Anaïs Mitchell: Why We Build the Wall

My introduction to Anaïs Mitchell was her song “Why We Build the Wall,” part of the folk opera Hadestown (inspired by the myth of Orpheus and set in depression-era America). This song in particular jumped out and grabbed me when I first heard it — here’s the last section:

What do we have that they should want?
We have a wall to work upon!
We have work and they have none
And our work is never done
My children, my children
And the war is never won
The enemy is poverty
And the wall keeps out the enemy
And we build the wall to keep us free
That’s why we build the wall
We build the wall to keep us free
We build the wall to keep us free

I later got to hear Anaïs on NPR singing from her album Young Man in America. I couldn’t stop thinking about the first song she sang, “Shepherd”:

I was thinking about her music today and decided to get her latest album, xoa. It’s a lovely solo album with some new and some older songs (including “Why We Build the Wall”) — my biggest challenge will be turning it off when I’m trying to work so I don’t get distracted by the beautiful lyrics.

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The language and poetry of Stuart Davis

Stuart Davis has been one of my favorite singer-songwriters for many years. His lyrics are clever and thoughtful (and sometimes weird and crazy) and his music is both unique and catchy. Not to mention that he’s an incredible performer — his shows are a blast.

On top of that, he created his own language, IS. The language is part of Stu’s art but also an illustration of his philosophy. It’s beautiful and I’ve enjoyed seeing how it has developed. Check out the video above to learn more about it.

And if that piqued your curiosity, enjoy Stu performing songs from a handful of his albums:

Earworm: Ageh Ye Rooz

This is a song that I never get tired of. Something about the melody just sticks in my head, and I find myself humming it for hours after I listen to it. It doesn’t hurt that the singers, Faramarz Aslani and Dariush, have such lovely voices. I got to see them live in concert in Los Angeles a couple years ago, and it was well worth the trip.

I’ll put this song on repeat a dozen times in a row. (Not kidding. I have to put on headphones to avoid driving everyone around me crazy.) The singing, the guitars, the drums … everything just flows. I think that’s why I can’t sit still when this song is on, either. Something about it just compels me to move. I don’t dance as well as the Persian women I know, but I sure try!

The song is titled “Ageh Ye Rooz” (اگه یه‌ روز), which means If One Day in Farsi (Persian). If you want to know more about the lyrics, check out this translation — it includes spoken recordings for each line of the song, plus vocabulary exercises. (That site has a ton of other songs and resources, too, if you’re interested in learning Farsi or just curious about Persian culture.)

Note: I’ve been listening to this song continuously since starting to write this blog post. Hitting play the first time is what inspired me to write about it, and I can’t bring myself to stop. I’ll just hit that repeat button one … more … time …