We March

march

This month, my writers group challenged itself to create something about the word “March” — the definition, the month, an experience, the weather, anything…

WE MARCH

To be honest, I was not sure why it came to mind.

I hadn’t thought about Prince’s song, “We March” in forever. Then, suddenly, a few weeks ago, as the country’s teens started to talk about walking out of school on March 14, 2018 to protest gun violence, I couldn’t get the militaristic melody out of my head.

To be emphatically clear, I am a major Prince fan. I listen often to just about everything he recorded (and I do mean just about everything. Save a couple of extremely expensive or hard-to-come-by imports, I have every album that Prince put out.) But I had not heard this song, nor listened to its parent, “The Gold Experience” recently enough to explain it suddenly singing itself to me.

As for the song itself, it is magnificent. Shimmering. Powerful. Rocking, but jazzy, with a Prince-ly touch of funk. Beautifully produced. Like most of Prince’s published work, it is better than about 98 percent of the pre-processed, computer-concocted crap that passes for popular music today.

Yet, in the scheme of his vast canon, it is fairly obscure, dating from 1995. The early/mid 1990s is the period when “The Artist Formerly Known As” was putting out more material than either his record company or many of his fans (except me, of course) cared to consume.

Then it hit me: the lyrics!

As I started singing the song I registered the words behind the music and realized that “We March,” written 23 years ago, was speaking to me today, in 2018.

A Dylan-esque poet of funky seduction, a master of shocking/funny/naughty – even sometimes raunchy – wordplay, a paragon of the weird-bordering-on-inscrutable verse, Prince was also a keen, eagle-eyed political observer and social critic.

Going back to his first near-masterpiece, “Controversy,” which addressed the Reagan-era 1980s (nuclear war, Russia, homophobia, AIDS, gender and racial identity, burgeoning sexuality in the media, etc.) Prince often wrote and sang about what was happening in the real world.

However, his political oeuvre was often buried under the more scandalous and risqué material that shimmied from his home/studio Paisley Park — an adolescent-male fantasy land of OMG beautiful women.

Still, when the man had something to say, he said it, loud and clear – although even his most ardent fans may have had to struggle to stop dancing long enough to hear the message through the melody.

His words from 1995 expressed his frustration that the world of the 1990s wasn’t much different than the world of the 1950s.

Whites still oppressed blacks. Men still disrespected and abused women. Politicians still lied to people of all genders, races and ages.

As students and young people nationwide stood up, locked arms, raised their voices and righteously declared that they’d finally had enough of gun violence in schools; of politicians whoring themselves to fear profiteers; of living in a world destabilized more each day by piggish leaders who lie as fast as their thumbs can tweet; I realized that the world of the 2010s still wasn’t much different from the world of the 1950s.

Seventy years later, so many still suffocate under the weight of systemic discrimination. Systemic corruption. Systemic oppression. And, most of all, systemic greed.

Hearing that song play and replay in my head, I realized that it might be time once again, literally and symbolically, to march.

Many people, blinded by their own naïve optimism, irritated by the idea that there’s still more to do, unconcerned about the ripples in someone else’s pond, and selfishly protecting their ill-gotten gains, will argue this contention.

They will say:

“Things are better.”

And the young – for it is always the young who dream of changing the world — will answer, No, they’re not.

“What do they want now (insert your favorite oppressed group here: minorities/women/Muslims/immigrants/transgenders/gays…)?

Everything that the politically, socially and financially dominant group – that is, white Christian males – has always had.

“Can’t things be the way they used to be?”

No, they cannot. Ever again.

And if that means we must march, then we march.

Now’s the time, 2 find a rhyme

That’s got a reason and frees the mind

From angry thoughts, the racist kind

If we all wanna change then come on, get in line

Next time we march

We’re kickin’ down the door

Next time we march

All is what we’re marching 4

We march for gender and racial and sexual equality.

We march for safety.

We march for financial stability.

We march for political integrity.

We march for justice, truly blind.

We march for peace, truly universal.

We march for love, truly encompassing.

It is brain-numbing and heartbreaking that we even have to contemplate, in 2018 putting boots to the ground to achieve such basic human essentials as these. But if we do, then so be it.

We ain’t got no time 4 excuses, the promised land belongs 2 all

Yes, it does — regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race or any of the million other walls purposely and politically built to divide and separate and isolate us.

And so, they march.

I march.

We march.

 

 

 

 

 

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