1889, a concept album, pt. 2

here it is, folks. just in time to miss the grammys, i bring you the final installment of a project i never anticipated finishing. i’d like to thank taylor swift, for naming her album after a date, and, thus, rendering it so open for historical parody. i would also like to thank the special friends who have encouraged this since the beginning, when it was only the seed of a joke about an idea i secretly hoped would flourish. and i’d like to thank you, dear readers, for putting up with this madness. i promise it will all be over soon.

tts

***

when i left you last, ida b. wells was shake-shake-shaking off a whole load of racism and sexism to become one of the leading voices of the early civil rights movement. we pick up now with a look back at how the very lynch mobs wells disparaged were born in a cauldron of civil war, emancipation, and reconstruction.

track 8 – bad blood, ft. [not] kendrick lamar

it was not immediately apparent that i would have to change any of the lyrics to fit the regional strife of post-reconstruction america. for all intents and purposes, i could have left the words alone, and they still would have spoken for the times. however! that was not in the spirit of this project, so you will happily notice that i altered a thing or two. i tried my best to preserve kendrick lamar’s rhythm, but i am not a rapper. forgive me. i may have flown too close to the sun.

cw.jpg

baby, now we got bad blood
our union used to be mad love
so take a look at what you’ve done
cos, baby, now we got bad blood
(hey)

now we got problems
and civil war didn’t solve them
you made a really deep cut
and, baby, now we got bad blood
(hey)

we can’t take it back, look where we’re at
land of the free, we were to be, remember that?
we moved ahead progressively; you held us back
we went to war, brought out the corps, fought what we deplore
we don’t hate you, but we have to critique and berate you
the hearts of the freedmen used their votes to replace you
it’ll take time to erase you
racism beware, hate breeds that disrepair
moving on, you should have let love clear the air

oh, it’s so sad to think about the good times
you and i

baby, now we got bad blood
our union used to be mad love
so take a look at what you’ve done
cos, baby, now we got bad blood
(hey)

now we got problems
reconstruction won’t solve them
you made a really deep cut
and, baby, now we got bad blood
(hey)

remember when you tried to keep your slaves?
remember when you thought you’d misbehave?
don’t you remember?
you thought that I would need ya, give in to pressure, remember?
oh, no we fought for freedom
it was a season of battle wounds, battle scars, cannon balls, bruised, stabbed in the back
brimstone fire jumping through
still in the end we won the battlefield
and you gotta live with the bad blood now

oh, it’s so sad to think about the good times
you and i

baby, now we got bad blood
our union used to be mad love
so take a look at what you’ve done
cos, baby, now we got bad blood
(hey)

now we got problems
and we still haven’t solved them
you made a really deep cut
and, baby, now we got bad blood
(hey)

track 9 – wildest dreams

when i decided on the subject of this track, i’ll be honest, i barely knew nellie bly’s story. i knew she traveled around the world in 1889, and i thought that expedition mindset would go well with the random safari setting of the music video. what i learned about nellie bly: she was a journalist who was sick of writing about fashion and “ladies” things, so she took on incredible stories. she reported on a dictator in mexico. she got herself institutionalized so she could report on mistreatment of mental patients from the inside. she traveled around the world alone in 72 days. talk about wildest dreams. i’m gonna guess she lived hers.

bly

i said: i’ll get out of this town
head into the city
where a story can be found
i thought: heaven can’t help me now
i’m just a newswoman
but this is gonna take me down
it’s so cold, this place is like hell
food’s so bad, and it’s dark in my cell
i can see the end as it begins
my one condition is…

say you’ll remember me
as a brave reporter, and a truth crusader, hey
red lips and rosy cheeks
take me seriously, and watch me achieve all my wildest dreams (ah ah ah)
wildest dreams (ah ah ah)

i said: i want to travel on my own
i’ll go around the world, and do it all alone
pulitzer gave me the green light: nellie, you’re amazing
and this is getting good now
i’ll ride trains and send telegraphs
readers can follow me on their maps
and when i reach the final home stretch
that record’s mine at last

