American Tune

Today, on July the 4th, I’ve been thinking of dear friends and family living in America.

Like Canada’s national holiday a few days ago, it is a day of pride in one’s nation and celebrating the vast and beautiful countries we live in. But it’s also a reminder of what European settlement here has cost the original inhabitants of North America; I already shared my thoughts on Canada Day on such matters as treaties. 

Indigenous people on both sides of the Canada-United States border are more likely to live in poverty than non-Indigenous citizens, and there are opposing views on causes of that. But, my firm belief is that it stems in largest part from uprooting families from their communities, and taking away their children to try to assimilate them in European culture and Christian religion (by erasing their culture and faith); just a few factors among others that have dispossessed a people from the land they honoured and were deeply connected to for many centuries.

Similarly, the Black population of America has, in many ways, continued to be seen as lesser than those whose ancestors forcefully brought them here as slaves, a cruel practice that was maintained for centuries.

“Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I’ve often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
But I’m all right, I’m all right
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home”

(from “American Tune,” by Paul Simon)

With all that turbulent political history, particularly in recent years, there is indeed much to be weary about. In my view, much of the devolution of society is tied to the rise of the Internet. While it has opened us to new ways to communicate and has brought innovation to many aspects of our lives, much of that communication is harsh, combative and hateful as one can see on a casual scroll through many Twitter conversations. It is pervasive, tearing away at the fabric of a civil society.

But today I’m choosing to think about and savour the many relationships Sweety and I have developed with people in the US. Some we’ve only been with once or twice though we share strong bonds. There are more we’ve only met online this year as a result of the coronavirus lockdown and the many efforts by helper organizations to reach out and link people up in virtual community, using what my dear Colorado friend calls “sacred technology” to create a space for gathering and supporting each other.

On the various Zoom calls we participate in through the week, we regularly hear from or get in touch with people from Colorado, Minnesota, California and other states. And though not through Zoom, we maintain connections with several friends in Connecticut, and have a nephew and partner in Ohio whom we are fortunate enough to see once in a while, a niece and husband whom we saw last year just before they moved to Hawai’i, and another nephew and wife in California, whom we were with just after my mum died.

They are all in our loving thoughts today and always.

As we mark the anniversaries of our countries being founded, I worry a lot about our world and a growing culture of hate that never seems far away. But at the same time, I have hope that we are all learning something, especially this year, through the complex and constant upheaval that is challenging our complacent views about what type of world we want, and not just as distinct countries around the globe, building barriers against each other.

The audio for today’s song is a cover; I often favour cover versions of songs, as you may have noticed if you follow this blog. Though the writers of songs have vision in creating them, I sometimes prefer the interpretations of other artists, noting the latter would not be possible without the former. (And I’ve mentioned before, one of our lads has been performing a series he calls Quarantine Covers, on Instagram. Check him out!)

Today’s cover of a Paul Simon composition comes from Eva Cassidy’s third posthumous album, also titled American Tune (2003). I also referred to today’s song in an earlier post where I reminisced about memories of sadness following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US. And I recently featured Cassidy’s rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” originally from the last album (of the same title) by Simon & Garfunkel.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from Eva Cassidy’s official YouTube channel

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