Rosanne Cash‘s “Crawl Into the Promised Land” bottles up the emotions of 2020: Outrage, bewilderment, sadness and even hope are set to an acoustic, rootsy melody.
Co-written by John Leventhal, Cash’s frequent collaborator and husband, “Crawl Into the Promised Land” features Leventhal on all instruments and Sarah Jarosz and Jakob Leventhal, the couple’s son, on backing vocals. Cash released the track on Tuesday (Oct. 20), accompanying it with a letter that explains the emotions she channeled into the song and the mental state that led her and Leventhal to pen it.
“The pandemic and the protests were a perfect storm of isolation, inspiration, outrage, longing, fear, and hope … But, strangely, there was also a sense of transformation just around the curve, a sense of unity and community, and the potential for transcendence,” writes Cash, who lives in New York City and has been at home and off the road due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“There was nothing to do to accommodate the emotional squeeze, and the rumblings of panic, and no way to articulate the division, and the suffering born of racism and the suffering born of COVID, with reason or logic,” she adds. “The only thing to do was write songs.”
Without naming names, Cash calls out Donald Trump and other “leaders [who] consider me and many others ‘the enemy.'” She calls them “grifters with cruel intentions,” and “[p]eople who operate out of green and the most base ambitions … who value power over human lives and, shockingly, do not suffer the consequences of wielding that power.”
“The corrupt motives of those elected to serve us have opened a chasm between North and South, red and blue, American and American. The trashing of norms, the abdication of dignity, values and true leadership, torments me,” Cash continues, adding, “I need more space and time to understand what happened, what we are still going through. Why we elected such an unfit person to guide us, why we kill Black people with impunity, why our leaders dismantle and mock every institution we have painstakingly created to hold us safe, why some deaths matter and others don’t …”
Proceeds from “Crawl Into the Promised Land” are being donated to the Arkansas Peace & Justice Memorial Movement. The educational, online memorial, a collaboration with the Equal Justice Initiative and Coming to the Table, commemorates lynching victims in Arkansas, which is the home state of Cash’s father, country legend Johnny Cash, who also had a history of sticking up for the oppressed.
“We can get back to our dream of America, where the ‘enemy’ is an individual burden, inside each of us, aching for a truce,” Cash says, concluding, “We’re exhausted. We’re disoriented. But I know we have the strength and will to deliver ourselves, to crawl into the promised land.”
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