January 13th - Raimon: Catalonian Protest Songs

I don't think it's a gross exaggeration to say that we've all got the fear right now.

The current situation that US citizens find ourselves in is unthinkably beyond precident. A deeply unfit, possibly compromised man is about to become the most powerful human being on the planet. There is no indication that his whims will be checked from any quarter; instead, Republicans are working late into the night to strip healthcare from millions of Americans, all in the name of a tax break for the 400 wealthiest families in the US - people who are already rich beyond belief. The incoming administration has already illustrated that they do not believe in our basic, constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms, and features open fascists and blatant bigots. I am not trying to be histrionic - unfortunately, nothing I am saying here is anything other than a recitation of the facts.

I don't know what we can do to make this right; I don't know what we can do to survive the next four years. Please call your representatives, please go to protests and marches, please become involved with local political groups - those are the only things I can think to do, to keep myself from panicking. 

One thing I am also doing is writing this blog. I am trying to remind myself and others that our government can do good things - can preserve our culture and stand against the logic of "market forces" that make our world so much more boring. I'm trying to remember, with a lot of these albums, that countless marginalized people have suffered and worked and died to make our world a better place, and it's now my turn.

I was going to wait to do this album a bit later on, but frankly it was the only thing I wanted to listen to today. This is an album of, well, Catalonian protest songs, sung by a man who was banned from singing in his own country by the fascist dictator Francisco Franco. But - either because of the effects of censorship or because this was just how Raimon did, these songs aren't the specific political screeds that you might expect. These are songs about fighting the fear inside yourself that authoritarians depend on, about refusing to accept the status quo. These songs are like self-care for the revolutionary.

The first two songs, Sobre La Por and Contra La Por, are specifically about how fear is used to stifle dissent and to allow lies to pass as truth, and are the major reason I wanted to write about this album:

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 10.12.39 AM.png

But I really want to share the rousing ending song, which offers I think maybe the easiest litmus test for people to find out where they are actually at, politically. I'm a firm believer that we cannot have progress unless we can imagine the world that we are progressing to - we have to know what we want to know what to reject, and I believe this song speaks to that.

I have no idea what these next four years are going to hold - but I know that these songs will help me endure them and stand up for the world I want to belong to.

Click here to read liner notes and purchase this album from Smithsonian Folkways