We’re used to heartbreak around here. It’s what we do. It’s the currency of country music old and new. But this weekend’s horror in Orlando calls for a better response. Inevitably music comes in where other forms of comfort just don’t seem to work.
I would/should have been in George Square yesterday. Standing alongside gay friends and fellow citizens who have fought through and won enormous civil rights battles only to see fear return, whispering on the streets to anyone who’ll listen that, on account of their birth genes, they should be worried for their lives. It would be less than human to be an LGBT person and not be afraid.
I would have been there had someone not decided it was fair game to steal my 88 year old mother’s handbag while she helped them identify something in a supermarket. Sometimes weeping may seem like the only music we’re ever going to hear.
This morning I’m looking and listening as people in Soho in London gathered together and singing Paul Simon’s brilliant hymn of healing, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ because, maybe, it’s the only thing we can do. When Hillsborough tragedy was raw I stood on the stage of The Royal Court in Liverpool as an audience sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and 26 years later saw the same families celebrate justice by singing the song once more. When a gunman massacred people in a Charleston Church last year President Obama visited and seemed to help the healing process when he sang ‘Amazing Grace’ to and with a grieving congregation. Sometimes it’s all we’ve got.
But there’s something else here which I want to say because I have time and a blank piece of paper: We must never allow people to be afraid simply for being who they are. LGBT people have seen huge civil rights changes to the way they live because of the injustices and humiliations they had to suffer for thousands of years. Looking back in 50 and 100 years time, my descendants are going to be shocked at how badly gay people were received by those who should have known so much better. As a Christian I feel ashamed at how the Church has been complicit in that story. As much as anyone else we too need to ask for some mercy.
Tonight on Another Country we were planning to play Mary Gauthier‘s great ballad of righteous love which expresses that very sentiment, Mercy Now. We will also be playing the song which started this blog in its rawest purest, broken form.
Later we’ll welcome Anti Records’ very own Andy Shauf in session and conversation and we’ll allow music to work its magic back into our lives. Join me if you can from five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland.