Anna Ash, Winner's Circle Video Session

Anna Ash, Winner’s Circle Video Session

One evening a few months ago, I got home from work, threw all my gear into a couple bags, and hopped in Anna Ash’s truck. She drove us down to Kalamazoo where we met up with Graham Parsons and shot the following video. In light of recent events, Anna asked me if she could put together some words to accompany the release of the video, and that’s what follows the video below.

Everything is very different now. Words have different meanings than they did before November 8th. This happens with language, or rather with art in general — a song or a poem or a piece is not a static thing. We recorded this performance in September, and I wrote this song a year ago when I was living out of my suitcase in El Sereno, working as a waitress, and getting dark as hell about class in this country.

At the time, the sentiment, “Don’t tell me you don’t feel just like I do,” made sense to me, whether it be directed at the lover in the song, or directed at all the rich people living in the hills of Los Angeles. Something about a common darkness, a common struggle, a human thread.

This phrase doesn’t make as much sense to me anymore. Maybe it will again someday, but right now, three weeks in, it doesn’t. Because one of the reverberating truths that keeps exposing itself in conversation is that no one is experiencing the results of this election in the same way — no one feels just like you do. Obviously this isn’t something that changed overnight, and obviously this reality was very much true a year ago, but now we have a huge, horrifying, fucked-up florescent light illuminating this truth like never before — our country is busted apart, not just in half, but into millions and millions of pieces, and we’re all kind of alone, on our own floating, freakish identity islands, trying to come to terms with everyone else.

We can argue ourselves into oblivion about what I’m saying here, or we can not, because my other hesitation in releasing work right now is that there is so much else to be done. Am I wasting time by even writing this? Maybe so, but I’m this far into writing it and you’re this far into reading it, so let’s save ourselves from that black hole and just say yeah, probably. Do I feel comfortable blasting my art into a world that’s both grieving and feverishly organizing? No, not at all, however, the implication in that hesitation is fucked. There’s no question that my songs about romance and money don’t hold the same gravitas as current events. I don’t think that means it’s time to stop writing songs, though.

If we all stop dicking around and go whole-hog activism right now, a lot would get done. But if we all stop being who we are — stop writing, stop painting, stop performing, stop playing chess with the neighbor, stop taking walks in the damn park — I wonder if we’d totally lose it, forget the point, forget why fighting matters, forget why staying alive matters, for ourselves, and all the millions of other terrified people out there who are fighting to stay alive. I’m not saying artists should kick back and shit out a few angry protest songs and call it a day — that’s not the equivalent of getting involved in our communities and fighting like all hell against the horrific political powers we’re now up against. We have to do both. We have to figure it out.

Our time means something different. Our work means something different. No matter what actually happens in the next few years, we can’t erase this dark moment in American history. And however the hell I figure out how to survive and make art and be an activist, is not going to be how anyone else figures it out — because I don’t feel just like you do. Giving that truth too much weight, though, is perhaps one of the biggest reasons we’re in this nightmare in the first place.

by Anna Ash