Jazz Iconoclast and guitar hero Marc Ribot’s new record (Songs of Resistance 1942 – 2018) is simultaneously one of the most culturally diverse, yet powerfully focussed, collections of music you will ever find. The cultural diversity is represented by the presence of artists such as Tom Waits, Steve Earle, Meshell Ndegeocello, Tift Merritt, Syd Straw, Ohene Corneliuo, and Domenica Fossati.
The powerful focus of this record is on the terrifying reality of current life in Donald Trump’s America. Ribot connects musically and literally with a wide variety of American resistance movements on this disc, as well as referencing the United Front Against Fascism back in WWII.
The resultant music is equally intentionally unsettling, and compellingly inspiring. Whether it is with Tom Waits reflectively singing a great grandfather-like version of the old Italian Partisan Classic “Bella Ciao”, or Steve Earle singing (one of 6 Ribot originals on the disc) about a Sikh man shot and killed in 2017 in a Kansas restaurant by a white supremacist, the music reflects the real breadth of what should be included in the genre called “Americana”. We are taken smoothly from free jazz infused spirituals, through Morricone-like folk tunes, Apallachian-like porch tunes with psychedelic slashing guitar, soulful street chants, bilingual mariachi, ukulele rooted New Orleans funk, and finally ending with an achingly sweet country lullabye about our collective determination to never abandon the project of building a better world.
Tying this all together is Marc Ribot’s humanistic belief in the value of all people, the promise of a better America, the importance of learning from history; and the power of his dexterous guitar – alternating skillfully between fierce passionate slashing and haunting delicate beauty.
Lyrics on the songs included here reference people as diverse as WB Yeats, Pete Seeger, Allen Ginsburg, John Brown, Marsha P. Johnson and Michael Brown; and issues from global warming, civil rights, LGBTQ rights and the movement to tear down statues commemorating hate and racists.
Music calling for social justice has never sounded so much like the full range of people and movements it represents and inspires – a truly united front.
Part of the proceeds of the record go to an umbrella support group called “The Indivisible Project” that helps support grassroots resistance movements against the Trump agenda in communities all across the USA.