Sustainable Song: New Cannonball Blues

Sustainable Song: New Cannonball Blues - TV on the Radio

I thought I'd try to shine a light on a less ‘classic' sustainable song, because themes of climate change, sustainability and environmental protection have permeated through our culture and are being expressed in a myriad of ways by different artists in sometimes unexpected places.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dv0G5ibi3VY

TV on the Radio have been blazing their own sonic trail for about 10 years now, pointing noisy fingers at where they see hypocrisy and damaged systems (‘victims' include the US administration, the military-industrial-science complex and blind consumer culture), and projecting a world in which love (of the raw, visceral kind) will triumph over all else if we overcome ourselves and our boundaries to stand together in the face of what is broken in order to build up something better.

But TV on the Radio aren't chiefly known for their political expressions: their reputation rests on their uncompromising creative vision and the quality of their music. As with a lot of great art, it's left up to the listener to fill in the gaps between the lines, which flit across alienation, war, desire, politics, nature, the human condition. However I am still confident that I am not twisting their words to match what I want them to say because they've said it all themselves:

Pitchfork: You've called the album "apocalyptic"-- so what's the net result? Does this stave off the apocalypse? Do we get together and figure out how to deal with the apocalypse?

David Sitek: Well, I think that that's an important part of it. I'm trying not to make an official statement about it, but we need to recognise that despite what we think-- because [you think] you're special, you're an individual, whatever-- we need to view it as a species. We're now at the point where we really need to evaluate the survival of the species, and that will only happen if we work together. There are so many people in the world with so many different perspectives. But ultimately at the heart of it, they're people. And [we're saying], can we please recognise that [our] differences aren't going to help at all. If we can move together as a species, I think that there is a possibility that we can make the world a better place. The goal of our band isn't to make the world a better place. It's just to be like, "Hey, we're all in this together. The golf course doesn't have a force field over it. Poison air will get to you, too." ( From an interview on ‘Return to Cookie Mountain', 2006 )

Or, in short: "We write five-minute-long songs about global warming". ( Billboard, 2008 )

And if you think that all sounds a little bit serious - there's a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humour among their warfarin' terrapins and gold cross jock skull and bones.

Narrowing my choice down to one song wasn't easy. I've settled on New Cannonball Blues: a call to action to drag us out of our apathy and break our autopilot and/or paralysis, and a passionate reminder that our future and our culture isn't set in stone. The most powerful tools we have for building a better world are our art, our voices, and each other - so that next time you get a chance to right a wrong, we'll remember to put away our excuses.

Here are the lyrics:

New Cannonball Blues - TV on the Radio

Hey girls, hey boys no don't mind the noise

It's just the sound of being dragged ahead

It's just a pornographic annulationship

As we watch the spider's web eat itself

All this death above extinguishing

All that you've ever known

Turn your touch screens off and start harvesting

The seeds that your parents sowed

It's got me singing blues that hit you like a cannonball

Loud enough to break your bones

But it was written in blood before they wrote it in stone

So, sing it with me like it's your own

It's got me f***ed up and dried up and fed up can't get up

And bleeding and crying like I'm mad at the soul

"I'm a carbon copy

Now they got me"

Up oh look at where we're going

It's got you strung out and bothered and caught up

And drowning and feeling and shot up

And feeling you gotta run

You're a carbon copy

Now they got me

Up oh look at where we're going

You're gettin' bothered staying low like under four hundred blows

Makes you feel like you're all by yourself

So when the chance comes along like where you could help right a wrong

The bulls***t's got you stuck up on the shelf

"But it's heavy"

"I'm not ready"

Do you feel like you're swimming in the notes?

But baby, follow the sound

That's shooting out of your crown

There's only one way up from the floor

It's got me f***ed up and dried up and fed up can't get up

And bleeding and crying like I'm mad at the soul

"I'm a carbon copy

Now they got me"

Up oh look at where we're going

It's got you strung out and bothered and caught up

And drowning and feeling and shot up

And feeling you gotta run

You're a carbon copy

Sustaining Creativity