the album

about

Longtime musical collaborators Heather Christian (Obie Award-winning composer) and Sasha Brown (of Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds).

All inquiries/comments/questions can be sent to sasha@libertysongs.com.

Heather on Twitter: @hcarbornauts

Heather Christian & The Arbornauts on Facebook

Sasha on Twitter: @sashabrownmusic

Long Arc is the sixth record that Heather Christian and Sasha Brown have released, all of which are available directly from them at Heather’s Bandcamp page.

The Liberty Songs Project is a collaborative founded by Sasha Brown and Heather Christian to encourage the creation of contemporary protest songs.

Future releases under the Liberty Songs umbrella will be curated compilations of contemporary protest songs written by other artists. Check back for more information about upcoming releases.

A five song EP of 21st century acoustic blues protest songs.
Written and recorded by Sasha Brown and Heather Christian on June 14-15, 2016.
Released June 22, 2016 under the Liberty Songs imprint.
100% of the proceeds will be sent directly to the Pulse shooting victims’ GoFundMe page.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”
The King of Love said that. [Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.]

We do not identify primarily as musicians who make political music.
This album happened because of love that we bear for where we are from and all the people in it in a time when shit could literally not feel darker.

We do not identify primarily as blues musicians either. Well, there you go. Part of me thinks that that’s because we hadn’t experienced a woe large enough to warrant it.

We are heartbroken and hopeful.
For our friends, for the people we didn’t know personally who gave their lives to a problem we haven’t figured out yet as a country, for our families- both inherited and chosen, and for anyone else who had the big bad sad.
We hear you, girl.
This is for you too.

We’re talkin. We encourage you to talk back.

Guitar: Sasha Brown
Voice: Heather Christian
Additional Vocals on Open Letter to Congress: Sasha Brown
Tambourine and Milk Bottle Spike: Heather Christian

Written and Recorded June 14-15, 2016
All songs ©2016 Sasha Brown and Heather Christian
Produced and Engineered by: Sasha Brown & Heather Christian
Mixed by: Matt Hubbs
Microphone Custom Built by: Dylan Carrow

Wed, June 22.

For those of you with time right now, here we go.

This week was rough. For the whole world, it looks like, but for Americans in a specific way that we have sadistically gotten kind of used to. It’s a sore we keep reopening. I will not lie to you.

Friends.

At this keyboard,

(the typey one, not the play-y one,)

(at 3 in the morning in my wreck of a studio in my old lady robe and the clothes I’ve barely slept in, next to Sasha, off one plane and onto another in 5 hours, doing his laundry while he builds a website and loads lyrics into the bandcamp)
(sober as priests. Stinking and full of noise and the desire to start something. 12 thousand cups of coffee and an unwashed head of hair.)

At this keyboard right now, I feel like I have to qualiy the tone of this love note. The jokes will not be great today, I’m afraid, but I’m gonna try and at least keep it moderately amusing so you read on to the important part: the part where we give you the record.

Short story and then a big ole sloppy joe of a heart bomb into your lap:
Here’s the deal folks, I am an organized person. As an organized person, I have arranged for Sasha, guitar slaying right hand to come over and listen to final mixes of the Summer record,3/4, with me and start overdubbing 4/4, the conclusive record to this year of cyclical serenading.

I am an organized person, guys. Sasha got here 6 hours after the news hit that Orlando had happened and that organized person tried to stay organized despite, but it was just. not. gonna. happen.

Here is ALSO the deal, folks, we chose music and we do it for a living but also music chose us and we do it when we need it. We talked. Sasha wrote some things down in a fever that first night. We needed it. Hell or high water, we had to get this shit out.

Here is ALSO ALSO the deal: I’m from Mississippi.

I know from blues music. I try to use it sparingly. Partly because I have an enormous reverence toward it, and I’m not sure I’ve experienced a grief large enough up to this day to earn its growl.

Maybe that’s true. Maybe until now. Even if that grief is an empathetic one and not one from a direct hit to my person.

Sasha and me wrote and recorded this record in two days padding the walls of woe and loving the place we call home and all the myriad of different people that inhabit it. We made it with all the feelings: scared and proud and ashamed and dumbstruck and hopeful and heartbroken and extremely freaking tired of this.
This is a thing that needed to be expelled. We are proud of it. We are not primarily musicians who make political work, and I’m not entirely sure this is entirely a political work even though the source of its growl is political in nature.

In short:
Summer is coming my loves, and so, too, fall,
but before we can get to the convertible, we gotta sober the drivers up.

And with that:
In all its gnarly heart-spent woe and wanting
In rasping and railing and in loving all of you just so
(but especially, at this moment, Y’ALL.)
(Y’ALL know who Y’ALL ARE.)

who have been made to feel anything less than the total obliterating Beauty that you are by the simple and now totally undeniable fact that we got WORK to do
RIGHT. NOW.
to Y’ALL.

The money you spend on it goes straight to the Orlando Victim’s Families Go Fund me Campaign, and once that’s done, we will sure as shooting find some other place to put it where it cushions a blow someone else felt from the giant problem we haven’t sorted yet as a country.

There will be more soon. This is ultimately one piece of a larger project that we hope will invite musicians who are not inherently political by nature to say what they feel and lend their musical two cents to the wishing well of what COULD be. One perspective is not gonna get er done.
we love you. Immensely, today.
and after that, til we croak.
xo
h + s

A note from Sasha:
Late last Monday night (June 13), I was feeling so upset about the horrible shootings in Orlando that I couldn’t fall asleep. My mom had emailed me earlier in the evening, inquiring if I’d done or said anything about HB2 while I was performing in NC a few weeks before that. And then when she asked my what I was doing about what was happening in our country, I didn’t have an answer for that either. I’d played at that club in Orlando where Christina Grimmie was shot; signed autographs right where she was standing when her life was taken from her. That story would’ve been the big news of the week had the other horrific-beyond-comprehension Orlando shooting not transpired and it hit very close to home. But for many reasons, the Pulse nightclub shooting really got to me.

My sense of helplessness and sadness made my stomach turn. I picked up a guitar at 1:30 in the morning in hopes that I could “play it out” — to calm my nerves a bit or achieve some sense of release through playing some music. Before too long, I found myself writing the music and lyrics to what would become Hands Up. When I woke up later that day I brought the song to Heather. I was staying at her place that week so that we could finish tracking guitar parts for two records of hers that we’d been working on in her home studio. But instead of spending time with the record we’d been slated to work on, Heather suggested that we try finishing up this song and recording it.

That in turn sparked a conversation about how we felt that there was a dearth of contemporary protest music, and then all the dots started to connect. We’d been planning on recording a full length blues record in the fall, but we realized that blues was the exceedingly obvious genre choice for writing protest music. [I should add that this isn’t to say that there aren’t a lot of folks writing protest music these days – there certainly are, and we’d love to connect with them – but it was more the feeling that protest music should be a lot more pervasive given the state of things in America].

Two days later, Heather and I had written and recorded five songs – a 21st century blues record of protest music. All acoustic, just her and me, recorded in her living room. Over the course of those two days, we had many conversations about the state of affairs in America, and then I’d play her snippets of song ideas I’d had, she’d go sit on the porch and write lyrics and the melodies and I’d be on the couch fleshing out the music and then we’d jump right into recording.

Each song addresses a different issue – Orlando, school shootings, Congress, lack of conversation between the folks with different viewpoints, and eulogy/grieving. It’s perhaps the most direct statement either of us have ever made as artists. And there was something powerful to us about the absolute need to make this record in that moment we did.

-Sasha

Email thread between Heather and Sasha that took place a couple days after we finished recording and had sat with the songs.

heather:

I don’t usually make public political statements and I’m feeling nervous about being naive or ill informed or wrong or offensive

Or that my gay friends with think my anger is unfounded
Or that my black friends will think my anger is unfounded

As someone politically savvy from a politically savvy family, can you just tell me that the lyrics are not embarrassing socio politically?

I need help sometimes believing and this process is going so quick so I need help reconciling it QUICKLY.
So I’m showing my hand and reaching out.
Honest two cents is appreciated

Sasha:

we’ve been talking about the issues that these songs are about together at great length the past couple months, and especially last week. the feelings that we feel are real and valid. the lyrics that you wrote flowed from you instinctively, from your gut, and from a sincere place of needing to say something, to have an outlet, to use the gift you have in an attempt to channel all these feelings about what’s going on in the world through the channel that you are used to outputing your brain and your heart. the entire purpose behind this record was to just lay the shit on the line. no pussyfooting around. to be direct, to be up front, to be REAL.

i know you’ve worked in theater productions that have done this and been about this, although perhaps sometimes in a more subtle way (though definitely not always). these songs are raw, and it feels a little dangerous because there’s this political correctness environment we live in where people are like “i don’t want to hear who Bono is backing for president, just shut the fuck up and sing.” but at the end of the day, we’re people real people first and foremost. the power behind these songs is how naked and exposed they are – and we are – there’s nothing to obfuscate the message, no curtain to hide behind. and that rawness gives them heft and a directness with the listener. it was precisely the intention – because in that way, the song – and the message – really has the center stage.

