jealouscellist

Musings of an Ethnomusicologist on Unrelated Topics

Shall the Desert Rejoice and Blossom?

I wrote a song some years back when I volunteered for a year on the U.S.-Mexico border with humanitarian issues related to immigration. A group of us walked the 70 miles between Sasabe, Sonora, MX, and Tucson, Arizona, amid 100 degree heat on a brutal and deadly route many migrants from Latin America take to enter the United States.

Spending that time in the desert, I reflected a great deal on the history of the place – from its status as Holy ground for Native Americans in the region, through the Mexican-American war where much blood was spilled to negotiate colonial territory, until our recent era where hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – have lost their lives in pursuit of a better life. When faced with its reality, one is overcome by the futility of political borders, the hoarding of space and opportunity for the powerful few, and the tortuous loss of human life in that desert violates and debases our sacred duty to honor one another as humans.

I wrote this song to tell the story of the border region from the vantage point of the desert. Today, the Christian Advent lectionary conveys a message of hope from the prophet Isaiah that “the desert shall rejoice and blossom as a rose. […] Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs.” For all the migrants in the desert today and every day, this message of hope is very basic and real – the metaphor and poetry take on a graphic substance.

We yearn for this message of hope in the reality that the desert innocently claims needless life because of a political reality that we’ve chosen to create and perpetuate – the desert reminds us how we too often stand idly by as our brothers and sisters suffer and die. So, this is a song for that. For Advent. But mostly for change.

Just as a note: I don’t feel at all detached from this humanitarian crisis, and absolutely do not want to debate this politically. I won’t be responding to any politicized statements.

The title links to a Youtube video.

 

“All Your Noise Has Silenced Me”

Dear friends, I ache to tell a story, I’ve known this nation’s ancestors well

I still sit with their souls as their bones became my soil

And when I bloom, you can still smell their tears

And when I bloom, you can still smell their tears

 

Dear friends, I remember a time when we ate and slept and sang like family

Your faces of chocolate brown, we summoned God into my ground

Warm and united, we were blessed there

Warm and united, we were blessed there

 

But your guns, they came and they destroyed my lovers

Your noise conquered my quietude

And my back became their tomb with my prickly pear in bloom

And my sand grew stiff with blood and tears

And my sand grew stiff with blood and tears

 

Your guns they’ve silenced me

Your tanks they’ve silenced me

Your walls have silenced me

All your noise has silenced me

All your noise has silenced me

 

Dear friends, I bleed to tell my story, but my whispers seem to have no place

And while your cities conquer me, you’ve divorced the God in me

And to deny your kin you hide your face

And to deny your kin you hide your face

 

Dear friends, you brothers started coming, started running through my lonely fields

First 100 at a time, then 10 thousand beating time

They overwhelmed me with their bleeding heels

They overwhelmed me with their bleeding heels

 

Dear friends, please know I didn’t mean to harm them, this hermit could not hold them well

My spines dug deep into their flesh as they ran thirsty, out of breath

And some were left alone to groan in fear

And some were left alone to groan in fear

 

Your guns they’ve silenced me

Your tanks they’ve silenced me

Your walls have silenced me

All your noise has silenced me

All your noise has silenced me

 

Dear friends, I thought I’d never see the day when brother Jesus passed away

And when no family came, I tried to cover up his face

I swallowed him as gently as I could

I swallowed him as gently as I could

 

Dear friends, they never stopped running – 10,000 now have gone away

And my back is now their tomb and in their memory I bloom,

And when it rains, you can still smell their tears

And when it rains, you can still smell their tears

 

Dear friends, I never will recover, their desperate cries have become my voice

And the true terror, it seems, is this American dream

My brothers run toward your florescent lights

Your brothers die for your florescent lights.

 

Your guns they’ve silenced me

Your tanks they’ve silenced me

Your walls have silenced me

All your noise has silenced me

All your noise has silenced me

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This entry was posted on December 15, 2013 by .
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