Normally I post a Clash song on Fridays. It’s my way of raising my middle finger to the workweek, I guess. Thirty-odd years after I heard that first LP and thought what fresh hell is this, I still love the hell out of that band. There’s almost never a time when I don’t feel like dropping the needle and turning the dial all the way up.
I had a Clash song queued up for today. It was topical. Maybe I’ll post a special Saturday edition of Your Friday Clash Song so we can get back on track; but today … today, I’ve got nothin’.
So, about this song: Steve Earle’s “Nothing But A Child,” from the Copperhead Road LP (1988). I’m not a religious person. I haven’t been for a long time. But I first heard this song in late November or early December 2001, a few months after 9/11 and just a few weeks after the birth of our daughter, Claire, and, you know, the song just hit me a certain way. If there’s anything I ever got out of Catholicism, the religion of my tribe, it’s that even when the worst imaginable things happen, there are possibilities for redemption and renewal. And that isn’t necessarily a religious thing; you don’t have to be a religious person to believe that there are reasons for hope amid despair.
My daughter would have been the light of my life no matter what was going on in the world at the time – all my kids are the light of my life – but coming along in the dark months after 9/11, her birth really was the kind of renewing event this song talks about. Again, not religiously, but, to me, in a personal sense. It gave me hope. She gave me hope.
But what do you say when these wellsprings of hope are gunned down in cold-blood. A dozen and a half of them. What renews you then. How will their parents ever get past what happened today.
Yeah, no question marks. It’s not some quirky writing style. It’s because questions presuppose there are answers. And today, I got nothin’.