i am certain i have a good deal of people who have friended me on facebook who are on the other side of this gun control issue. and in my fake interview moment this morning, i was thinking about that, and what i would say. and i think the answer is simple, and it’s why i can stand behind these songs and what we’re trying to do here with 100% conviction. to me, it is simply not acceptable to have children gunned down in a school. it not acceptable for people to be sprayed with bullets while they are singing gospel songs during sunday church service. i do not accept that in my country, my friends could’ve been the ones gunned down at a dance club on a saturday night, regardless of who they love, but particularly because they were targeted because of who they love. i do no accept that this is just “the reality of the times we live in today”. it is not acceptable. i am mad. i am frightened. and outraged. and i do not accept that there’s nothing i – and we – can do about it.

and those feelings are the genesis of these songs. that as a human, i cannot sit on my hands any longer. and i must do something. and if my heart and my mind are desperate for change, for action, that i must align my energy and what i put out into the world with those feelings, or else i am doomed to remain unhappy and distressed.

i imagine that some people will hear them and get pissed off. i have made a lot of connections with folks from all over the country, and you certainly have many as well. there are many proud rednecks and gun-toters that i lovingly and sincerely call my friend. i am prepared that some folks might react negatively and post some nasty shit on my facebook wall. but, on the other hand… music is a powerful, powerful vehicle. it is the universal language. it has the potential to bridge that gap and be a lightning rod for a movement or a moment.

on the other hand, just on their own, the songs in and of themselves are enough for them to exist and be loved as music. not all people pick up on the messages in protest songs… it was probably less than 10 years ago that i put together the whole “freebird was a response to neil young’s alabama” thing… i’m sure there are lots of folks who haven’t yet realized how political that song is.

regardless, i know you probably feel extra exposed because you’re the voice delivering the words. know that i stand with you 1000% and i am with you hand-in-hand whether the aftermath is a bumpy fallout or smooth and well-received. it’s kinda my fault for getting you into this anyhow, right? and know that there is a large community that we are going to be welcomed into that will have our backs as well.

we both know, as many others do, that it’s not right that these killing machines are so readily accessible and prevalent in our society. frankly, anyone who advocates for keeping “things the way they are” are complicit in all of these shootings. that is exactly where the line in the sand is. however, these songs were not created to shame those people, or look down on them. i want to be able to find common ground and work together to make this country better. these songs were born out of a love for our friends, our family, our communities, and the desire to protect them and protect the innocent and the helpless. that idea is what this country was founded on. it was not founded on the right for anyone to be able to mow down a crowd of strangers, or even a single person. there has been a perversion of the constitution, brought about by advent of horrific evolution of technology and the shameful rain of money and influence on Congress. the constitutional framers can’t exactly be blamed for not predicting that these weapons would come to exist. but as a post i saw the other day said, “at the time the constitution was written, black people weren’t considered human and women weren’t allowed to vote. so you should expect that that document is going to need an update occasionally.”

it’s time for an update. and that’s what this record is about. and i am grateful that you have directed your talents towards that message.

justice is not a society in which friends hanging out get murdered on the dance floor. or in church pews. or god help us, in a classroom where they’re learning how to read.

the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice. and you are bending that arc that much closer to justice with these songs. have faith in knowing that you are on the right side of history, because you are on the side of love, not fear. and allow that to give you strength.

i am with you on this.

lyrics

Today my red white and blue wears black
When colors run like they did
No one’s coming back
Hands up
Hands up

We wake
We make our meaning
Come from mothers
Check our hearts
We love our hometowns
Feel a burn in fire
Grow apart

Brothers I didn’t know you
Brothers I didn’t know your names

Today, to one more daughter
Someone’s son
Killed in somebody else’s name

Hands up
Hands up
Hands up

How many how many years
you gonna gonna
Keep on continue to load that thing?

How many how many years
you gonna gonna
Keep on continue to load that thing?

How many how many years
you gonna gonna
Keep on continue to say that thing?

That its somebody’s fault, not ours
That its nobody’s fault that the rest of us have
lost our minds living so long inside a freefall

I want to put the top down
I want to cruise to the boardwalk
I want to dance all night with some pretty girl
and suffer in small talk
I want to watch the game
Hear Miles and Trane and
Laugh with the top down
I hope I will one day again.

I want to go to church
I want to sing in my safe place
I want to disco with my thang turndt up
I want this love
I want your love
I want to love you for nothing
I hope I’m not so scared I stop

My country tis of thee, please stop

Please Stop
(hands up)
Please Stop
(hands up)
Please Stop
(hands up)
Please Stop
(hands up)

How many how many years
we gonna gonna
Keep on continue to load this thing?

How many how many years
we gonna gonna
Keep on continue to load this thing?

How many how many years
we gonna gonna
Keep on continue to say these things?
That its nobody’s fault but ours
That its nobody’s fault that the rest of us have
lost our minds living so long inside a freefall.

