Wildfire (The Ashes on Record)
There's a trick to being a band who writes timely, socially aware music; we're just not exactly sure how the trick works. You keep yourself open to the world. You react. You jerk your knee back and you respond to the news- sometimes appropriately, sometimes in ways you don't intend, sometimes in ways your don't realize- and in that way writing timely, socially aware music is a lot like engaging in an argument online. In our experience with the latter, you don't plan it or even know if it's going to do any good. You don't know who's going to read it but you do know you're pissed and that it's better for you to get involved in this argument than to let it exist somewhere without resistance. And so you respond. You try. You engage.
You've read the story of this song before: following the 2016 election results, tiny folk band goes into the woods and when they emerge the Southeast is on fire. They write a song about how arson has changed the landscape of the places they have loved and lived. They call it "Wildfire." They make a music video and release it the week of the inauguration. In 2018, they release a new record with said song as the first track. It still smells like smoke.
We've been asked a lot recently if we've been surprised by the kind of people we meet in the small towns we play in the middle parts of America and we can't help but realize that we didn't get asked these questions before the election or before we wrote this song. It's as if the question is "Do you meet a lot of Trump supporters in your travels?" We respond by saying that the great thing about being a folk singer is that people can guess pretty accurately where you stand on social issues. We don't find ourselves in many arguments, though. We don't find that people get up and leave when we start singing this song. We're sure we know a lot of Trump supporters- maybe you're even one of them- but I don't think we've argued with you. Maybe that's politeness, maybe that's fear, or maybe that's a testament to how divided we actually are- that we don't engage with the songs in front of us. Or maybe the songs never make it to people's ears because we can live highly specific, curated lives, where our preferences are only reinforced and not confronted.
Or maybe, in it's best case scenario, music is giving us a second chance to listen. To listen harder.
But the wildfire is still burning. The ashes were recorded and we know what we've all lost. Maybe that's the trick to writing timely, socially aware music; it's about listening as much as it is about singing. It's about our past as much as it is our future as much as it is happening right now.
Once again, we made a playlist of some songs we feel tie in with Wildfire in some way. Give it a listen.