The Joke

I didn’t start this blog to highlight news of the day; far from it. If anything, it’s about reflecting on memories that music evokes in me. But today’s song has been on my “to do” pile for since first purchasing it. It was one of the 25 songs I shopped for a few weeks ago, as referred to on January 13, 2020 (about going to record stores), and on January 23, 2020 (about “Shazaming” and then later buying songs or albums on iTunes). I likely first heard it on KEXP Seattle.

Nonetheless, listening while scrolling through my collection this morning, I couldn’t help but think how some of the lyrics of this song were relevant to yesterday’s verdict in the Harvey Weinstein trial. The convicted rapist became a symbol of the #MeToo movement. While the review of allegations went on for so long that some may have wondered if a court could ever reach a definite conclusion, his victims might now feel some sense of vindication: a small but critical piece of the long healing process.

“You get discouraged, don’t you, girl?
It’s your brother’s world for a while longer
We gotta dance with the devil on a river
To beat the stream
Call it living the dream, call it kicking the ladder
They come to kick dirt in your face
To call you weak and then displace you
After carrying your baby on your back across the desert
I saw your eyes behind your hair
And you’re looking tired, but you don’t look scared

Let ’em laugh while they can
Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends
And the joke’s on them”

(from “The Joke,” by Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth)

I’m aware of at least one instance where the movement was used to ostracize and punish a good person for no reason other than spitefulness, and that’s a serious issue not to overlook; any cause can go in a wrong direction when the intent is malicious. And the results can be catastrophic in this world where people are hyper-connected through the internet and its many tools for propagating hurt.

For now, though, I’m encouraged that in most cases, the shining of bright lights on evil acts happens through people coming forward, whether to expose those who hurt them personally, or to expose the many kinds of abuses of power that are committed by some in high places of power. As with the mantra, “remember the victims, not the shooter” often used concerning incidents of gun violence, hopefully, the vulnerability shown by victims truthfully and courageously sharing their stories will be what inspires us all to be better humans.

The song’s two verses address male and female genders; mostly inclusive and, in my opinion, they make the statement that we can all be hurt, regardless of the exteriors we display.

A friend recently asked for examples of anthems, or what makes an anthem. To me, today’s song is an anthem that can be claimed by all gender identities, telling them that, “I hear you, I know you’re hurting, and it’s going to be okay. Claim your space — no matter what anyone says, you belong here.”

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today.

I’m interested to know your thoughts on what I’ve shared. And any songs that helped you to recover from injustice. Please leave a comment, if you’d like to.

Here’s the official video from Brandi Carlile’s YouTube channel:

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