By Jennifer DiSilvio
This past week has been the most difficult one I can ever remember in this country in my lifetime. Already in the midst of a global pandemic, which left us the hardest hit nation in the entire world , we were forced to witness yet another cold blooded murder at the hands of a police officer on a black man. Our President and his minions, who hold a very large responsibility for the extent of the Covid19 outbreak, due to ineptitude and denial and dismissal of both the human cost and the medical evidence, have quite literally begun shooting rubber bullets at peaceful protestors and spraying them with Tear gas , all so he can stand in front of a building he never enters, holding a book he never reads, to appease his evangelical base. As this nation mourns the loss of well over 100,000 Americans, in financial crisis that we haven’t seen since the Great Depression, while being led by a power hungry administration that will seemingly stop at nothing to get the power they so desperately crave, human lives be damned, we are all a crossroads. As so many of us finally, finally, begin to accept and admit that we are a nation rife with violence and racism and inequality that we must rise up against with ever fiber of our beings, the cost to our mental health has been great. So many of us quite literally feel as if we are drowning in despair, disbelief and rage. Yesterday, with the release of the first song from his upcoming album “Blue Hearts”, Bob Mould threw us all a life preserver.
“American Crisis” is more than just another release from one of my favorite artists. It’s a glorious revolution . From the very first seconds of this song, which begins with Bob’s guttural howl, it’s understood that you’d better hold on tight. For those of you familiar with Bob, you understand that his music has always been full of darkness . I include his last release, “Sunshine Rock” in that same mix, because despite a few more upbeat tunes, it was hard to miss the duality of Bob’s emotions. Even behind a catchy riff, Bob can shine a light on the dark and break your heart all while your toes are tapping along to the music. This duality has always been one of the things that has made Bob great.
Through Bob’s career we have always heard the subtle and not so subtle expressions of his anger . But I don’t think we’ve seen it reach this level since 1990’s “Sacrifice/Let There Be Peace.” From the album “Black Sheets of Rain” or quite possibly even the pinnacle of his rage in “JC Auto” from Sugar’s 1993 masterpiece, “Beaster”.
When we went see Bob at a couple of shows back in February, it became quite clear that instead of tempering it, this time his anger has been fully unleashed. As Bob spoke to the audience, almost pleading with us to understand his words, it became clear . A gay man who watched his friends die one by one during the AIDS epidemic while the government continued to marginalize and put blame on the LGBT community, all while stoking hate, division and fear, all while seemingly taking no responsibility for the ineptitude and inhumanity of how that crisis was handled. Sound familiar? And what Bob tried to tell us, was that we are in the midst of this kind of division and hate all over again. And that this time, as a man coming close to 60, he would never sit back and allow his silence to ever again make him complicit. He urged us to vote. To stand up. To fight. And made it quite clear to that if we were one of them, we stood against everything he held dear. It was the first time I heard “American Crisis” and I stood in the audience and wept at the glory of it.
On this track, Bob addresses the unfathomable hypocrisy of certain Christian evangelicals that are still supporting this President, despite anything and everything. The “Evangelical Isis” Bob refers to is so staggeringly anti-humanity, anti- inclusion and anti-peace, that they, like our President, are about as worthy and deserving of standing in front of a church and holding a bible as the devil himself, if you believe in such things. And that they, along with a certain group of power hungry white men in our government, are willing to sacrifice the very lives of anyone who doesn’t think exactly the way they do. And even some that do if it gets in the way of their agenda. The “pro-life “ crowd willing to sacrifice the ill, the elderly, the black community and the immigrant community, just like they did to the gay men back in the 80’s.
Of course, when writing this song, Bob could not have imagined how prophetic it would be. And how much we would all need a battle cry to help us stand up. Step up. And take this country back. As Bob says. “If you’re not one of us, you’re one of them. And if you’re one of them, don’t come near me again.” . Thank you , Bob. We are heeding your battle cry with everything we’ve got.