Fear is inherited
Fear is a frightening disease
Fear’s a genetic mutation
Fear’s on the flip side of grief

I fear the faces I don’t see
When I’m looking outward from here
Outwards in a fifty mile radius
So it’s the outlier you fear.

“Come and put your feet on the white line
Come and put your back against the wall
Just gonna lock the door for a second
There’s nothing here to look at here at all”

How many ways we gonna teach the kids to
lock em out
lock em out
lock em out
lock em out

Creep low
We gonna show you how.

Love might be aching or scorching
Depending on whose life was spent
Was it some kid who knew he was dying
or some tortured and fractured soul bent sideways and sure of destruction
and clinging to faith that he’s right
in a place we all live in together
just trying to survive the night

“Baby what you say to a stranger?
Baby what we do to a friend?
Baby how well do you really know your neighbor?
Baby here’s a something to defend?”

How many ways we gonna teach the kids to
shut em out
shut em out
shut em out
shut em out

And so
How they gonna grow proud?
How’ll they grow feeling strong and loud?

Congress went and killed my brother
Way down, one day ago
Congress choked and held my sister
Way down, one day ago
Policeman came and stuck his pistol through my sisters driver’s side window
And if we don’t shoot em back
I guess we’ll never know if we’re gonna see tomorrow

Congress went and took my cousin
Way down, one day ago
Took my hope and left me cussin
Way down, one day ago
I’m standing here alone inside a locked apartment, can’t go out no more
And if we don’t raise some hell
I guess we’ll never feel that freedom they so hot for

Congress tied my hands together
Way down, one day ago
Congress tied my feet together
Way down, one day ago
Can’t move forward quick enough cuz congress had to barricade door
And tragedy is gunshot quick
and progress is a tortoise going slow mo

Congress says it owns my body
Oh Lord, progress is slow
Then invites me to his pity party
Oh Lord, progress is slow
If Congress was my girlfriend I’d suggest calmly “sit DOWN you ratchett ho”.
My sex and color aint some number you can crunch for gender biased pro-mos

OH
But Congress takes my cold cash money
Oh Lord what a way to go
Feeds me acid, swears its honey
Oh Lord what a way to go
And Boo, what I got left I use to comfort my poor pissed-off sickened soul
And if we don’t raise some hell I guess we’ll never feel that freedom y’all so hot for.

Why you wanna sweep me under
Why you wanna sweep me under
I’m the pirates chest you plunder
I’m the pirates chest you plunder

Why you wanna sweep me under
Why you wanna sweep me under
I’m the pirates chest you plunder
Freedom born with a heart a thunder
Why you wanna sweep me under

I got teeth but I ain’t shootin
I got teeth but I ain’t shootin
You should know whose house you lootin
Mad as hell but I ain’t shootin

Mad as hell but we ain’t shootin
Mad as hell but we ain’t shootin
Mad as hell but we ain’t shootin
Mad as hell but we ain’t shootin

So you on board with Jesus
There you go
Jesus said some smart things

Like taking care of strangers
But not for show
Appreciating small things

Jesus was a broke man
Barefoot and brown
With patience and a long ear

And called his love “The Gospel”
Spread it around
And somehow we ended up here.

So you don’t like my neighbor
Cause he’s poor
And struggling with his own thing

But Jesus was a broke man
Barefoot and brown
So would you feel the same thing
if he was around?

Open up your heart a little
We’ve got so very far to go
Could you open up your heart a little
For the sake of all you hold
I’m done fighting with you fighting with you
There’s no faith wihout the fold

Try to say their names,
the martyrs you didn’t like much.

So you onboard with action
There you go
Action is a great thing

But action to a like mind
Is just for show
And anger is the first thing

The screaming’s gonna kill you
Nice and slow
Cause half of us won’t hear you

We decided you’re a stranger,
there you go
We will not hear your second thing.

If you on board with change, son
There you go
Think about your flavor

Hope can’t die like they did
In one go
while you was chewing out your neighbor

Open up your heart a little
We built a country on a dream
Ain’t that worth opening your mouth a little
And asking questions ‘stead of screaming
And if we fight a little, fight a little
That’s just what Democracy means

Try to say their names
the believers you didn’t like much.

We can ride the river down
Follow this thought to its conclusion
Live our whole lives in seclusion
Never risk the road again

We can ride the river down
Let the sadness be an anchor
Let the anchor sink us further
From the possibility of mending

Or we can make a raft in rags
Soaked through with tears shed over all our brothers
And we won’t just float
We’ll dance
once more
Only fiercer now because

or

We can ride the river down
Let it harden all our soft places
Let the grief get in and set paces
For a standoff everyday

We could look the other way
Say it’s someone else’s business
Someone else’s grief to bear
But then you’d stay right there.

Or we can make house in time
where all of us can try to find some true ground
Admit we’ve hurt each other unbound
Then attempt to start again