say you’ll remember me
in a sensible dress, sailing in the sunset, hey
red lips and rosy cheeks
take me seriously, and watch me achieve all my wildest dreams (ah ah ah)
wildest dreams (ah ah ah)

ten days in a mad house
i never had one doubt
got it done
and when i left blackwell
my written memoirs helped raise funds

told me to write fashion
that wasn’t my passion
burn it down
just cos i’m a lady
i shouldn’t have to
dream of gowns

say you’ll remember me
as a brave reporter, and a truth crusader, hey
red lips and rosy cheeks
take me seriously, and watch me achieve all my wildest dreams (ah ah ah)
wildest dreams (ah ah ah)

say you’ll remember me
in a sensible dress, sailing in the sunset, hey
red lips and rosy cheeks
take me seriously le, and watch me achieve all my wildest dreams (ah ah ah)
wildest dreams (ah ah ah)

track 10 – how you [save] the girl

jane addams founded hull house in 1889 with her buddy ellen gates starr. this was an era of the “new woman” that addams and starr hoped to promote. the idea was that, as we so proudly state today, “the future is female.” a better, more empathetic society was going to come on the wings of women, and the best way to do that was through solidarity. hull house promoted growth in the community by housing educated women and putting them to work, by supporting working class women and immigrants, and by providing classes and childcare.

IMG_20151026_190914

stand there like a ghost
shaking from the rain, rain
i’ll open up the door
and say, are you insane, -ane?

say it’s been a long six months
and you were exploited and worked until you broke down

and that’s how it works
it’s how i’ll save the girl

and then I’ll say
we’ll help you turn worse into better
learn a new skill, show them you’re clever
child care, we’ll tackle this together
push for reforms, it’s now or never

and that’s how it works
it’s how i’ll save the girl, girl, oh
and that’s how it works
it’s how i’ll save the world, world

you know we have civic duties
we could go far if we could just speak
tell them that we hadn’t lost our minds
when we started up a house that would serve womankind

and that’s how it works
that’s how i’ll save the world

and now you say
playgrounds, housing, what could be better?
peace and kindness unto one another
we worked hard, to pull it all together
hull house always strives to empower

and that’s how it works
it’s how i’ll save the girl, girl, oh
and that’s how it works
it’s how i’ll save the world, world, yeah

track 13 – clean

in the late 19th century, richard henry pratt coined the phrase “kill the indian…and save the man.” pratt was the founder of the carlisle school in pennsylvania, which strove to assimilate native people into white american culture. children were taken from their families on reservations and brought to boarding schools where their hair was cut and their clothes were exchanged for western fashions. they were forbidden to speak their native language, and when they were returned to their families, they no longer belonged. activist zitkala-sa (red bird) was a souix woman who was educated in an indian school in the late 1880s and used her english education to promote native rights. 

zitkala-sa

the drought was the very worst
when the mem’ries that i had of home, they died of thirst
it was months and months of loneliness
my culture has become like a wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore

hung my head as I lost the war
and the sky turned black like a perfect storm

rain came pouring down as i was crying
because they cut off my hair
and by morning gone was any trace of home
they said i was finally clean

there was nothing left to do
when they threw me into the dust that covered my whole room
and said to speak my language was taboo
english words carry away all the legends i knew

the silence filled my lungs, i fought so hard but no one rescued me

books were my escape when i was drowning
reading helped me learn to breathe
and by morning, i knew i could rise above
pratt can’t kill the red bird in me

stories were my rope when i was sinking
writing helped me connect the dots
and by morning, i knew i could rise above
pratt can’t kill the red bird in me

***

when i began this project, i had no idea that 1889 was such an action-packed year. where i expected a dearth of subject matter, i found i had too many ideas to feasibly put on paper. even now, i wonder about the tracks i neglected to parody. could i do something on andrew carnegie’s gospel of wealth? what about huckleberry finn? perhaps, this is not the final installment, after all…

all i know is that i am exhausted, but i learned some really cool stuff, and i hope you did, too. thanks for listening–errr….reading.

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