Promised Land CD – The Backstory

This project started out as a phone conversation that went something like,“ ten or fifteen years from now, America will be something that you won’t even recognize….”

It is now ten or fifteen years later….

It seems impossible to talk about America without going into politics. When I was much younger, people used to tell me, “That’s the sure fire way to get people mad at you!” My tendency is to not go into that unless I’m asked. Or sometimes when I write a song…

Now there’s where I know I can say what I think and let the chips fall where they may.

One thing I notice is that people across party lines and perspectives all seem to agree that everything is messed up. Don’t we have so much in common?

These days, we in New Orleans tend to divide time into “pre-K” and “post-K” (or before and after “the storm,” since for us, “K” no longer stands for kindergarten).

Six or so years later, much of New Orleans looks like it did before the storm, if a little spiffier, shinier, with stores that close sooner than they used to, and with a creative life that is still as underappreciated as ever.

And I’m being polite. I didn’t even mention how my city is now the laboratory for every social experiment that the powers that be would try on the rest of us, in every facet of our lives, from schools, to housing, to hospitals, to neighborhoods–even so far as to what was once the daily newspaper. Coming to a city near you…

Nor did I mention the poorest among us, now being swept under the rug of the new New Orleans, virtually forgotten, as the headlines move on to war and recession.

For me, the worst part after the storm was that I didn’t know when, or if, I was ever coming home. And I was one of the lucky ones: I still had a home to come back to. What this chapter, and the ones after, continues to teach me is that I have some amazing friends.

Speaking of which, this record is in roughly four chapters: America, Pre-K, Post-K, and Transformation. Most of these songs were written before the storm, although some, like “Sweet & Sunny South,” continue to rewrite themselves.

I am much more hopeful about the state of things than I may seem. But it doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that bug the hell out of me in our current place that I just don’t recognize as the same place where I started. America, I mean.

Yes, I mean the America of smart phones and 24-hour talking heads and ever faster computers and ever shorter attention spans. Still as bad at math–and as optimistic–as ever: now, that’s the America I still recognize…

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