I'd planned a post full of jigs and reels this morning...but then I heard that the Dreamer program in America is indeed in danger, and now I cannot play those lively, happy tunes. As a descendant, relative, friend, and neighbor of so many, many foreign-born people in America (a nation built upon immigration since its founding); as someone who experienced homelessness in youth; and as an immigrant myself now in the UK, the sheer cruelty of even proposing to deport children has broken me.
So I'm returning to a previous post instead, examing the ways musicians tell and preserve the stories from the dark side of history.
Above: Chris Wood, Karine Polwart, and the MacColl brothers perform Ewan MacColl's "Moving On Song: Go, Move, Shift" at a tribute concert for the late songwriter. The song is about the lives of gypsy Travellers here in the UK, but it has much to say about undocumented migrants in America today as well.
Below: "Trouble in the Fields" by Nanci Griffith, about the American Dust Bowl days of the 1930s -- a time when people all across country were displaced from home due to farm failures. It's the opposite problem to Hurricane Harvey -- too little water, not too much -- but a reminder that things beyond control could render any one of us homeless.
Above, "Harvest Gypsies" (written by Boo Hewerdine), a song about migrant families looking for work and shelter wherever they could find it. This one too is about the Dust Bowl days, but relates to so many families today, coming up from Mexico in search of work. It's performed by Kris Drever from Orkney, Scotland -- a country with its own sad history of deportations and displacement.
And last: "It's a Hard Life" by Nanci Griffith, from her eighth album, Storms (1989). Griffith was raised in Texas but has Scots-Irish roots; the song draws upon both sides of her history.
The photographs are by the great documentary photographer Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), taken during the 1930s and 1940s. They are identified in the picture captions.