted or something because I never finished it or recorded it.
Who knew, 10 years later…
And, of course, now I’ve been thinking about it again. With so much talk the past months about building a damn wall between the US and Mexico how could I not. Locking people out. Locking people in. I didn’t really need to change much from the Carter Family version. I did almost changed the line “while the old feller was snoring asleep” to “while the old feller was writing a tweet” but I felt that was too easy a jab. And also only pointed a finger at one man. If a wall goes up who’s fault is it really? Some bigot elected official? Some racist sheriff? Someone else? You? Me? Has nothing been done in 10 years? In 20 years? In 200 years? Who’s fault is that?
If a wall gets built, climb it. Both ways. Then move the Statue of Liberty to the mouth of the Rio Grande and let everyone in and out.
Like a very wise man once said:
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
-Woody Guthrie, This Land Is Your Land