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Tuesday, September 06, 2005 

New Orleans

Music can have far reaching and at times utterly bizarre impacts on the human mind. Songs are often times some of the strongest touchstones for many people, experiences that can magically transform a horrible day into a few minutes of peace that was unimaginable only moments before. In similar fashion certain songs can smash even the most well constructed facade of strength in the face of horror that is utterly beyond human conception.

One such song for me is Left and Leaving, the title track to former punk rock guitarist par excellence John Samson's Canadian rock band The Weakerthans' 2000 LP. This song will always remind me of the day I went with friends to see Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream. Driving home afterwards I had to park the car for close to half and hour and attempt to process the flood of emotion the movie's ending and this song had forced into the open. A good friend of mine had just been raped, and I hadn't given my feelings on the matter anything close to enough attention. The whole time I sat there I could not stop myself from listening to that song over and over agian.

Following 9/11 I read several blog posts that cited lyrics from that very song and couldn't help feeling the power of its painfully simple cords and lyrics. As I sit here at work trying to think of anything but the crime against humanity that was allowed to happen in southern Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana, this song comes ringing from my office computer, unexpected and as emotionally powerful as any picture of flood waters, children chanting "help" or the seething hatred I feel every time Bush has another goddamn press conference has been. In an eerie way, its words and sounds explain my feelings of loss and sorrow for a city I've never visited and a people that this government has proven without a shadow of a doubt that due to class and white privilege I have never been in full communion with.

Demands for self-determination for this Black-belt nation ring truer now than at any point in my short lifetime. I can't hope to make it through the day and be abe to provide any analysis more robust than this right now. There are plenty of good pieces out there, one I would point folks at is Stan Goff's full piece of the devastation available here on his blog.

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